Top 3 Takeaways From PLANT's 2020 Advanced Manufacturing Report

PLANT Magazine recently released its 2020 Advanced Manufacturing Report. While the report included many insightful statistics into the importance of investing in advanced manufacturing technologies, the top three takeaways below will help shape your 2020 manufacturing investments.

1. Investing in the IIoT Is an Important Business Growth Opportunity

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) involves interconnected sensors, instruments and other devices to enable data collection, exchange and analysis to improve productivity and efficiency within businesses. Investing in machines, sensors, analytics and more IIoT technologies can help drive profit by minimizing expenses and maximizing resources. 

PLANT's findings showed that 79% of respondents see the IIoT as promoting business growth, and 64% believed smaller operations had more to gain from the IIoT than larger ones. 

The desire to stay competitive compelled many manufacturing decision-makers to embrace the possibilities offered by the IIoT. The report showed that 65% cited falling behind the competition as the biggest threat resulting from not making the investment. 

Table 1: Executives greatest perceived threats resulting from not investing in Industry 4.0 technologies, with "falling behind the competition" as the number one response.

However, helping businesses grow with IIoT technology involves understanding what the advancements can do for you. 

If you don’t understand technology, you’re not going to see the value, and if you don’t see the value, you’re not going to invest.

— David Linton, National Manufacturing and Distribution Leader, BDO Canada

The PLANT Report cited an auto parts company’s desire to waste less energy by determining the optimal time to turn on and run ovens. Through sensors, data collection and analysis, the auto parts company realized they could turn on the oven hours later than they previously had been, allowing them to cut energy costs. By investing in various IIoT technologies, this auto parts manufacturer was able to cut costs and save time, enabling business growth.  

2. Invest in Automation Now to Achieve a Competitive Advantage 

According to the PLANT report, 54% of companies already have an automation system implemented in their facility. Additionally, over half of the manufacturers surveyed are planning to invest in Industry 4.0 technologies, like automation, over the next three to five years, with 48% focusing on robotics and automation. 

Investing in automation and robotics will help companies increase throughput, reduce downtime, improve product quality and shorten time to market. As the chart below indicates, many respondents to the PLANT report have already experienced those advantages.

Table 2: The greatest reported benefits experienced from investing in advanced manufacturing technologies, with "increased throughput" as the greatest benefit.

The report recommends investing in automation now to get ahead of your competition. An Industry 4.0 investment could also ensure your company is prepared for the future of manufacturing by enhancing its processes and enabling its lasting success. 

You can learn more about automation technologies available for materials handling here.

3. Planning Increases the Potential of Advanced Manufacturing Efforts

If you intend to move ahead with advanced manufacturing investments, PLANT states that advanced preparation is essential for success. Boucher, a partner at BDO Canada LLP, says many of his clients overlook the necessary planning process. He explained, “People tend to buy technology for the sake of buying technology, versus having a step-by-step methodical plan and building on the investment to reach the next level.” He suggested starting with a solid plan for investment and expanding it as needed later. Many experts will be able to assist you in understanding your technology needs. Contact OTTO Motors today to discuss how automation can increase your facility's efficiency. 

A small company size is not necessarily a barrier to investing in advanced manufacturing. The PLANT report showed that 52% of its respondents were from companies with less than 50 employees and those companies still planned to invest in advanced manufacturing technologies.

What smaller companies struggle with is they see it as too big to do. You [just] need to have a vision, and you have to have a roadmap.

— Braam Meij, Vice President of Industrial Sales, Siemens Canada Ltd

Meij recommended starting with a few small pilots and determining the value of those modest investments. Then, build from there. 

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