On Industry 4.0, the US remains ahead of Europe

On Industry 4.0, the US remains ahead of Europe ...

By 2026, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) market is expected to raise over $106 billion. It''s no wonder businesses are doing everything they can to improve their operations, both in the wake of the epidemic and the customer''s delivery expectations reaching an all-time high.

Consider the dramatic transformation and new product adoption that occurred during the three previous industrial revolutions, initially stimulated by the use of water and steam power, then, in Industry 2.0, distributed electricity and assembly lines, followed by computers (Industry 3.0).

Industry 4.0 connects those disparate systems and layers on smart sensors for advanced integrated systems use cases. It is today poised to make industry a step further, bringing everything to an end, both predictive and autonomous.

Despite huge advances in IIoT technology, the US is still working in Industry 3.0, whereas other countries have more fully adopted Industry 4.0''s technologies and practices and are now even considering Industry 5.0.

According to statistics from the 2019 MPI Internet of Things Study, the US is significantly down from Europe and China in Industry 4.0 strategic readiness and implementing Industry 4.0-enabling technologies.

Two key questions are raised: Why has the US been slow to adopt some of the most recent IIoT technologies? What''s possible for U.S. businesses with Industry 4.0?

Whats the hold up?

Despite being a leading manufacturing country, many areas of the United States are still stuck in Industry 3.0. While firms in the United States are employing modern software tools to automate many of the processes within their factories, these systems often lack interconnectivity, real-time location data, and the learning that is possible with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

One study found that German corporations were more likely to adopt Industry 4.0 and had higher ambitions to implement and implement autonomous robotics than U.S. businesses. Although most US companies recognize that Industry 4.0 will be a critical part of their digital transformation strategy, implementation may be difficult, and these new technologies create new demands for employees.

Other factors that might be causing adoption include extensive investment in barcode technology that makes it difficult to switch to Auto-ID, poor early experiences with ultra-wideband (UWB) or similar technologies, and the delaying of the integration of location data into enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other systems.

Despite rising revenue from tax reform and strong consumer demand for their goods, manufacturers in the United States are unlikely to close the gap of Industry 4.0 investment [in 2019], although uncertainty about trade policy and general fear of a market correction will likely result.

Another result of the epidemic has been that things have been slowed even further. One study found that around one-third (36%) of U.S. businesses have lost their IoT investment plans, and 33 percent have canceled their IoT initiative altogether as a result of COVID-19.

Whats possible

In addition to a paradigm shift in the way organizations operate, industry 4.0 will offer a whole new world of possibilities. By interconnecting machines, adopting more intelligent software (that works and develops along with business processes) and implementing more location-aware sensors, organizations can gain critical insights about their factories and warehouses in real-time.

Imagine a cargo ship experiencing a terrible weather condition. In Industry 4.0, a company''s AI/ML software will have learned that this particular bad weather situation has a high probability of crashing into specific, learned delays. This technology can be adapted to learn from and predict delays in air and roadway traffic. This technology also provides visibility into bottlenecks that may occur right on the shop floor, in a warehouse, or on the assembly line in a factory.

Business 4.0s has proven to be critical in dealing with supply chain problems. Many pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have incurred an average of $184 million annually. Not only that, but a number of other disruptions have the potential to disrupt the supply chain at any given time. But with the right technology, businesses can be aware of where their assets are in the supply chain at any given time. Software can alert them so they can pivot their strategy.

This technology isnt only beneficial for addressing issues while maintaining regular operations, but also for sustaining sustainable growth. During the epidemic, e-commerce firms, for example, experienced substantial growth. Suddenly, online retailers were faced with fulfilling millions of orders with limited warehouse workers. These companies desperately needed technology that they could do more with less employees.

During this time, some businesses decided to remove barcodes in their warehouses. It is usually tedious for workers to go around and scan barcodes manually, but this is not the case when it comes to the pandemic. Using intelligent asset tags and software into this process, items can be automatically identified (Auto-ID) via a forklift as soon as the pallet is picked up, eliminating the need for a worker to physically walk up and scan each pallet or box.

Industry 5.0 is on the horizon

5.0 will be a factory that intends for itself. The future building will have access to and be able to properly process and learn from data to make decisions, handle issues and delays, and ensure that end-users receive what they need. In contrast to Industry 4.0, it will require little human input or intervention.

Industry 5.0 isn''t far away; as previously stated, some countries are already adopting these trailblazing technologies. It''s time for the United States to fully embrace and begin reaping the benefits of Industry 4.0.

At Inpixon, Ersan Guenes is the senior vice president of product and IIoT.

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