Transforma Insights recently published a report ‘Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Sector’, providing our view of the key areas of change within the manufacturing sector that are enabled by emerging digitally transformative technologies. This blog post examines some of the key themes.
The Manufacturing sector is among the most progressive sectors in terms of adoption of digital transformation (DX) solutions. There are seven key domains in which new technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation are being used to enact digital transformation within the manufacturing industry, unlocking operational efficiencies through automation, transparency and safety. These are:
The analysis contained in the report draws heavily on Transforma Insights’ Best Practice & Vendor Selection Database, which includes hundreds of case studies that collectively illustrate how new emerging technologies can impact enterprises in all sectors. At the time of writing the database included 826 case studies in total, 300 of which are in the Manufacturing sector.
When assessing the various case studies, we consider three ways in which they might have an impact: Process Efficiency (i.e. internal factors related to making operations more effective), Value Proposition (i.e. changes to the product that the company takes to market), and Industry Disruption (i.e. does this type of use case have the potential to be a game-changer for the sector) potential.
Until now, the emphasis of DX deployments in the manufacturing sector has been on Process Efficiency. The impact on Value Proposition and Industry Disruption has been moderate, although in the latter case there is a secondary effect of increased process efficiency driving wider industry changes, as noted in the graphic below.
The impact of specific DX projects in the manufacturing industry can be significant. For instance, Cobots are still in the early stages of adoption, but the productivity advantage is significant. Harley Davidson’s facility in York, Pennsylvania, uses robots to weld parts together. These robots churn out 20% more fenders per shift than two employees working in the same facility. Airbus has reported a 500% improvement in productivity yearly by using wearables (such as smart glasses) on its factory floor. A Ford assembly plant in Michigan has started using wearables like exoskeletons (Ekso Bionics’ EksoVest suit) and realised an 83% decline in worker injuries.
One of the most significant technology adoption trends in the last two years has been the growing interest in the use of mobile private networks (MPNs) and nowhere is there more interest than in the manufacturing sector. According to Transforma Insights’ report ‘Mobile private network (MPN) state of the union’ (October, 2022), manufacturing is the number one sector for deployments. Examples of digital transformation initiatives that use private 4G and 5G networks, as presented in the Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Sector report include Ocado’s Smart Platform for warehouse automation, Nokia’s private 5G network for its own manufacturing plant in Oulu, and Ice Mobility’s use of Verizon’s 5G Edge network for consumer vision-assisted product inspection.
About the report
‘Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Sector’ is intended to provide an outsider’s view of some of the key areas of change within the manufacturing sector that are enabled by emerging digitally transformative technologies. From a practitioner’s perspective, the document highlights new and emerging aspects of change that can be expected to impact the industry in the next few years. From the perspective of potential vendors to the manufacturing industry, it highlights key emerging areas of opportunity to sell new products, services, and solutions to the manufacturing industry. The report is available to subscribers to the Transforma Insights Advisory Service.