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Manufacturers embrace technology as they prepare for an automated future

28 Jun 2022
Marc Sauter

Marc Sauter

Head of IoT Product Management,
Vodafone Business

Like most sectors, the manufacturing industry saw an acceleration in digital transformation during the pandemic.

Advances in technologies such as data and analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can see these organisations benefit from up to 30 to 50 percent reductions in machine downtime, increases in throughput, improvements in labour productivity, and 85 percent more accurate forecasting[1].

This can lead to not just positive financial returns, but a gain in environmental and social positives too. It is not surprising then that manufacturers are quicker than other sectors to embrace and adopt new technologies.

Manufacturers embrace technology

Accelerating their digital transformation plans in response to the pandemic, our Fit for the Future report found that 55% of manufacturers like to be the first to try out new technology, with just 19% waiting for technology to become mainstream before investing.

Using a range of modern technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, robotics, mobile private networks, and mobile-access edge computing, we found that these businesses were often ahead of other sectors surveyed.

Despite this, only a third were found to be ‘fit for the future’ (FFTF) and are therefore well-prepared to deal with future challenges – such as increased competition, changing employee expectations, and rising customer demand.

Those organisations that are considered ‘fit for the future’ tend to be further along in their digital transformation journeys and are more likely to outperform their competitors as a result[2].

Preparing for an automated future

Understanding the importance of technology to their future success, 67% of manufacturers now have a roadmap for digital transformation in place and almost half have increased their digital transformation budgets for the year ahead.

They also appreciate the need to embrace automation, with a quarter automating mundane tasks and 39% automating tasks they consider dangerous.

To ensure automation has a positive impact on their business, 43% of these companies are already training employees to build skillsets that cannot be replaced by automation to ensure employees’ jobs are future proofed.

The tools to grow

It’s clear that the manufacturing industry understands the benefits of digital transformation and technology, and the acceleration of adoption during the pandemic puts them in a good place for the world of tomorrow.

As automation increases, technologies such as IoT, 5G and mobile private networks are absolutely vital to securely connect assets in the factory and to enable innovative and new use cases like automated guided vehicles, AR/VR on the shop floor and connected robots.

These technologies can help manufacturers deal with future challenges, increase productivity and flexibility as well as providing them with the tools they need to grow.

Discover Ford’s factory of the future or learn more about how to accelerate your digital transformation plans.


[2] The LSE’s robust analysis states that businesses currently reporting average financial performance (compared to their competitors) that increase their future readiness score by ten points will increase the likelihood of outperforming the competition by 36%. Meanwhile looking at all companies’ Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) measures, organisations increasing their FR index by ten points can expect their ESG commitment to improve by six points; increasingly, requests for tender include ESG criteria.

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