Electronics and appliance manufacturers lead in Industry 4.0 tech investments

Industry 4.0. Source:Nokia

The recent ‘Industry 4.0 Maturity Index’ by Nokia and ABI Research on the progress and plans for enterprise infrastructure investments revealed that electronics and appliance manufacturers are leading the way in terms of technology investments.

The investments made by the electronics and appliance manufacturing sectors include deploying ruggedized devices to workers, cloud-based warehouse management systems for supply chain and logistics, and utilizing digital technologies for preventative maintenance use cases, data analytics, and drones for industrial applications.

Overall, when the industry average score is found to be 66 out of 100 for technology maturity and 68.8 for use case deployment maturity, electronics and appliance manufacturers are forging ahead with scores of 73.1 and 79.5 respectively.

The process of adopting Industry 4.0 technologies is not without challenges. Many I&M companies are encountering obstacles due to a lack of internal expertise or a misalignment between the perspectives of their IT and OT departments.

To prevent poor performance, IT infrastructure upgrades should be synchronized with the use cases being implemented. Without proper planning, additional use cases could overload the IT infrastructure, while maintaining excess capacity would waste precious resources, according to the survey.

I&M firms are rolling out 4G and 5G networks, as well as investing in Wi-Fi across their facilities. They are also expanding their use of cloud applications and supporting remote workers with mobile devices.

Below are some of the key trends in investments and use case deployments in I&M

  • Companies specializing in electronics and appliances are at the forefront of investing in private 5G and edge computing, which can support their data strategies.
  • Fabricated metal producers are investing in campus networks and private 4G to control their equipment and operations, meeting customer needs and sustainability goals.
  • Petroleum producers require alignment between their IT and OT teams to monitor emissions and use drones to maintain safety levels.
  • Chemical producers are leveraging data to comply with regulations, support customers, and optimize their workforce.
  • Port operators and logistics companies need to catch up with other industries in terms of deploying use cases such as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and maximize their IT infrastructure.
  • Mining companies consider investments in digital transformation due to production issues, making it a priority to digitize their equipment to monitor emissions.
  • Manufacturers of heavy machinery must invest in digitizing their production machinery and software applications to better align their IT and OT environments.

Furthermore, the research found that optimizing workforce operations and safety, and supporting the company’s sustainability goals are the key drivers for implementing digitalization.

The survey found that digital transformation is part of both corporate and IT strategies. It is less about external considerations such as labor shortages or compliance considerations.

Industry 4.0 maturity index
Michael Larner, research director ABI Research, said: “We are seeing a market trend for adopting private 5G in an end-to-end approach. For a successful transformation the need to align IT and operational technology (OT) is clear. IT departments will continue to play an important role in digital transformation using IT to support the delivery of OT the most efficient way.”

Stephan Litjens, VP of Enterprise Campus Edge business at Nokia, said: “The industry 4.0 maturity index and self-assessment tool help industrial campuses to understand where they are and how to progress. We see investments scaling up this year, and this is confirmed by this research that show that industries are, on average, moving closer to aligning IT and OT.”


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