Manufacturers to increase use of wearable tech: study

Posted on 18 Sep 2017 by Michael Cruickshank

A new study has shown that more than a half of all manufacturing settings would be using wearable digital technology in just five years.

Wearable technologies is expected to be increasingly used by manufacturers. Image courtesy of Zebra Technologies.
Wearable technologies is expected to be increasingly used by manufacturers – image courtesy of Zebra Technologies.

The wearable tech study, commissioned by Zebra Technologies, was based on online reports from 1,100 North American, Latin American, European and Asia Pacific ‘decision makers’ in the manufacturing industry.

The primary finding of the study was that one-half of those surveyed planned to deploy wearable tech with their employees by 2022.

Furthermore, 55% of those already using this technology said that they planned to increase the number of these wearable devices over the same time period.

The survey also showed that the continuing trend towards manufacturers integrating the so-called ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ (IIoT) into smart factories was accelerating.

This combines the use of wearable and internet-connected monitoring systems to enable factories to have a real-time overview of their production.

The Zebra study found that by 2022, 64% of the manufacturers it contacted expect to be ‘fully connected’ compared to just 43% today.

Zebra itself markets a range of IIoT solutions for businesses, meaning it is well-placed to take advantage of this shift towards Industry 4.0.

“Manufacturers are entering a new era in which producing high-quality products is paramount to retaining and acquiring customers as well as capturing significant cost savings that impact the bottom line,” said Jeff Schmitz, senior vice president at Zebra.

Automation on the rise

One of the primary results of this shift towards connected factories is that humans are being increasingly taken out of the loop, with long hours of manual inventory management no longer necessary.

The study found that 62% of the respondents currently use pen and paper to track vital manufacturing steps, something which is expected to drop to one in five by 2022.

Large companies worth more than $1bn plan to invest significantly in voice technology to help achieve this, with use growing to 55% in the next five years.

Inevitably, this increase in automation will reduce the need for human workers, saving manufacturers money in a competitive industry, but also leading to significant manufacturing-sector job losses.

Interested more in the future of manufacturing and the rise of smart factories? Register today for the The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo 2017!