What’s Driving Adoption of Manufacturing Technology in 2021?
Industry 4.0 isn’t a new concept — we’ve been talking about it for the better part of two decades. Now, the 2020s are set to be the decade when this new era of technology finally cements itself — as early as 2021, according to new reports. With everything that’s happened in 2020 (good and bad), manufacturers are gearing up to make significant investments in technology in the coming year. Why now? Because the benefits of modern technology are exactly what manufacturers need headed into a crucial decade.
A 2021 spike in technology investments
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen at any time. The coronavirus pandemic may be a Black Swan event, but it’s nonetheless illuminating for how vulnerable many businesses are, including manufacturing. As an essential industry, manufacturing is especially vulnerable, and many producers have found themselves in a squeeze due to the virus.
Looking forward, many of these same manufacturers will be the ones investing in new manufacturing technology. It’s both a safeguard for the disruption they’ve already seen (or are seeing), and a smart investment in a future that’s increasingly digital. As the world emerges from a chaotic 2020, manufacturers are creating their own stability in 2021, and they’re doing it through technology investments.
More than just a safeguard
Protection from disruption is just one reason for an anticipated uptick in manufacturing technology investments. Producers also are weighing the benefits (long- and short-term) of today’s emerging technologies. According to a study by Infiniti Research, there are several key drivers of new technology adoption coming to a head in 2021:
- Better quality products. Manufacturing is shifting away from a race to the bottom on price, with an emphasis on quality on the rise. To get better quality without a tremendous uptick in price, manufacturers are turning to technology.
- Efficiency and speed of production. The efficiency benefits of technology are widespread and readily recognized. Efficiency drives so many additional benefits that it’s often worth the cost of investment in and of itself.
- Cost optimization and reduction. Rising materials costs, reshoring, and supply chain disruptions in 2020 are all drivers of higher costs. To combat them, manufacturers are turning to technology as a great equalizer.
- New service opportunities. Automation and efficiency open the door to new value streams, while new technologies can yield insights about new opportunities. As producers seek to expand their capabilities, technology is teaching them how.
- Better data insights. Soon, every company will be a data company. Manufacturers embracing data insights at the beginning of the 2020s will find themselves positioned to succeed in the back half of the decade.
Above all, producers are turning to technology as a form of innovation. 2020 has shown us that companies with the ability to pivot and innovate will thrive. Those looking for a jumpstart in 2021 will be the first to make technology investments.
More reasons to go all-in on technology
Technology adoptions in 2021 will be benefits driven and enabled by today’s technology innovations. 5G is making smart factory infrastructure possible, for example. Machine learning brings context to data investments. Even the lingering disruptions of COVID-19 are, in a way, contributors to the innovation landscape.
What’s certain is that companies need to embrace technology to survive the upcoming decade, and many are using 2020 hardships as their motivation to jump in to a much more digitally driven 2021.