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Digital Building Blocks for Operational Efficiency

Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Management, Production Management
January 16, 2024

As Industry 4.0 continues to shape industries across the globe, one of the most significant beneficiaries of the power of these technologies is operational efficiency within manufacturing.

This is particularly true with the rise of the role of robots in manufacturing industries and the supply chain.

As Industry 4.0 technologies continue to advance, the role of robots in automation will continue to grow to drive unheard-of gains in efficiency and productivity. Here is a quick look at the current state of Industry 4.0 and how it will continue to impact the role of robots in manufacturing industries.

The Year Ahead and Industry 4.0

2024 and beyond will see continued growth of Industry 4.0 technology across many areas. As the power of digital building blocks continues to reveal itself, many technological advances will impact manufacturing individually or in combination.

Here are a few areas where growth will significantly benefit manufacturing.

  1. Energy Consumption – As the world shifts to more renewable energy, not only are OEMs designing machines that are more energy efficient but there are also advanced platforms that can help manage and control its use for greater efficiency.
  2. 5G Use – As more advanced sensors and systems drive IIoT applications and expand their capabilities, 5G promises to deliver faster speed with extremely low latency and fewer bandwidth bottlenecks to handle an overwhelming deluge of additional data.
  3. Adaptive AI – As the productive power of advanced robotics takes hold, adaptive AI will further increase capabilities with AI that can revise its own code and adapt more quickly to high-speed automation.
  4. Smart Manufacturing – Smart manufacturing as a digital building block allows even more automation across the factory floor. Systems will continue to innovate and increase their capabilities to handle the desire to automate and digitize production fully.

All these areas depend upon real-time visibility across the enterprise. With data and analytics reflecting what is happening now, companies can realize near-perfect quality.

This visibility also drives efficiency to new heights and provides managers with predictable, reliable processes that empower better decision-making and greater agility.

Robotics Within Manufacturing

In just the US, automation robotics are expected to grow annually by 5.67% through 2027. A combination of advances discussed above will drive significant leaps in efficiency across factories.

As smart manufacturing and adaptive AI utilize faster 5G speeds, autonomous robots will make setups and changeovers faster, deliver higher quality at faster speeds, and help alleviate manual labor shortages that continue to hound industries.

This new reality will begin entering the education system to train new generations of workers to operate, maintain, and innovate to continue the trajectory of productivity. The use of robotics will be extended to areas outside of production equipment and will integrate and reach into inventory picking, setup, maintenance, and others.

Combined with a smart manufacturing platform and a suite of advanced software like Plex, the complete visibility of a smart factory will feed accurate, real-time data to these robots seamlessly for high productivity and unprecedented safety levels.

Robotics Within the Supply Chain

Most envision robotics as a production tool only. But Industry 4.0 advances will allow complex supply chain solutions as well. Using the capabilities of a smart manufacturing platform, advanced systems can monitor processes in manufacturing in real time.

With advanced AI and machine learning algorithms, this real-time monitoring will help identify bottlenecks in the supply chain. This extends to inventory, logistics, and even vendor performance.

Automated supply chain processes will eventually be linked to robotics within the supply chain. For example, using tracking and ID tags, a smart manufacturing platform may be able to communicate with robots at the port during unloading.

Other robotics applications could transmit temperature and conditions for perishable goods, adjust if needed, and link to autonomous vehicles to ensure on-time delivery with advanced routing.

Preparing for the Future of Manufacturing Robotics

The global market for Industry 4.0 technology is expected to more than double by 2028 to $350.9 billion. The resulting technological advances will be applied individually or in combination with a fast-growing robotics industry to continue breathtaking gains in efficiency in both manufacturing and the supply chain.

Digital leaders are already using advanced systems and smart manufacturing to revolutionize their decision-making process. 45% have begun using a collaborative decision-making process that pulls in suppliers and partners to make more informed decisions and more accurate responses to demand.

You can prepare for this with a Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform that will act as a digital building block and provide real-time insights and visibility for your robotics investments to operate at their full potential. Contact us to learn more about our platform and suite of software to keep driving your operational efficiency to new heights.

About the Author

Plex DemandCaster Supply Chain Planning

Since joining forces with Plex, by Rockwell Automation, in 2016, we’ve harnessed the power of its Smart Manufacturing Platform and industry knowledge to offer a digitized supply chain planning product. It seamlessly unites your business from the plant floor to the executive suite. To learn more about how we are bringing the Connected Enterprise to life across industrial enterprises, visit

Plex DemandCaster