The last few years have been exceptionally disruptive times for Indiana’s manufacturing industry, but that hasn’t stopped Hoosier companies from implementing lots of seriously cool technology. In the first measurable trendline of its kind, new data has been published from a survey of nearly 200 companies that illustrates the rapid rise of futuristic gadgets among our state’s makers. This shows us that, despite all the global challenges, the local manufacturers haven't stopped advancing in innovative and exciting ways.
The “Glimpse into Indiana’s Factory of the Future” study, developed by the IUPUI Kelly School of Business and Conexus Indiana, provides a look into the kinds of equipment investments that companies have been making and where they’re planning to invest in the near future.
The Big Four
With each bit of Industry 4.0* technology that companies choose, it’s apparent they’re looking for better ways to become more efficient and work smarter. The top four technologies that companies have been adopting, or plan to adopt in the next five years, are cobots, cybersecurity, sensor technology, and Internet of Things (IoT). Interestingly, the pace at which companies are making use of these advancements is accelerating.
According to the study, the percentage of manufacturers reporting plans to use cobots and cybersecurity in the next five years has doubled from 2020 to 2022, followed closely by a 25% increase in those planning to incorporate sensor technology into their equipment and a 68% increase in those planning to deploy IoT.
What are the goals with these technologies? Hoosier manufacturers want the flexibility of additional helping hands from cobots. They want stronger cybersecurity protections to keep them safe from digital treats and data breaches. And they also want to make use of sensors and interconnected IoT devices to shore up inefficiencies, reduce costs, and boost performance by gaining more insight into their equipment maintenance.
Top Tech that Hoosier Manufacturers Expect to Use in the Next Five Years
- Sensor Technology
- Internet of Things
- Machine Vision
- Big Data and Analytics
- 3D Printing
- Machine Learning
- Cloud Computing
- Advanced Modeling
- Artificial Intelligence
- Autonomous Mobile Robots
- Wearable Technologies
- Augmented Reality
- Autonomous Vehicles
Source: Glimpse into Indiana’s Factory of the Future study, Dec. 2022
As every business leader knows, our current economic climate is one of uncertainty. There are widespread concerns about things like labor shortfalls, inflation, and supply chain disruptions – all of which are pronounced vulnerabilities for an industry like manufacturing. But that hasn’t slowed down plans throughout the sector.
- 58% of companies have now successfully implemented or piloted an Industry 4.0 technology, which is an 176% increase from 2020.
- Only 4% of companies reported no foreseeable adoption of these technologies, an 87% decrease from 2020.
- One in 3 companies now perceive Industry 4.0 as a positive investment for growth.
- Cobots, cybersecurity, sensor technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to be deployed by nearly half of manufacturing and logistics companies in the next five years.
As for the factors that are holding back even more Hoosier companies from jumping on the Industry 4.0 bandwagon, budget restrictions and compatibility with existing legacy systems were understandably the two biggest hurdles to overcome.
Nearly 3 in 4 (71%) companies said that budget restrictions were a top obstacle hindering their use of new tech. But despite the money issue, they still recognized the benefits of Industry 4.0 and are moving forward with a wide array of technology projects.
Other companies are working to formulate strategies for how their firms will deploy advanced tech moving forward. A little over a quarter of the respondents (26%) already have these types of strategic roadmaps.
What About Jobs?
There’s always a prevailing fear that modernization will negatively impact the workforce. But one of the best things about all the recent technology trend is that most companies are not eliminating jobs. In many cases, the technology has actually been making jobs a little better for workers. Most companies say that repetitive or monotonous tasks have been the main things that have been eliminated.
- 61% of respondents said the adoption of new technologies will minimize repetitive human tasks.
- 52% said technology adoption will upskill the workforce.
- And only 12% said technology adoption would reduce payroll and eliminate positions.
Much More to Come
It’s impressive to observe that even in the face of massive global economic challenges, Indiana manufacturers are still pioneering ways to make their production methods more effective. This certainly has not been a period of holding back, to say the least. It’s an industry-wide upgrade happening in real time, and one that’s expected to bring prosperous results for Indiana as more companies turn to Industry 4.0’s innovations.
* Industry 4.0 refers to the rise in smarter factories and a greater incorporation of digital and analytical technologies into systems and processes.