The number of manufacturers supporting a fully connected factory would nearly triple by 2022, according to Zebra Technologies Corporation’s 2017 Asia Pacific Manufacturing Vision Study, a body of research analyzing the emerging trends shaping the future of industrial manufacturing. This means 46 percent anticipate having the capability in five years’ time.
The study also reveals that manufacturers will continue to adopt Industry 4.0 and the smart factory. Workers will use a combination of radio frequency identification (RFID), wearable technologies, automated systems and other emerging technologies to monitor the physical processes of the plant and enable companies to make decentralized decisions.
APAC manufacturers will lead the way globally, with 77 percent of respondents expecting to collect data from production, supply chain, and workers in a holistic manner by 2020, compared to 46 percent doing so today.
Executives across APAC cited achieving quality assurance as their top priority over the next five years. Forward-looking manufacturers are embracing a quality-minded philosophy to drive growth, throughput and profitability.
A top concern
In a sign that improvements made by both suppliers and manufacturers will ultimately boost the quality of finished goods, fewer respondents say quality-related issues will be a top concern in the future. Today, 55 percent of manufacturers see quality as a top concern, but this falls to 35 percent in 2022.
The study also shows that manufacturers expect to expand the level of technology use between now and 2022, specifically mobile technology (27 percent vs 72 percent), wearable technology (33 percent vs 65 percent), location tracking (38 percent vs 51 percent), and voice technology (45 percent vs 51 percent).
Forty-two percent of the manufacturers expect investments in visibility technology to spur growth. Fifty-five percent will implement real-time location systems (RTLS) and 48 percent plan to use RFID by 2022, providing the much-needed transparency across their operations.
By 2022, 44 percent of manufacturers expect to enable Just-In-Time (JIT) notifications for their customers. The request will increasingly come from the high-tech (48 percent), pharmaceutical (40 percent), automotive (35 percent), and food & beverage (36 percent) industries.
“Manufacturers are entering a new era where there are increasing expectations of faster and higher quality production along with highly competitive margins,” says Ryan Goh, Vice President and General Manager, Zebra Technologies, Asia Pacific.
“This trend is especially relevant for Asia Pacific – a region often regarded as the manufacturing hub of the world. The Zebra APAC Manufacturing Vision Study shows that savvy manufacturers have started to invest in smart factory technologies to reap benefits such as enhanced productivity, increased visibility, and the ability to predict demands. As we move toward Industry 4.0, this trend will continue to expand and shape the industry in the coming years.”