3D Printing

Disruptive Technologies and Trends for Industry 4.0 in The Year Ahead

Mike Szudarek, Marx Layne & Company
December 2, 2020
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With 2021 on the horizon, a new year brings with it new levels of disruption and change.

With 2021 on the horizon, a new year brings with it new levels of disruption and change. Here are some key trends that businesses in Industry 4.0 should anticipate and prepare to adopt in the coming year.

Big Data

Today’s high-tech vehicles function more like smartphones than the vehicles of the past. They ship with hundreds of sensors, and SIM cards for connectivity. And, they deliver a lot of data to automakers and the suppliers who help a vehicle come together. Consider it the ‘iPhonication’ of the auto industry.

Whether we like it or not, Big Data will continue to play an key role in how vehicles are developed. Automated feedback from vehicles lets automakers know when and how systems are failing, which can lead to improvements in how the next batch of vehicles is produced. According to a study by the German institute Fraunhofer IFA, this type of information could allow companies to save between 10% and 20% in maintenance costs.

Insurance companies will also benefit from the data gathered by vehicles — as this info tells them more about how their customers drive and helps reduce fraud. Drivers, too, will benefit, through improved quality of apps providing drivers with accurate navigation and parking information.

Privacy concerns are always present when Big Data advances are made, so it’s essential the consumer be kept in the loop about what data of theirs is being shared and be given the choice to opt out where possible. In the end, this trend will be beneficial to the Industry 4.0 ecosystem that supports advanced vehicle technology and the mounds of data that come with it.

Growth in Artificial Intelligence

While not a brand new trend, AI will kick into a higher gear in 2021 as companies get better at teaching machines how to operate in their factory settings. This is an area that is constantly evolving, and will continue to grow rapidly — especially in scenarios where training machines to do more work and at a quicker pace will help the bottom line. This will also mean an increase in demand for workers who know how to work with and program these machines, as there is still a human element involved in keeping AI running.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) will only continue to advance in 2021. This involves an increase in connectivity among ALL our devices, allowing them to communicate with each other. Wireless signals can allow all Smart Home appliances to communicate and integrate, for example. For the businesses of Industry 4.0, the IoT can be applied in the factory, and will lead to changes in production and supply chain processes to improve workflow. These change will take years to be fully implemented in the business world, but will see significant steps forward taken in 2021.

Developments in 3D Printing

Another technology that continues to advance at a rapid pace, 3D printing can be helpful for
companies looking for innovative ways to cut down on costs. It can lower the cost of making new product prototypes, and allows for more on-demand production, meaning smaller spaces can be purchased for storage and production.  This technology has skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. For cutting-edge companies, it’s now an essential part of their production planning.

Growth of 5G

Many of these technologies will be helped along in 2021 by the growth of 5G networks. The influence of 5G on the future of Industry 4.0, especially the automotive sector, will be massive. It could be the kicker that makes the move to Autonomous Vehicles a more realistic possibility in the short-term future.

The speed and low latency of 5G will allow vehicles to communicate with one another, and presents the option of vehicles sharing data with each other as the pass on the roadways. This communication could improve traffic flow, and limit or eliminate the running of red lights. The ultimate goal, once vehicles are all connected to one another, is that technology will eliminate the need for traffic lights and stop signs altogether.

Mike Szudarek, Marx Layne & Company
Mike Szudarek, Marx Layne & Company

Mike Szudarek leads Marx Layne & Company’s automotive practice and has more than two decades of experience counseling clients in the automotive and technology sectors. He previously served with a Fortune 500 company and has been on both the corporate and agency side of the communications business, understanding first-hand the many issues and challenges businesses face. He has experience working with OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and aftermarket industries, in addition to a specialization in mobility and autonomous driving. Szudarek holds memberships with the Automotive Press Association and the Public Relations Society of America. Marx Layne & Company has over three decades of experience guiding businesses large and small through crises.

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