Industry 4.0 Survey Highlights: 2020 Global Manufacturing Trends Brought to You by SME and Plataine

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 Brought by Plataine, the leading manufacturing optimization software for advanced manufacturing and Aerospace composites.
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The digital manufacturing transformation is continuing to grow at full speed. As it is a part of a cross industry shift, specifically in the advanced manufacturing industry, enterprises deal with crucial and expensive procedures. The digital transformation requires strategic planning and a multi-stage implementation that requires resources and budgets. 

Being a tech player in the digital manufacturing ecosystem, we surveyed the market again to identify important Industry 4.0 trends in 2020. We compared the findings to trends we’ve identified in our last survey that we ran in 2018, and we published an industry report that presents and highlights our most important findings. As you will soon read, a lot has changed over the course of 2 years.  

 This new report, which is a joint effort by Plataine and SME, was designed to provide executives and decision makers in our field with the insights they need to march their factory forward. 

Who took part in the survey?

The survey relies on over 200 executives in advanced manufacturing across a wide range of industries: Aerospace & Defense, Metals, Engineering & Construction, Electronics, Medical Equipment, Furniture & Upholstery, Oil & Gas, and more. 

Participants were located in North and Latin America, Europe, and Asia. 

The businesses taking part in this survey use a variety of information systems, including ERP, CRM, MES, and IIoT. No stone was left unturned.  

To read the full report, click the banner : 

Strategy and planning first 

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that nothing great ever happens without a solid strategy. Major changes in the manufacturing field require a detailed and constructed plan in order to be adequately executed. That’s why one of our first steps with this survey was to check who keeps digital transformation in mind. Back in 2018, 27% of participants stated that they are currently implementing or evaluating their company’s digital manufacturing strategies. 55% of participants in our 2018 survey were not even interested in doing so. But, as you can see below in 2020, 84% of participants said they are currently evaluating or implementing solutions. Only 12% of participants admitted they are not at all interested in digital manufacturing strategies. 

What makes a leader? 

We wanted to know if there’s a clear correlation between industry leaders and their approach towards digitalization. Therefore, we divided participants into three groups: Industry leaders, average and finally, late-adopters. The leaders won this coveted title thanks to their ability to demonstrate high-quality standards, year after year. 

Then, we took things a step further and checked if there was any correlation between their industry position and their implementation status (current or planned) of Industry 4.0 solutions. 

As we assumed, Industry leaders were much more likely to take a bigger leap towards industry 4.0 in 2020 vs’ 2018. 

The hard truth about rework

Even if you absolutely love what you do, no one wants to perform the same task more than once for the wrong reason. Rework is a sensitive issue in manufacturing, because it says quite a bit about the quality of work, power of processes, frequency of error, and room for digital support that is missing. It also costs the Company a lot of time and money.

In our survey, we chose to examine the issue of rework through an interesting angle by comparing the rework rates of companies from different tiers. We also examined the possible influence of digital manufacturing implementation strategy on the company’s rework rates. Do companies that embrace digital solutions enjoy higher quality rates? Download the report to find out.

While 62% of participants that already implemented a digital manufacturing strategy said their rework rates are as low as 0-1.5%, only 31% of the participants that said they are not interested in digitalization, reached these impressive low rates. 

By the way, the vast majority of the “not interested” group admitted they don’t know what their rework rates are (Bury your head in the sand anyone?) 

Download the survey report now to discover the rework rates of companies like yours and others (such as players that already have digitized their factories to some extent, are implementing some solutions now and so forth).

Taking on the challenge

Digital transformation in the manufacturing world presents a number of challenges. We asked participants to tell us about their biggest day-to-day work challenges and learned about a specific demand for solutions that will reduce risk and cost, improve capacity and on-time delivery rates, fulfil compliance requirements, and more. 

We acknowledge the fact that Covid19 reshuffled the cards, but the basic needs remained and additional challenges and needs were added. 

Then, we spoke about their specific challenges in onboarding new digital tools and techniques. Do they need simpler, more intuitive solutions? Are they worried about the lack of talent, support and budget that will allow for a smooth digital transformation procedure? Do they face poor security measures or unclear ROI? 

54% mentioned that their major challenge is lowering production costs, while 51% mentioned the need to improve delivery times. As for all other popular challenge categories – Download the full report to find out. 

What companies actually need

Conducting this survey enabled us to ask hundreds of executives which technologies would be most of assistance to them and how critical they are to the company’s success. We asked about technologies such as Blockchain, simulation solutions, big data analysis, AI, 3D, and more. 

Other than Process and product simulation which got to #1 as seen below, can you guess what additional popular technologies are in high demand? To get the answers, download the report. 


To summarize the main takeouts from the survey, It seems that enterprises are growing their  investments in Industry 4.0 technologies and are proactively implementing solutions to help them increase efficiency, lower manual overhead, scale the production, minimize costs and maintain the quality.

This survey, which was conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak, shows some powerful trends in the manufacturing business and the digital transformation process it has been going through over the past few years. It is therefore clear that today, in the new now, many industries understand the importance of technology in protecting and supporting their business resilience.  

Looking at the future, we can only expect higher adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions and can’t wait to see the results of our next survey. 

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