Key Points

  • Companies are slowly dipping their toes into this year’s trends rather than jumping in headfirst.
  • Industry 4.0 bridges the physical assets created through manufacturing with digital technologies.
  • Businesses are incorporating automation to maintain productivity when manpower is unavailable.

Over the last half decade, the manufacturing industry has witnessed a slow but decisive shift toward trends such as automation, robotics and Industry 4.0 capabilities. However, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of these trends for many companies.

What does this mean for business leaders today?

Josh McNeely, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at RedViking, and Lexi Vargo, RedViking’s Director of Marketing, provide some insight into what manufacturing businesses can expect in 2021.

“We service different industries,” said McNeely, listing markets like automotive, off-highway, military, aerospace and new energy. “And, depending on the industry, we’ve seen a varying adoption of these trends.”

“But I would say the common theme through all manufacturing has really been around simplification, automation, smart connectivity with our devices and limiting risk.”

He and Vargo also note the growing importance of Industry 4.0 in recent industry discussions.

Essentially, Industry 4.0 is “bridging the physical assets of the industry with digital technologies,” Vargo said. “The more we can do that for a manufacturer and throughout the supply chain, the better they can compete with other companies and gain market share.”

This trend in particular is changing how companies operate in areas like hiring and supply chain management, and businesses that want to get ahead would do well to incorporate this trend into their own organization.

Of course, it’s important to understand the best way to implement this trend before jumping in headfirst. McNeely observed that most companies right now are taking a “staggered approach, a strategic approach. They’re limiting their investment and testing these technologies… Each industry is figuring that out for themselves.”

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