4 smart factory trends 2020

Smart Factory Trends 2020

by Tanja Rauniaho-Mitchell

The smart factory trends 2020 are similar to what we’ve seen increasing over the last few years. The difference isn’t so much in the technology, it’s in the number of companies beginning to use it.

Technologists have been talking about the huge IoT benefit for manufacturing, literally, for years. However, the manufacturers have been slow in adapting new technologies. But, the few leaders that are advanced at using these new technologies are reaping the benefits of digital transformation. They have also laid the groundwork for the rest to follow.

Until now, the mainstream approach has been more “wait and see” than “full steam ahead”. But, the sparks have caught and 2020 is likely to be the year of widespread digital adoption.

“With technology changing rapidly, manufacturers must future-proof their Industry 4.0 transformation plans or risk falling behind their competitors,” states McKinsey’s 2019 report on “Future-Proofing a Digital Manufacturing Transformation.”

But, one thing is clear. It’s that manufacturers will be facing increasing pressures in cost, efficiency and quality in the coming years. And they’re finding that new tech adoption—be it IoT, 5G, AI—is the only way to carry on. In fact, within the next five years, PwC expects that 85% of industrial companies will implement Industry 4.0 technologies in all important business divisions.

Here are 4 smart factory trends to look out for in 2020.

IIoT analytics – a winning combination

The Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) goes beyond proof of concept and into wider adoption and deployment across industries. A survey by IIoT giant Microsoft found that 94% of companies said they will implement IIoT strategies by 2021.

In fact, IDC predicts that spending on IoT technology will reach a trillion US dollars by 2022. The largest sectors investing in the emerging technology include discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, transportation and utilities.

Manufacturers that aren’t investing heaving in analytics by 2020 will have a hard time to keep up with the competition going forward. Flying blind and following your gut are no longer viable options. Especially, when every other business is leveraging sophisticated analytics tools to identify problems, opportunities and solutions.

Machine Learning and AI

Applications of AI and machine learning are becoming even more important tools for data analytics. These two technologies are responsible for taking manufacturing to the next level. They provide three central values, which in the opinion of experts are speed, scale, and convenience.

Speed and scale speak to the advantage of automating the analysis of massive data sets as opposed to assigning human data analysts to the task. Thanks to AI and machine learning, it is now possible to analyze complex data sets in a fraction of the time it used to take just a couple of years ago.

This is not only because computers have become faster or better. It’s because AI and machine learning algorithms have gotten extremely good at data analysis. And, because is is easy to scale that analysis in the cloud.

On the convenience side, the addition of AI and machine learning to analytics tools has made them intuitive, easy to use, and much more reliable. And, as good as they are already in 2019, their speed and accuracy will likely improve considerably in 2020.

The rise of edge and hybrid computing

Cloud computing was a preferred choice for data storage and processing till the edge and hybrid models came into picture.

Edge Computing fits in any use-case that demands faster and secure response in near real-time. This means, applications that cannot wait for the data to be sent to the cloud servers, processed and then receive instructions for the next actions. Instead, data is processed and analyzed as close to the connected devices as possible without having to send it to the cloud. This method can be valuable in many use cases where latency is an issue.

The estimation is that by 2020, 45% of all data created by IoT devices will be stored, processed, analyzed and acted upon close to or at the edge side.

Edge computing scores over the cloud computing in terms of response-time and reliability even in poor network conditions. However, the fact is that several industry use-cases need a centralized hub like cloud to store huge chunks of data.

And this business requirement has created scope for the deployment of a hybrid computing model. This is the combination of the capabilities of cloud and edge computing: “Processing At The Edge, Storing & Analyzing At The Cloud”.

The hybrid cloud model enables companies to leverage the best of public and private cloud by integrating them. They can lock down sensitive data on private cloud servers and use public cloud service providers for running applications and analytics.

A look at various market reports shows that a majority of the industrial and manufacturing companies prefer the hybrid computing model when planning to invest in smart manufacturing development.

5G and smart factories

2020 is the year we are likely to see the much talked about 5G rollout on a much larger scale. And, it is likely to have a big impact on smart manufacturing. 5G will allow manufacturers to improve latency and enable real-time communication on a scale not seen before.

With 5G, manufacturers can start to enhance their use of sensor, cloud, quality inspection, centralized tracking, etc. However, not every manufacturer will be able to take advantage of the benefits of 5G (depends on the area). But, those who are will have a great opportunity to improve their processes and continue to become more efficient.

Keep up with trends for the manufacturing industry

As digital manufacturing continues to evolve in the coming years, manufacturers need to keep up with the changes. For some, this can be challenging; however, it is paramount for survival in the ever-growing global competitive market.

Now that you know the smart factory trends for 2020, you can always acquire the advanced industrial equipment and systems currently in the market. What are you waiting for to benefit from the latest technology to meet the challenges of the future for your manufacturing business?