We have all heard talk about the digitalisation of manufacturing and it should be clear to everyone by now that it is more than just a passing fad – it is undoubtedly the future of production in a significant and meaningful way.
Manufacturing optimisation, higher levels of customisation, additional, complementary services and flexibility are every bit as important as developing new products and entering new markets.
And yet, nearly two-thirds of SME manufacturers state that implementing digital – or Fourth Industrial Revolution-related – technology isn’t a priority for their business.
Why should this be? A recent study conducted by The Manufacturer Oracle | Netsuite explored executives’ concerns regarding the implementation of factory connectivity.
The two leading worries – by some margin – are a lack of expertise and poor data collection, management and analysis skills.
This combination of neither fully understanding the connectivity requirements of smart manufacturing (54% of respondents) nor being in a position to collect high-quality data, manage it and analyse it (47%) means that many organisations have real trouble benefiting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution and in all likelihood, are failing to invest in it.
There are other concerns about connectivity. Roughly a quarter of SME manufacturers believe that initial development costs are too high and the payback period is too long to make significant connectivity worthwhile.
Again, sector research and experience demonstrates that for most companies that take the time to properly examine the business case for implementing connectivity, it is likely that despite the real costs of implementation the benefits would be worth the investment.
Similar conclusions can be drawn from the use of robots. On the one-hand, two-thirds of companies have invested in robotics or automation in the past five years. On the other, one-third of SMEs have not spent a penny on these items, despite it being an area of fast-paced improvement.
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