Smart Manufacturing / Digitalization

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Crossing from ad hoc pilots to full scale-up

The road may be longer than the hype implies, but preparing for and embracing change is a muscle many of today’s manufacturers are ready to flex.

By Chad Moutray and Jeff Sorensen for Smart Industry

The fourth industrial revolution—the melding of the physical and digital worlds—has been on a gradual march for some time. Yet, recently, it seems to have reached a healthy jog.

Indeed, 4IR tech is changing how we produce things, track the supply chain, add intelligence to our products, and enlist the kind of labor force we need to carry all of this out. Part of the reason for this is that core 4IR technologies (from collaborative robotics to the Industrial Internet of Things to artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and virtual/augmented reality) are becoming less expensive, more powerful and easier to deploy. Consider, for instance, that the number annual of shipments of industrial robots in the US has steadily risen to 46,000 in 2017, up from 17,000 in 2010.

To get a clearer picture of how 4IR adoption is playing out, PwC and The Manufacturing Institute surveyed about 100 US manufacturers. As our report indicates, while most manufacturers recognize the potential value 4IR technologies can offer, many are still learning how and where to invest to capture productivity and bottom-line returns—4IR’s “golden fleece.”

To learn more, read "Could the Fourth Industrial Revolution create a manufacturing renaissance?" from Smart Industry.