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Industrial Automation Outlook

DuckerFrontier, July 21, 2020

Automation in the manufacturing process has already established a strong foothold across most industry segments and has excelled in many sectors.  For some manufacturing processes, industrial automation is the justification of investing in a piece of equipment to supplement or replace a manual process.  According to a recent survey DuckerFrontier conducted of North American industrial automation companies, approximately 75% of participants believe the impact of COVID-19 will prompt manufacturers to increase their investment in automation technology.  Respondents cite several reasons for increased investment, including:

  • Increased health and safety protocols requiring minimum distances between employees
  • Minimized downtime in the manufacturing process
  • Reduction in workforce liability
  • Optimization of manufacturing floor space

According to a recent survey DuckerFrontier conducted of North American industrial automation companies, approximately 75% of participants believe the impact of COVID-19 will prompt manufacturers to increase their investment in automation technology.

However, while there may be slowdown in the investment in automation technology, most companies still view the implementation of manufacturing automation as a method to both increase productivity and to reduce labor costs.  Which, up until the recent shutdowns due to COVID-19, a key variable for implementing automation was to offset the increasing cost of labor during a period of low unemployment.  In a post-COVID-19 environment, we may still see a delay in investment until unemployment rates are near pre-pandemic levels, regardless of industry sentiment.

Evolution and Trends in Industrial Automation

For many other manufacturing companies, industrial automation has pushed the boundaries into the current era of “big data”.  In a post-COVID-19 environment, companies focused on the next era of industrial automation should see a big advantage across the segment.  Below are several trends leading the industry that are likely to see successful growth patterns.

  • Component Integration – Manufacturers with multi-stage processes continue to look for ways to integrate components across their system with the ability to control units separately through a standardized user interface. Trends continue to push software designers and equipment manufacturers down a path of incorporating a common language or open architecture formats.
  • Remote Monitoring – Currently adopted and implemented by larger manufacturers to reduce equipment downtime and maintain consistent throughput. However, mid-sized organizations are increasing their investment in equipment with remote monitoring capabilities to optimize operating costs and reduce service costs as well.
  • Predictive Maintenance – Asset-rich organizations continue to focus on ways to mitigate risk of equipment downtime that can cripple manufacturing lines, reduce delivery times and back up inventory. Predictive maintenance focuses on analyzing data collected from real-time operation of equipment to provide owners with an optimized maintenance schedule to prevent disruption in the manufacturing process.
  • Augmented Reality – While most consumers will identify this category as a type of entertainment, manufacturers are beginning to utilize augmented reality equipment to reduce maintenance and repair costs. In order to reduce equipment downtime, companies are implementing this next level technology to allow technicians to guide on-site staff through maintenance or repair actions in real time.
  • Cobots – Formally known as collaborative robots, “cobots” are robots that work in a shared physical space with humans, helping improve efficiency and consistent quality. Cobots typically require lower capital investments making them more accessible to small and medium-sized business.  Additionally, they are also known to be easier to program than typical industrial robots.  Cobots are becoming popular across a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, and some medical device manufacturers.

Whether you are looking to understand market trends, get a granular analysis of competitor positioning, or profile and map opportunities in an adjacent segment or, technology, you can trust DuckerFrontier to be the credible partner you need. We are constantly connected to leaders on the ground and have access to key industry decision makers. Our ready wealth of knowledge can expedite your growth strategy and help you navigate the turbulent factors impacting your industry today. Contact a member of our industrial team today at info@duckerfrontier.com.

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