Reporting on the new age of manufacturing

Nov. 4, 2020
“Enterprises all talk the same language and are in a very similar boat!”

In its recently released report Connected Industries, Ericsson explored the power of digital transformation across industries (including manufacturing), featuring interviews with OEMs about how IoT and 5G are transforming businesses and what innovations have yet to come.

They heralded a “new age of manufacturing,” which caught our eye. So we connected with Warren Chaisatien, Ericsson global director of IoT customer success marketing and author of the report, for a deeper dive. Take a look…

Smart Industry: What most surprised you in the results of the interviews?

Warren: The most surprising result was that enterprises (regardless of their products and the industries they operate in, where they are in the world, or who they serve) are going through the same journey and sharing common drivers when it comes to digital transformation. In other words, they all talk the same language and are in a very similar boat! In the report, I outline six common drivers, three specific to business and three to technology. The business drivers include business transformation, performance optimization, and sustainability. The technology drivers include digitalization and automation, security and privacy, and flexibility and scalability.

Smart Industry: The demand for customized products is growing. Are manufacturer ready to meet this challenge? What are the most common obstacles in doing so?

Warren: Many front-running manufacturers are getting there. Customized products require intelligence at both the product itself and the facility producing that product. Say if you’re a manufacturer of furniture; once your furniture is smart (i.e. connected), you know how it is being used, which parts experience the most wear and tear, under which circumstances the furniture breaks, etc. This insight will help you design and develop the next generation of furniture that better meets user demand.

Now to personalization; users no doubt will want furniture that exactly suits their physiques and their personal taste. So I may want to order a desk that’s two inches taller than usual and have it in dark blue color. This requires an intelligent, flexible and connected factory. The most common obstacles today is that either the product or the factory is connected, but not both, resulting in incomplete visibility of the products throughout their lifecycles. In the report, I talk about Danish water-pump manufacturer Grundfos, which has not only connected their pumps with cellular technology but also started to connect their factory with a 5G network.

Smart Industry: What are the most common mindsets about 5G? What is maturity level of understanding and adoption? What is inhibiting adoption?

Warren: The enterprises we spoke with were very positive about 5G even though not all of them are using it today. They viewed 5G as a technology that will bring big changes on many fronts, from the way their customers interact with their products through virtual reality, for example, to new product innovation, such as dynamic maps with real-time traffic conditions for drivers and smart grids that will adapt to the fluctuation of renewable energy sources—not to mention the greater internal efficiency gains and cost savings businesses will enjoy through asset monitoring and increased physical safety of workers.

The maturity level of understanding is pretty much on par across the industries, but adoption varies. Industrial manufacturing and automotive are early adopters. Like other technologies that have come before it, one of the biggest inhibitors of 5G today is business-case justification.

Smart Industry: What is most encouraging in this report?

Warren: The most encouraging finding is that digital transformation is no longer just a hot topic in the boardroom; businesses are actually taking action. A confluence of technological advancements—not only 5G but also AI and edge computing—are fueling enterprise IoT in every sector.

When thinking about digital transformation, it’s very important to get the foundation right; that foundation is connectivity—whether you want to connect your products or production or both. Cellular has proven to be the most versatile and robust connectivity technology for enterprises of all sizes in any sector because it provides unmatched coverage, security and reliability for connected assets anywhere.