Top 4 Technologies driving change in manufacturing

Ever since the first industrial revolution, manufacturers have been one of the most eager and innovative users of progressive technologies across its ecosystems. Connected manufacturing is quickly becoming among the most significant technology-based generational shifts. These technological shifts are no less important than steam power, electricity or automation have been! All these innovations in their time led to incremental changes across the industry.

Connected manufacturing has rapidly achieved similar status. The speed at which organizations are moving to for example, completely paperless operations or swapping to low-cost consumer devices in roles that used to require specialized equipment. Companies that are using the cloud to connect their business processes, people, suppliers and customers can see the pay-offs these technologies have. More than one third of manufacturers in United States say that their revenue increases stem from the application of new technology.

These are the 4 biggest new technologies driving change in manufacturing:

1. Connected manufacturing - IIoT

2. Cloud Computing

3. Additive Manufacturing - 3D printing & wearables

4. Deeper machine data mining and alalysing

Keep reading to find out more about how industry leaders are implementing these new technologies and what to expect in the near future!


IIoT has caught the attention of business professionals across industries and it is the cornerstone of the 4th industrial revolution. Manufacturers today, are legless without IoT, so they are improving machine integration by using cloud technology and striving to improve mobile and personal device connectivity.

The use of robotics is also becoming a huge trend among manufacturers. Since 2016 there has been a 25% increase in robotics' deployments and it's already commonly used in manufacturing operations. The use of robotics continues to expand into Tier One as well as mid-sized organizations, as prices have decreased and the programming and configuring functions have become simpler.



An increase has also been witnessed in additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Additive manufacturing is still commonly used for prototyping and holds promise as a direct connection between concept, design and execution. Even complex part assemblies can be constructed with additive equipment, so the adoption of additive manufacturing is expected to grow and accelerate in the near future. Sensors and IP-enabled tools and machines are also utilized in increasing numbers of manufacturers.

Mobility and human interfaces continue to be an important focus for manufacturers. Connectivity of cloud systems is enabling them to leverage consumer mobile devices to support consumers and employees in every facet of business. More and more manufacturers are deploying tablets in their processes and many are moving towards completely paperless operations. The adoption of wearable devices also show an increase compared to last year, for example, according to PLEX's research, the use of smart watches alone has doubled amongst manufacturers. The reason for the extensive experimentation with these devices is caused by their cost and easy connectivity.

Ultimately, mobile user support is now omnipresent for the entire industry. The use of mobile phones, laptops, and hand scanners is still as popular as ever within the industry. These device are also supporting the integration of cloud-based software that bring multiple benefits to the organization.


Supplier and customer relationships are fundamental to manufacturing. High efficiency and optimal quality have little significance if the materials are scarce or substandard. Availability of products is not equal to on-time delivery. The increase in deployed cloud-based systems, the improvements in data and analytics and real-time telemetry through-out the value chain reflect to the supply chain performance. The majority of manufacturers that have implemented these technologies recognize improvements in their overall supply chain performance as a direct result of cloud based systems. This reflects an accumulated benefit from business-wide connected manufacturing, real-time access to data and improved communications.

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What’s next: 

  • Connective technology on the shop floor continues to grow. According to PLEX's survey, leading manufacturers have already deployed connected solutions, and strategies aim to add more devices and sensors, and thereby more data, to the enterprise backbone. Efforts include better informing mobile workers on the shop floor and deeper machine data mining to improve and extend the performance of equipment and shop floor consumables. 
  • According to the survey, the connected supply chain is expected to grow hugely in the near future. More than 30% of PLEX's respondents are already focusing on connected solutions and another 30% are implementing this new technology in the next 5 years. Similarly, more than 30 percent are expecting to integrate sales and operations planning within the next five years. This can be a shift within the industry that builds directly on the connected manufacturing, access to real-time data, and enhanced integration capabilities. 
  • While there are risks that are being monitored and managed, manufacturers should be concerned about the availability of skilled employees. Finding employees with the needed skills in the new technologies that are being adopted is becoming more and more competitive. Training skilled workforce or finding it, will require more time, energy and engagement.
  • Technology is once again accelerating chance across industries - Supply chains will continue to undergo transformation through connected technologies and the way workforce, facilities and the extended ecosystem is being leveraged.


Manufacturers’ investments in innovations aren’t just changing the way things are made across the planet. As advocates of the 4th Industrial Revolution, technology is once again acting as the main accelerator for change across the entire industry, transforming ecosystems, and providing new platforms for further innovation.

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Read PLEX's whole survey here: