Companies are making progress in implementing new technologies, but scaling and linking investment to value remains a work in progress.
4IR has been met with both enthusiasm and fence-sitting. While sentiments and experiences have been mixed, most business leaders are now approaching 4IR with a sense of measured optimism. While they recognize the potential value and business boost advanced manufacturing technologies can present—particularly robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, advanced analytics, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality—they are still deliberating how and where to invest and balancing the hype with their own level of preparedness. Meanwhile, they’re also well aware of the significant changes 4IR will bring to a new manufacturing workforce—that is, one increasingly becoming a hybrid of human and machine.
About the 4IR survey
PwC and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and thought leadership arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, surveyed about 100 US-based manufacturers. We see a definitive—and, indeed, inevitable—shift to 4IR as companies seek to integrate new technologies into their operations, supply chain, and product portfolio. At the same time, they acknowledge that scaling, justifying 4IR investments, and dealing with uncertainty surrounding use cases and applications present a new set of challenges.
Key 4IR survey findings
- While the sector as a whole is making assertive forays into 4IR, many manufacturers still inhabit the awareness and pilot phase. Nearly half of manufacturers surveyed reported that they are in the early stages of a smart factory transition (awareness, experimental, and early adoption phases). The majority of those that have implemented smart factory use cases consider a quarter of those a success.
- Manufacturers do expect the transition to accelerate in the coming years— 73% are planning to increase their investment in smart factory technology over the next year.
- While we see a number of fence-sitters, the bulk of manufacturers are indeed prioritizing 4IR, the digital ecosystem, and emerging technologies. 31% report that adopting an IoT strategy in their operations is “extremely critical” while 40% report that it’s “moderately critical.”
- About 70% of manufacturers say the biggest impacts of robotics on the workforce in the next five years will be an increased need for talent to manage the robotics workplace and the opening of new jobs to engineer robotics and their operating systems.
To download a copy fo the report, click here.