Hoosier manufacturers ramping up adoption of advanced technologies, report shows

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More than half of Hoosier manufacturers surveyed by Conexus Indiana this year said they have implemented or piloted at least one digital technology into their operations—a dramatic increase from just two years ago.

Conexus this week announced the results of its third annual Industry 4.0 Technology Adoption Report, which looks at Indiana manufacturers’ adoption rates for various types of technology, ranging from cobots to data analytics to 3D printing, among others. The report is a joint effort between Conexus and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business at IUPUI.

In this year’s survey, 32% of respondents said they had successfully implemented one or more technologies into their operations or manufacturing process. Another 26% said they were currently conducting their first pilot project.

In comparison, the percentages for the 2021 survey were 27% and 16%, respectively. In 2020, those percentages were just 15% and 6%.

Only 4% of this year’s respondents said they had no foreseeable plans to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies, as compared with 13% last year and 31% in 2020.

This year’s survey included responses from nearly 200 manufacturers of varying sizes.

Another telling statistic from this year’s report: 52% of respondents said they had identified an individual or team who was responsible for implementing their company’s Industry 4.0 strategy.

“Most of these leaders volunteered for the job. They knew it was important,” said Mark Frohlich, associate professor of operations management and the Gregg and Sabine Sherrill Director of the Center for Excellence in Manufacturing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Inflation and labor shortages are likely motivating manufacturers to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies to improve their productivity and efficiency, Frohlich said.

The report also shows what types of technology companies are implementing, and which they’ve found useful—or not.

“We can really start to see what companies are leaning into,” said Ryan Henderson, director of innovation and digital transformation at Conexus.

Among respondents that have implemented at least one Industry 4.0 technology, the most popular technology was 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing. 34% of respondents said they had tried the technology and found it beneficial, and another 5% said they had tried it but hadn’t found it beneficial.

Other popular technologies among respondents included cybersecurity, visual inspection/machine vision, advanced modeling, sensor technology, big data and analytics, cobots, cloud computing and internet-of-things technology.

Adoption rates remained low for some other types of technology.

Only 2% of respondents, for instance, said they had implemented drones and found them beneficial. Another 2% said they had tried drones but not found them beneficial. Artificial intelligence, augmented or virtual reality, wearable technologies, autonomous vehicles and blockchain technologies also all saw adoption rates in the single digits this year.

The entire report can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “Hoosier manufacturers ramping up adoption of advanced technologies, report shows

  1. If we were to assign a “grade” to Indiana’s manufacturing industry, it seems the data suggests an average “C” would be about right with a shrug for its “meh” response to 4.0 technology. Let’s face it, if you asked anyone which state is on the cutting edge of manufacturing, Indiana would be lucky to be mentioned for a place among the top 15 states. Come to think of it, our farmers are probably more advanced in the embrace and use of high tech to increase efficiency and effectiveness in a more challenging environment.

  2. So many manufacturers are looking for tech to solve all of their issues: productivity, speed, cost-out. Until they solve the labor issue all of those efforts will be sub-optimized, costly, and inflexible.