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Key Industry 4.0 trends as the world emerges from COVID-19

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Even before COVID-19, Industry 4.0 technologies were beginning to have a major impact on the transformation of manufacturers worldwide. Now, solutions such as IoT, AI, analytics and automation have taken on a whole new degree of significance. The pandemic has hugely accelerated the drive of organizations to digitally transform. The development of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing will be the focus of the manufacturing sessions at this year’s OpenText™ World.

The growth of Industry 4.0

Initial momentum behind Industry 4.0 was slow but recent years have seen many manufacturers begin to adopt digital technologies, with Qurate Research estimating the market would grow from $68 billion in 2018 to over $205 billion in 2025.

Advances such as the integration of Information Technology (IT) and Operations technology (OT) were bringing together data that can drive efficiency and innovation. New technologies were beginning to deliver the benefits of highly automated, digital workflows.

That was before COVID-19. The pandemic has altered the operating environment for virtually every manufacturer. McKinsey suggests that adoption of Industry 4.0 will be key to success as we emerge from the pandemic, saying: “Industry 4.0 technologies were already transforming manufacturers’ operations before the pandemic. Now adoption is diverging between technology haves and have-nots”.

COVID-19 has moved the needle

According to McKinsey, the more digitally enabled the manufacturer, the better it was placed to respond to the crisis. Taking supply chain resilience as an example, the firm found that 39% of industry leaders had implemented Industry 4.0 solutions to create a control tower to deliver supply chain visibility and flexibility.

But business resilience is only one example of where Industry 4.0 has played a significant role. The speed with which manufacturers have been able to institute remote working has been breath-taking in some instances. We’re witnessing ever greater amounts of automation throughout operations and the supply chain. And, examples of business agility abound. An industry derided in the past for having the turning circle of a supertanker was suddenly able to pivot on a pinhead!

The acceleration of digital transformation

COVID-19 has not set us on a new path, it has just accelerated our progress. A couple of years back, Deloitte research showed that only 20.7% of manufacturing organizations surveyed rated themselves as ‘highly prepared’ to address the emerging business models of Industry 4.0.

However, a recent study from the Manufacturing Leadership Council found that 45% of those surveyed said digitization had been essential for them to respond to the pandemic, with a further 53% expecting Industry 4.0 adoption to accelerate due to their experiences.

Still questions to answer

However, there is still a long journey ahead for manufacturers adopting Industry 4.0 solutions. The current pandemic has perhaps raised as many questions as answers, such as:

  • Are we moving towards lights-out factories and production facilities?
  • How do you build resilience into operations and the supply chain?
  • Are fully autonomous supply chains just around the corner?
  • Are you prepared for fully remote or hybrid work practices?
  • Can virtual and augmented reality empower remote working and remote maintenance?
  • How do you maintain innovation faced with shrinking budgets?
  • How do you deliver outstanding digital customer experience and exploit online channels?
  • How do you gain the full value of your data to improve planning, sales, inventory management and customer experience?
  • How do you build performance and sustainability into your growing ecosystem of partners, suppliers and customers?

How to move forward? Start by attending OpenText World

These are exactly the type of questions we’ll be addressing during the manufacturing sessions at this year’s online OpenText World. The sessions include:

  • Manufacturing Industry Forum: Industry 4.0 remains the business imperative: In a June survey by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, 53% of respondents said they expect to accelerate their digital initiatives, 73% anticipate more remote working strategies will be adopted, and 42% expect increased shop floor automation. This session explores the survey findings as well as membership experiences. (Monday, 26 October, 10:00am – 10:40am. Register here).
  • Mitigating risks caused by disruption in manufacturing operations: In these unprecedented times of industry disruption, manufacturers have shown great resilience. In this session we will look at the challenges manufacturers have faced, the lessons learned and how these insights can help accelerate digital transformation to increase robustness and future preparedness. (Available on demand here).

Join us at this year’s OpenText World conference (26-29 October). Register your place today.

Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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