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There will be a widespread transformation of manufacturing enterprises in the coming years, including a rapid rise in ICT-enabled production tools such as augmented reality, exoskeletons, and remote control, according to Ericsson Industry Lab Future of Enterprises report, Rise of the Smarter, Swifter, Safer Production Employee.
Marking the second edition of the Ericsson IndustryLab Future of Enterprises report series, it forecasts new factory set-ups including, manufacturing-as-a-service and pop-up factories.
According to the report research, most manufacturing enterprises expect to be at least 80% automated within ten years, with many expecting to see at least a two-fold rise in the use of ICT-enabled tools within the next five years.
The tools are AI software, video recognition, augmented and virtual reality, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and exoskeletons.
As an external body cover, exoskeletons can provide production employees with increased strength, precision, and endurance.
The report also explores the future of enterprise operations. It takes an in-depth look at the future of manufacturing, gathering insights that represent 145 million production employees across 22 markets.
The report finds that most manufacturing enterprises have emerged largely unharmed from the worst effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic with 69% reporting an unchanged, or even improved, financial performance since lockdowns began.
However, in response to tough global competition and constant pressures to increase productivity and efficiency, eight in ten manufacturing enterprises operated under cost-cutting targets.
To handle this demanding environment and enable production employees to be smarter, swifter and safer, manufacturers are introducing ICT production tools, the report finds.
These tools include: artificial intelligence (AI) software, augmented reality (AR), co-bots, video recognition, digital twins, remote-controlled machines, and vehicles.
Seven in ten manufacturing enterprises say that they plan to deploy five or more production tools enabled by advanced wireless networks, such as 5G, within five years.
“It’s exciting to see wireless connectivity mature and becoming an enabler for businesses to put advanced system support in the hands of the people in the frontline, on the factory floor, in the mine and along the supply chain,” says Ericsson smart manufacturing portfolio manager Sebastian Elmgren.
“With automation increasing, manufacturers will be able to create more safe and efficient work environments, something we have also seen in our own factories including Ericsson 5G smart factories in the US, Tallinn, and Nanjing, which are all equipped with private networks.”
Manufacturers that currently use three or more ICT-enabled production tools, defined in the report as tool frontrunners, enjoyed significantly improved financial performance compared to companies who did not use any tools at all.
“We were amazed to see that tool frontrunners were progressive in almost every aspect, not only more financially successful but also that they enjoyed higher overall employee satisfaction and are leading in sustainability actions,” concludes Ericsson 5G industry collaborations research leader and author of the report Rowan Högman.
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 22 November 2021.
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