The 4th Industrial Revolution has turned manufacturing from a value chain-based ecosystem to a stakeholder web-based ecosystem, bringing together new technologies and computer services ranging from edge intelligence and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms and Augmented Reality (AR). The link to these technology vendors will only grow stronger as they continue to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace, meeting the core needs of the manufacturing sector.
Hundreds of Internet of Things platforms have cropped up across verticals and end markets, and Smart Manufacturing has its own collection of Industrial IoT Application Enablement Platforms (AEPs). These AEPs extract data from devices and move it to applications based at the edge or in the cloud. This platform might have connectivity or device management tools. It might also act as a data orchestration system and include an app store or have app development capabilities whereby users can create and access applications that generate insights from their data. Several IIoT AEP providers have incorporated other transformative technologies such as digital twins, machine learning, blockchain, AR, edge intelligence and simulation software into their offering.
The end-users, manufacturers, do not want to experiment with technology that could disrupt all their operations. Most want technology that they can implement easily. They will change the way their employees perform jobs with technology if it will make them more productive, but they have no desire to rip out their entire infrastructure to try something new. This means technologies that can leverage existing equipment and infrastructure, such as edge intelligence, have the most immediate opportunity.
The transition towards a lights-out factory has started, but such a major disruption will require an overhaul of workforces, IT architecture, physical facilities and equipment, and full integration of dozens of new technologies. This transformative horizon report outlines those technologies, the opportunities and inhibitors they will face, and product offerings from leading and emerging vendors in IIoT platforms, additive manufacturing, digital twins, and robotics. It presents an overview of technologies of which ABI Research will provide deeper analyses in upcoming reports.