Manufacturing AUTOMATION

From the editor: Technology investment is key for business innovation

May 3, 2018
By Alyssa Dalton

May 3, 2018 – In a quest to measure business and government readiness for Industry 4.0, the Deloitte Global survey polled roughly 1,600 C-level executives across 19 countries in the second half of last year. One of its most notable findings is the strong correlation between how executives approach technology and how well prepared they believe they are for Industry 4.0, and as such, the business case they make for new technologies.

Respondents who view implementing new technologies as the key competitive differentiator feel they are more prepared across a range of areas than those who say technology is simply one of many priorities, according to the findings.

“The concept of digitizing everything is becoming a reality. Automation, artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning and other advanced technologies can quickly capture and analyze a wealth of data that gives us previously unimaginable amounts and types of information to work from,” wrote Brian Householder, president and chief operating officer of Hitachi Vantara, in a report that analyzes the survey results. “Our challenge becomes moving to the next phase – changing how we think, train and work using data – to create value from the findings obtained through advanced technologies.”

Deloitte found that “close to a third of respondents from the Americas consider technology a key competitive differentiator, compared with 12 per cent in APAC and 18 per cent in EMEA. This focus on technology breeds a degree of confidence: More respondents from North America believe that they have a strong business case for their technology solutions (14 per cent), with APAC respondents being the most doubtful (5 per cent), and Latin America and EMEA coming in at 9 per cent.”

Disruptive technologies will enable organizations to develop and support new business models, advanced product innovation and holistic customer servitization.

“In this way, Industry 4.0 also enables organizations to take advantage of network-based, data-driven, autonomous and cognitive digital and physical technologies to create truly innovative business solutions — rather than simply using technology to pursue the same old ways of doing business,” noted the authors of the Deloitte survey report.

As I write this editorial, I’m halfway through my week at Hannover Messe in Germany. This year more than 5,000 exhibitors from 75 different nations are presenting the technologies of tomorrow’s factories, discussing the impact of connectivity, artificial intelligence, the Digital Twin, robotics and self-learning machines on the industrial automation world. After chatting with a number of automation experts at the action-packed trade fair, one thing is certain: Today’s manufacturers must embrace these transformative technologies to ensure they remain cost-effective, agile and competitive on the global stage.

This editorial was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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