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Five (human) predictions for the future of manufacturing in 2020

Jan. 22, 2020
Industrialists will ask culture to catch up with technology.

*I must start this piece with the usual caveat that the challenge of accurately predicting the future of the manufacturing sector is significantly more complicated than it is to identify emerging problems with industrial machinery.

When it comes to analyzing large numbers of production assets, we use critical industrial data stored in factory historians and IoT platforms, combined with sophisticated, self-improving machine-learning algorithms. These are powered by deep condition-monitoring expertise and provide unique insights into the health of each monitored machine.

Doing so allows our customers to anticipate future problems.

But while this task makes use of plentiful quantitative information and cutting edge AI, predicting the future of manufacturing requires more qualitative insight and is prone to more of the vagaries of human interpretation.

Senseye's Dr. Simon Kampa

Nevertheless, ongoing conversations with scores of large industrial organizations, including several of our Global Fortune 500 clients, informed our predictions for 2020. We are confident that our top five predictions for the manufacturing sector in 2020 will provide some useful indication for what to expect.

1. Leaders will emerge in the IIoT-platform market. We expect to see a degree of consolidation in the IIoT platform market, as clear leaders in the space start to emerge during 2020. Industrial organizations will coalesce around a handful of providers over the next two to three years as the various choices become tried and tested. Siemens, OSIsoft, and PTC all have robust offerings and are likely to do well. FANUC, a new player entering this space, is set to deliver a strong platform in 2020.

Find more predictions for the coming year in our 2020 Digital Transformation Crystal Ball Report. Click the cover to get your copy.

2. Greater focus around operational-data gathering. 2020 will be the year large industrial organizations get smart about the data they gather from their operational environments. Manufacturers recognize now that they need consistent, meaningful and comparable data sets to optimize their production processes. They are moving away from wasteful practices that involve gathering all the data they possibly can and looking for new sources of meaning and value in these vast unstructured sources. Their focus has moved to specific data sets, such as asset-condition indicators, that industrial organizations can be sure will add value.

3. Early return on investment for servitization. The move toward servitization will gather pace in 2020 as manufacturers move away from product-centric business models to bundled product-and-service ones. We expect to see some real progress in this direction over the next 12 months, with OEMs taking over more aspects of their industrial customers' machine-monitoring and maintenance activities.

4. More large-scale deployments for predictive maintenance. Adoption of data-driven predictive maintenance (PdM) best practices will reach an inflection point in 2020. PdM-specialized software applications have already shown to be a compelling solution for Industry 4.0 adopters through a wide range of low-scale implementations and proof-of-concept work. More and more of these limited early deployments are now delivering impressive results and ROI. PdM applications will become a mainstream maintenance solution for larger industrial organizations as they are expanded factory-wide in 2020.

5. Industrialists ask culture to catch up with technology. And finally, 2020 will be the year in which large industrial organizations look seriously at how their maintenance culture could be limiting the potential for Industry 4.0. New technologies have proven themselves to be incredibly powerful in the quest for higher productivity. The falling costs of these offerings and potential ROI mean that the only obstacle to real digital transformation today is fear of change or lack of frameworks to transform existing approaches. Leaders will increasingly seek the support of vendors when engaging their workforces around the need for change and exploring how technology can enhance (rather than replace) the roles that people play.

Dr. Simon Kampa is founder & CEO of Senseye