The Journey of Smart Manufacturing: How Far We’ve Come

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Virtually thousands of tech websites, articles and videos are buzzing with the same key themes. “Interconnected platforms”. “Autonomous networks”. “Smart machines” that communicate with each other and us and make contextual improvements. Machine Learning. Artificial Intelligence. Internet of Things. All of these are part of a new wave of manufacturing improvements brought on by the so called “Industry 4.0”.
powering intelligent manufacturing

Behind these incredible advances, there still remains a legitimate question of how best to execute the transition to a digitalized future. We’re equipped with the necessary resources and knowledge, but are we truly progressing when it comes to implementing the newest solutions?

This blog takes a look at the adoption rates of the most important technologies behind smart manufacturing, and their projected growth in the upcoming five years. The data used in this article was provided by the 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report.

Cloud computing

Rate of adoption: 57%
5-year projection: 91%

It seems many companies these days are aware of the benefits of solving their business process challenges with the help of the Cloud. Some of the top reasons for shifting away from on-premise solutions are the increasing need to do more with less resources, high integration levels, regular upgrades and vendor support. There’s an obvious trend going on in the tech industry, and it’s choosing the Cloud.

To review the benefits of a cloud-based ERP solution, click here.

Supply Chain optimization

Rate of adoption: 44%
5-year projection: 90%

In the digital era, manufacturers are realizing that “data gaps” present in their supply chains can hurt the organization’s ability to stay competitive. Focusing on better extracting and understanding data, manufacturers will be able to locate inefficiencies and make smarter investments. According to IDC predictions, by 2019, 50% of manufacturers will leverage digital technologies to improve their supply chain visibility. The percentage only goes up in a five-year projection.

Interested in learning more about Supply Chain optimization? Our articles about optimized inventory management and the digitalization of supply chain processes might be a good place to start.

Predictive analytics

Rate of adoption: 20%
5-year projection: 82%

Instead of relying on historical data, manufacturers are realizing that the big secret lies in better analyzing existing processes and leveraging AI and Machine Learning to make relevant adjustments at just the right time.

Take a look at four examples of how forecasting in real life works by clicking here.

Internet of Things

Rate of adoption: 22%
5-year projection: 79%

The introduction of IoT technology is quickly changing the way organizations operate. More and more companies are turning to IoT with the goal of optimizing production processes and increasing automation – regardless of what industries or industry segment they belong to. However, nowhere is this more noticeable than in the manufacturing sector, which has been undergoing a true technological revolution.

You can check out examples of IoT usage in supply chains by visiting this page. To see the IoT capabilities Merit Solutions can provide for your company, click here. To read about the advantages of the Industrial Internet of Things, check out this blog.

Mobile technology

Rate of adoption: 23%
5-year projection: 72%

Organizations which prioritize efficiency and practicality in order to increase the quality of their products and services are now turning to mobility projects to realize the full potential of today’s markets.

Integrating devices into one easily navigable, user-friendly network can make life easier for organizations and customers alike. Mobility saves you the hassle of having to be somewhere to get your job done, which goes a long way in any kind of business. That’s why this trend is going to skyrocket in the next five years.

Learn what Merit Solutions can do to empower your organization to go mobile here. You can also check out our article about the benefits of going mobile with Dynamics 365.

Artificial Intelligence

Rate of adoption: 6%
5-year projection: 47%

AI is expected to become an integral part of manufacturing process across various industries. It enables manufacturers to produce goods quickly and safely, while offering a platform for innovating and accelerating growth with more reliability and intelligent tools.

To better understand how AI helps improve specific business processes, check out our article on Quality Assurance. To learn how AI can help lean-oriented manufacturing strategies, read this.


The adoption rates of new technologies indicate a clear upward trend, but also prove that manufacturing is still pretty far from completing the “smart” business process transformation.

Artificial Intelligence, in particular, is poised to redefine our understanding of the industry and grow exponentially in the upcoming five years. Gauging the importance of AI is especially difficult to do, as its capabilities are drastically growing with each passing day, and its impact on all the other technologies listed in this blog is immense.

If your organization has ever considered making the switch to a newer, future-proof, high-tech powered system, now is the perfect time to go through with the initiative – with Merit Solutions and Dynamics 365, you can leverage cutting edge solutions to turn your manufacturing processes into smart ones. Click here to learn about the benefits of manufacturing with the Microsoft Platform.

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