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Factory of the Future – Smart Factory Trends for Durable Goods

An industry strategic foresight trends report

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  • Your operation is overly cautious, with a low appetite for transformational disruption in the operations.
  • You are risking being left behind as the rest of the industry progresses in this digital and ESG conscious era.
  • Your operation has difficulty attracting new customer segments and struggles to offer a compelling product in the competitive durable goods manufacturing space.
  • Niche players have made your operation more vigilant; therefore, your objective is to modernize the factory quickly so that customers' satisfaction ratings from site audits will be positive.
  • The effects of the pandemic are still apparent within your operation, most notably dealing with a shortage of labor, acquiring skilled labor, and supply chain disruptions.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Transform your durable goods manufacturing business into a Smart Factory by analyzing the four driving trends that embrace the elements that create a real-time, data-driven decision-making factory that can adapt to shifting market conditions and thereby future-proof the manufacturing operation.

Impact and Result

  • Identify: As a methodology, strategic foresight flows from the identification of signals to clustering the signals together to form trends, and uncovering what is driving the trends to determine which strategic initiatives are most likely to lead to success on an industry level.
  • Prioritize: Further customize the scores to your manufacturing by tailoring the generalized weightings on an organization-specific level and determining the relevancy and timing to your operations. By doing so, your manufacturing can determine which trend and technology to prioritize for your Smart Factory initiative.
  • Align: After establishing what trend and technology to prioritize, establish its benefits that closely align and promote the success of your business’ goals.

Factory of the Future – Smart Factory Trends for Durable Goods Research & Tools

1. Factory of the Future – Smart Factory Trends for Durable Goods Storyboard – This strategic foresight trends report highlights the technologies that are currently trending in the Durable Goods Smart Factory Manufacturing industry.

Learn about the four key trends that will help transform your durable goods manufacturing business technology initiative into a Smart Factory strategy.

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Factory of the Future – Smart Factory Trends for Durable Goods

An Industry Strategic Foresight Trends Report

Become a Smart Factory Analyst Perspective

The post-pandemic manufacturing environment is changing rapidly as companies have realized that employer and customer centricity are vital for success

By leveraging technologies to become a Smart Factory, companies can rapidly capture ROI and increase satisfaction.

Employees become super-skilled members of a cobotic world (human and robotic) where automatic visual recognition, self-healing, autonomous robots and robotic process automation are commonplace.

The new Smart Factory is a holistically connected environment that provides instantaneous and rich decision-making data. Employee and customer demands have changed, and technology is paramount for future success.

Developing a Smart Factory is the key to leadership in the market and defending against the market disruptors.

Every process will be improved across the people, process and technology used in the factory.


Licari and Swanson, 2011. electronicsnotes, 2022., 2019..Harring, 2021.

Smart technology can help companies because it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can be modified to help individual businesses meet their specific needs.
Bill Berutti, CEO of Plex Systems (Harring, 2021)

Kevin Tucker

Kevin Tucker
Principle Research Director
Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Logistics.
Info-Tech Research Group

Smart Factory:
Success requires a flexible staffing model

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still apparent, with manufacturing dealing with several key challenges:

  1. Labor – Retaining skilled labor, attracting replacement staff and uplifting skillsets for running existing, or implementing new technologies, has become highly problematic.
  2. Materials – Supply chain disruptions are a global problem that has disrupted the flow of goods, increased shipping costs, and elevated commodity prices, forcing some companies to stop operating.
  3. Part and Process Complexity – The more complex the part, the more expensive the labor costs for those that are unable to leverage technology for automation or cannot get the skilled staff to oversee the operations.
  4. Tooling, Fixtures and QA – Purchasing and building tooling has become more costly, while quality tools are more sophisticated (needing highly skilled technicians) and requiring more upfront cost for installation and setups.
  5. Customer/Staff Expectation Changes – Higher customer- and employee-centricity, where consistent information and services are expected across all channels.
  6. Accuracy and Precision – Accurate setup for good parts and precision of batches require data and analytics for monitoring and self-healing.
  7. Data and Connectivity – Security, proprietary equipment, and fragmented standards are all obstacles the smart factory must overcome.

Sources: Williams, 2022. U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, 2020. Columbus, 2019.


Smart Factory:
Get to Level 5 for Smart Factory Success


Primarily Manual

The Business utilizes paper-based and manual business processes.


Partially Automated

Some automation and data capture has been implemented.



Data captured at every application and almost no manual processes.


Automated & Connected

Automated and connected into a data lake for live data-driven decision-making capabilities.


Smart Factory

Fully automated and connected with AI, RPA and ML for machine-intelligent decisions and self-healing.


Smart City

Smart Economy

Smart Factory:
Level 5 and Beyond

The Smart Factory opens a host of opportunities for Intelligent business:

Companies that have made the journey to the Smart Factory have reached into the center of the earth's core.

Why do we say this? For a manufacturing business, the core of the business is the production operation. It determines when, how much, and at what cost your products can be produced.

If the business achieves Level 5 Smart Factory capability, there suddenly becomes a wide range of services available for the company to track, trace and measure.

Smart Factory

Smart Mobile

Smart Grids

Smart Networks

Smart Services

Smart Vehicles

Smart Meters

Smart Buildings

Smart Cities

Smart Logistics

Smart Platforms

Smart Factory:
The CIO must consider new demands.

Change now or be left behind by the Competition.

Benefits of creating a Smart Factory:

  • S Self-Optimizing Production Operations
  • M Maintained by Predictive Intelligence Processes
  • A Artificial and Augmented Intelligent Interactions
  • R Realtime Data and Waste Reduction
  • T Technology-based Live Digital Network

Sources: Bossard, 2022. Deloitte, 2022. Capgemini, 2019.

Smart Self-Optimizing Factory

  • Mobility
  • Global Talent
  • Cloud & Sensing
  • Predictive Intelligence
  • Rapid & Reliable Supply
  • Clean
  • Cobotic Labor
  • AI / ML Intelligence

Who’s investing in Smart Factory?


Manufacturers are undergoing Smart Factory Initiatives.


Transformed into Smart Factory operations in the past two years.


Plan to be converted into Smart Factories within the next four years.

Smart Factory:
Think end-to-end to become a Smart Factory

The tools, the skills and the processes are all vital considerations toward building new capabilities

Making Smart a Core Capability

  1. Realtime Tracking and Monitoring
    • Inputs
    • Outputs
    • Contents
    • Environmental Impact
  2. Automated calibration and tolerance tracking
  3. Self-configuring robotics
  4. Augmented Intelligence tied into the private cloud
  5. Digital twinning of the planning, simulation and design processes
  6. Tracking of assets and movements of both people and autonomous vehicles

“Connectivity requirements in a factory are very dependent on the use case and

application, and so the network also needs to support service differentiation.”
Sebastian Elmgren,
Portfolio Manager Smart Manufacturing,
Advanced Industries, Ericsson

By connecting our high-precision screwdrivers, we will see a 50% return on investment in year one. And, breakeven is reached in less than 2 years,
Tomas Qvist, President,
Nanjing Ericsson Panda Communication

(GSMA, 2018)

Smart Factory:
Making Labor a Priority

Having the correctly skilled labor to do the job

The competition for skilled labor has never been higher

Becoming a Smart Factory can reduce the labor burden by reducing the number of lower skilled labor levels and increasing the super-skilled labor levels of the company.

The labor market continues to be strained by "the great resignation" and the fact that the workforce shortages are expected to continue. There are some decisive actions that companies can take to combat the talent shortages:

Develop a continuous learning model.

Enable Smart Factory automation.

Hire and train a more diverse workforce.

Partner with local communities for recruitment.

Broaden the network to become more globally engaged for talent.

Become more creative at enabling virtual job options.

Sources: PrNewsWire, 2021. Nam.Org,2020. VettaFi, 2021. Food Logistics, 2021.

US Manufacturing Skills Gap Could Leave As Many As 2.1 Million Jobs Unfilled By 2030
Deloitte and
The Manufacturing Institute.
May 2021

Finding the right talent is 36% more challenging than it was back in 2018 even though more employees are looking for jobs.
May 2021

Smart Factory:
Labor challenges persist in European factories

The Labor concerns are less evident than the US, but still a factor

"The US relied on unemployment insurance and having people leave their original job during COVID, so there was perhaps much more turnover”

“ … Whereas in countries like Germany during COVID, people stayed in their job and the government subsidized the payroll of employers. So, in the US, you might have seen much more turnover and much more reorganization experimentation — which might explain why quits are now high in the US.“
Benjamin Schoefer,
UC Berkeley, Feb 2022

"The European Union is seeing its economic emergence from the unprecedented COVID-19 slowdown hampered by coronavirus-induced staff shortages, supply bottlenecks, runaway energy prices and subsequent inflation surges.”
Associated Press,
Feb 2022

Sources: Horowitz, 2021. Colijn and Brzeski, 2021. Kaplan, 2022. Axioglou and Wozniak, 2022.

Smart Factory:
The US has been hit hard by labor challenges

"Given the foundational role the manufacturing sector plays in our nation's economy, it is deeply concerning that at a time when jobs are in such high demand nationwide, the number of vacant entry-level manufacturing positions continues to grow. Attracting and retaining diverse talent presents both a challenge and solution to bridging the talent gap. To attract a new generation of workers, the industry should work together to change the perception of work in manufacturing and expand and diversify its talent pipeline."
Paul Wellener,
Vice Chairman and U.S. industrial products and construction leader, Deloitte LLP

"Manufacturers are proud to lead efforts to build stronger, more diverse and inclusive workplaces because we are committed to being the solution. These findings confirm the urgency of our mission and that we need not only to continue our work but to accelerate it. As we expand our programs at The Manufacturing Institute, and work with the National Association of Manufacturers on initiatives like our Creators Wanted campaign and tour, we're making sure that Americans of all backgrounds in all states can find a home in manufacturing and get equipped with the skills to seize these opportunities. With so many open jobs in manufacturing, we are uniquely positioned to welcome emerging and displaced workers into rewarding and meaningful careers."
Carolyn Lee,
Executive Director, The Manufacturing Institute

Source: Deloitte (prnewswire), 2021.

Smart Factory:
Market leaders are accelerating Smart Factory growth

Now is the time for smart technology adoption

This image contains a list of market leaders for a smart factory supplier.

Smart Factory:


According to our Durable Goods Manufacturing’s 2021 Benchmarking report, strategy is lagging behind other segments, and a lot of focus is still centered around large legacy applications. This problem is magnified by the onset of staffing and retention issues, which are difficult to resolve for Smart Factories. IT can only maintain relevance if it becomes a trusted operator. By leveraging new technology such as Industry 4.0, the IT organization must shift its weight to heavily focus on strategy and applications. The biggest challenge for IT is to get the skilled staffing for the move to the new ecosystem; however, those that achieve it will establish credibility with business stakeholders as transformational innovators.

This image contains a screenshot summarizing the Durable Goods Manufacturing’s 2021 Benchmarking report

Smart Factory:
Obstacles to a Smart Factory technology initiative:

“I would say the lack of skilled resources is one of the biggest pain points that we encounter.”
Chander Damodaran,
Chief Architect, Digital at Brillio Consulting,
referring to IoT projects at large (IOT World Today)

On one hand there is a compelling case for developing a Smart Factory environment and thereby reducing the requirement for human labor. On the other hand, companies don’t want to endure upfront costs, and they fear employee losses.

  • IoT has become central to the success of factories, as COVID-19 forced them to operate with new and essential automated methods.
  • The proprietary nature of many manufacturing technologies has slowed progress due to the high cost of integration.
  • Budgets are strained and high-level skills are difficult to find and keep.

Moving to Smart Factory is a challenge for many that are lagging behind the market. However, if they don’t elevate their capabilities, they will very likely become disrupted from the market.

Sources: Intech Open and The World Bank, 2019.

Break through the old mindset of thinking that doing more with less is sustainable.

In the modern era you will be left behind.

“As we look across the industrial sector, people are trying to run factories and supply chains with ever-leaner levels of staffing,”
Grant Erickson,
President of Thread Group.

Smart Factory:
The obstacles of a Smart Factory initiative: Persuasion

“ ‘If-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it’ idiom.

Smaller industrial companies find it very hard to justify replacements when the existing machine works perfectly.”
James Blackman,
Enterprise IoT Insights

In the United States alone, 86 percent of manufacturers believe that smart factories will be the main driver of competition by 2025.
Deloitte, 2020

Sources: Blackman, 2018. Phuyal, Bista and Bista, 2020.
Deloitte, 2022. Deloitte, 2020.

“Rising confidence in the industrial sector’s appetite for enterprise IoT solutions, including those based on emerging wireless technologies, encouraged Ericsson in June to double its forecast for low-power wide-area (LPWA) cellular connections to 3.5 billion by 2023.”
James Blackman, Enterprise IoT Insights

Evolving into a Smart Factory environment isn’t without its detractors and complications from interoperability, connectivity, financing, skills, fragmentation, safety, language, ROI, and security integration.

  • The key benefit of Smart Factory or Intelligent Manufacturing is the holistic connectivity of the factory and the ability for staff to make real-time data-driven decisions.
  • By implementing IoT and capturing data into a central processing system (hub), the organization can leverage the data to optimize all business processes.
  • Although there is a lack of standards; companies that achieve Smart Factory capability open the doors to live tracking, live feeds, and market data beyond the factory.

Cloud computing and the Edge have opened endless possibilities for sharing, monetizing and making real-time decisions with data that offers opportunities for rapid and sustainable ROI.

Smart Factory:
Transforming from Manual to Smart

Smart Factory uses automation to streamline and increase profitability:

Manual Processes that need to be replaced:

  • Printed work orders and paperwork.
  • White boards.
  • Manual loading, setting up, and unloading of parts.
  • Manual operation of quality tools, jigs, and fixtures.
  • Supervisors with clip boards walking around the factory.
  • Manual recording of products and quantities.
  • Lifting and moving of products by pump trucks and manual carts.
  • Manual start and stop of the lines by operators.
  • Finding problems after the work center has completed its processes.
  • Manual tracking and recording of stage gates.
  • Reports produced from data captured and entered after the fabrication process is completed.
  • Use of larger aisles and racks enabling more room for people to work.

Exemplar Smart solutions that transform the Factory:

  • All workorders, schedules, and whiteboards are automated.
  • Electric forklifts and autonomous machines move, pack, wrap, transport, put-away, and pack the products.
  • Cobotic setups, self-stopping, self-healing systems for product production.
  • Computer-based validation systems.
  • Holistically live connect with IoT and IIoT.
This image depicts a process from Smart Factory - Automated; Robotics AI, ML; and Connected Processes - Live Dashboards; Dynamic Adaptability

Smart Factory:
Business Perspective

As manufacturers embark upon the path to Smart Factory, they must consider how the new technological innovations will impact their staff and customers.

Benefits for Management

  • Higher data quality.
  • Improved product quality.
  • Greater customer satisfaction.
  • Everything becomes measurable.
  • Lower total cost of ownership.

Potential Staff Takeaways

  • Process simplification.
  • Removal of error prone processes.
  • Higher employee confidence, skills, engagement, and eventually satisfaction.

Potential Customer Takeaways

  • Seamless customer experience through electronic omnichannel.
  • Expanded value for (B2B) and (B2C) customers through real-time status.
  • Meeting and exceeding expectations of the customer value chain.
  • Enhanced levels of trust through all business interactions.
  • Quote and pricing accuracy.

Smart Factory:
Build IT Integration for Connectivity and Value

  • Interconnectivity is the secret sauce that enables the factory to transform itself from an operational factory to a high-performance Smart Factory.
  • Integration enables the business to leverage current solutions such as AI, IIoT, and Big Data, and it lays the foundation for adoption of emerging technologies such as the metaverse.
  • The Durable Goods Manufacturing Industry’s benchmarking data illustrates the lack of focus on strategy that is vital for businesses to become a Smart Factory.
  • The move up the maturity ladder requires planning, executive buy-in, and budget support.
  • Application focus must be toward new applications vs legacy applications that cannot leverage modern solutions such as Cloud and black box IIoT.

“Change is no longer optional:
If you don't keep up with the times the world will leave you behind and your outdated skills will cause the market to abandon your products and company.“
Kevin Tucker,
Principle Research Director, ITRG

Leverage Info-Tech Integration Resources

Build an Application Integration Strategy

Build a Data Integration Strategy

Build an Effective Enterprise Integration on the Back of Business Process

Smart Factory:
Foundational IT Elements

What does the business need from IT for the Smart Factory digital transformation to succeed?

Capturing live data combined with artificial intelligence for live data-driven decisions across the factory:

This image contains a screenshot listing what the business need from it for the smart factory transformation needs.  The inputs are: (SOURCES) END POINTS, DEVICES, APPLICATIONS; IOT, IIOT, DIRECT FEED;.  The Hub is ANALYTICS PROCESSING, AI, & ML.

Sources: Herold, 2017.

Smart Factory:
Four enabling trends that will drive your success

Elastic Talent Platform

It’s no longer enough to have and retain talent. Transitioning and sustaining a Smart Factory environment must include a sophisticated talent strategy.

Cybernated Supply Chain

Whether operating domestically or locally, manufacturers must implement tools and partnerships with global supply chain partners and use demand planning to meet on-time-in-full (OTIF) KPIs.

Predictive Reality

Downtime is extremely expensive. If manufacturers’ production systems are down and cannot be serviced remotely, the cost escalates dramatically. Move from reactive to proactive self-correcting.

Contextual Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, autonomous robotics, and energy management systems will become the new normal. All processes will be adapting live.

Smart Factory:
Technologies that enable the Trends

The Smart Factory leverages the Industry 4.0 product set to create holistic automation, connectivity, and collaboration









  • A Smart Factory cannot be created without this set of products in place because it must be holistically connected and secure.








  • These products enable labor reduction and higher-level capabilities such as self-healing and predictive maintenance.

Sources: McLaughlin, 2022. Herold, 2017.

Smart Factory Model:
Trends in Action

This image contains a screenshot of the Smart Factory Model

Understand the priorities of each stakeholder to gain support

Encompass the business, operational, and technical feasibility and impact into your rationale

Factory Leadership

Focus on understanding the operational implications of the technology that will be utilized to streamline and automate processes to improve employee and customer centricity.

Head of Engineering and Procurement

Integrate across departmental functions for demand planning, engineering design/changes. Eliminate pain points and touch points.

IT Leadership and Team

Work closely with an IT/OT convergence focus to iteratively identify requirements and remove roadblocks for successful deployment of new and innovative solutions sets.

Human Resources

Staffing is a critical element for Smart Factory success, and HR must be fully engaged from the onset for communications and collaboration. Skillset scarcity requires a global perspective.

Who will be impacted?

Where you should gain support for a solution, and how it impacts the stakeholder

Senior Leader Team

Funding, Business Growth, Corp Communications, & Governance

Factory Leadership

Customer Value, ROI, Cost Savings, Labor & Productivity

Engineering Leadership

Integration, Design, Changes, Setups & Systems

Procurement Leadership

Raw Materials, Supply Partners, & Supply Chain Best Practices

Human Resources

Labor Wellness, Skills Development & Employee Centricity

IT Leadership and Team

Collaboration, Program Skills, Tech Leadership, SME & Integration.

Use Info-Tech’s methodology to identify, prioritize and gain support for your Smart Factory initiative.

Identify: Trends Report Analysis

As a methodology, strategic foresight flows from the identification of signals to clustering the signals together to form trends and uncovering what is driving the trends to determine which strategic initiatives are most likely to lead to success on an industry-level.

Prioritize: Technology Shortlisting

Further customize the scores to your business by tailoring the generalized weightings on an organization-specific level and determining the relevancy and timing to your hotel. By doing so, your hotel can determine which trend and technology to prioritize for your reshaping-the-ecosystem initiative.

Persuade: Minimum Viable Business Case

After establishing what trend and technology to prioritize, develop a minimum viable business case with the help of the trend report elements, to make the case for stakeholders.

Smart Factory: INFO-TECH PULSE
Criteria & Weighting Factors

#1 Futureproof your design

Adaptive Network Modelling: The development of a sound data strategy is central to the factory being able to make smart decisions. Even if the data strategy is outstanding it won’t deliver a Smart Factory because the more critical aspect is the sensing network. Data must be captured in real-time from every plausible device or application that can capture information. The system must be adaptive in nature so that it's not too chatty and thereby plugging the network pipe unnecessarily.

Functionality. This model is built on a platform of technologies that are not just automation. The key strength is the employee centricity and the customer centricity. Use simple interfaces that are holistically integrated, and live information for customers. Interoperability is the critical priority.

#2 Data Strategy

The key to leveraging technology is not the implementation, but rather your strategic use of the Data. Whether the data is structured or unstructured, it is important that there is an effective data model which determines when and how the data will be utilized.

#3 IT/OT Convergence

The IT and OT teams will want to have as much open communication as possible. Collaborative communications are the secret sauce for Smart Factory success. By collaborating across functional silos there is an assurance that they will avoid the pitfalls associated with broken telephone. There are other departments that play a role in the development of a Smart Factory; however, the most critical players are IT and OT.

Leverage Info-Tech Integration Resources
Preparing for Technology Convergence in Manufacturing

Smart Factory: INFO-TECH PULSE
Criteria & Weighting Factors

Our Info-Tech Pulse scores can help manufacturers evaluate the trends against their priorities. The higher the pulse out of 100, the more available, applicable, and impactful it is to the industry. Info-Tech Pulse scores represent each trend’s weighted impact across two sets of criteria:

1. Trends Radar Criteria

Business Growth

Growth and market reach are an outcome of doing everything else well.

Risk and Resilience

An ability to rapidly adapt to changes in the ecosystem while protecting business and customers’ data.

Operational Excellence

Creates a foundation of reliability and transparency that builds confidence across the channels.

Customer Value

Customers feel that the business is a truly trusted partner and that creates stickiness.

Market Advantage

Companies that hire great talent and leverage technology are normally front runners.

Continuous Innovation

Creates disruption and avoids the potential of being disrupted by being first to market.

2. Business Capability Map Criteria

Competitive Advantage

Capabilities will deliver advantage for the business and customers.

Cost Advantage

Delivering revenue opportunities or cost reductions through elevated operational capabilities.

Criteria Weighting

This image contains a screenshot of a Donut chart. On the chart are the following datapoints: Business Growth - 15%.  Innovation - 15%; Operational Excellence - 17%; Sustainability - 20%; Customer Value - 20%; Risk and Resilience - 15%. Below the donut chart is the following information:  Business Capability map: Competitive Advantage - 65%; Cost Advantage 35%

Smart Factory:
Developing the Trends Radar

Develop a cross-industry holistic view of trends

Moving from horizon scanning to action requires an evaluation process to determine which trends can lead to growth opportunities. Before implementing trend technologies, it is necessary to have a holistic understanding of how they will impact manufacturers on an industry-specific level.

Info-Tech evaluated the trend opportunities through a set of business drivers:

  • Business Growth
  • Customer Value
  • Risk & Resilience
  • Market Advantage
  • Operational Excellence
  • Continuous Innovation

Once an organization has identified a trend that warrants exploration, it is valuable to understand the underlying forces that are driving the trend in order to assess its potential impact. Drivers are a fundamental component to building plausible scenarios that could arise from the adoption of a given trend. These value drivers are used to understand what is or is not driving a particular trend. This is achieved by identifying the value drivers for each trend as superior, strong, medium, or weak:

  1. Weak
  2. Medium
  3. Strong
  4. Superior

Smart Factory: Value Drivers

Business Growth

  • Drives sustainable growth.
  • Diversifies methods of generating revenue.
  • Increases the business market reach.

Market Advantage

  • New and unique market opportunities.
  • Customer-centricity.
  • Eyes on market opportunity scanning.

Operational Excellence

  • Consistently on-time results.
  • High quality solutions.
  • Top performing team atmosphere.
  • Automated processes.

Continuous Innovation

  • Game-changing products.
  • First mover advantage.
  • Dynamic adaptability.
  • Disruption avoidance.

Customer Value

  • Builds trust in people, product & processes.
  • Provides competitive leadership.
  • Dominant pricing & quality.
  • Develops tight collaborative relationships.

Risk & Resilience

  • Adaptable to change.
  • Strong brand resilience.
  • Seamless integration and disaster recovery capability.

How do the Smart Factory trends measure up against the business value drivers?

Smart Factory: Value Drivers

Elastic Talent Platform Cybernated Supply Chain Predictive Reality Contextual Intelligence
4 3 3 4
3 4 3 4
4 4 4 4
3 3 3 4
4 4 4 3
3 3 3 3
2 1 2 3
3 2 2 2
  1. Weak
  2. Medium
  3. Strong
  4. Superior

Smart Factory: Analyze the Business Capability Impact

Develop a cross-industry holistic view of trends

Moving from horizon scanning to action requires determining which trends can lead to favorable business opportunities. Before implementing trend technologies, the business must evaluate how they will impact manufacturing from an industry-specific lens.

Info-Tech evaluated the trend opportunities through an additional set of advantage creating criteria:

  • Competitive Advantage Creators
    • Capabilities that will deliver differentiated business and customer experiences.
  • Cost Advantage Creators
    • Capabilities that will generate revenue or reduce costs.

These advantage creators are used to understand how impactful a trend is for business alignment and whether IT should be making investments to help the business enhance its capabilities through the implementation of new technology(s). This is achieved by identifying the number of competitive and cost advantage creators for each trend in the durable goods manufacturing capability map.

Smart Factory:
The Business Capability Map

  • A business capability defines what a business does to enable value creation.
  • A business capability map demonstrates a primary view of all these capabilities and provides details to a specific area of the business for further assessment.
  • The durable goods manufacturing industry reference architecture shown here demonstrates the business capabilities impacted by all four trends on the competitive and cost advantage scale.

Leverage Info-Tech Resources

Demonstrate the value of IT’s role in supporting your manufacturing capabilities, and priorities.

Durable Goods Industry Reference Architecture

This image contains a screenshot of a business capability map

Findings: Business Capabilities that are impacted by ALL trends

How does each trend measure against the business capability map?


Competitive Advantage

Cost Advantage

Total Capabilities Affected



Elastic Talent Platform



Cybernated Supply Chain



Predictive Reality



Contextual Intelligence



Illustrates the count of the capabilities impacted by the competitive and cost advantage criteria.

Business Capability Map

Elastic Talent PlatformCybernate Supply ChainPredictive RealityContextual Intelligence

Competitive Advantage




  1. Weak
  2. Medium
  3. Strong
  4. Superior

Represents the output of the Harvey balls computed from the results of the above table by dividing the trend’s advantage score and total capabilities impacted.

Smart Factory:
Overarching Risks for Security & Infrastructure

Trends in the industry are changing how manufacturers must develop or prepare their current IT infrastructures to make way for technological improvement.

The implementation of reshaping-the-ecosystem technologies will increase the importance of network and security services to the business and, depending on IT’s maturity, could positively or negatively affect business stakeholders and customer satisfaction.

The rule of thumb is to assess your IT risks before implementing a new system. Consider analyzing your security and infrastructure maturity, and any other functions that will affect the success of your technology.

Percentage of manufacturing CIOs that experienced an increase in cyber incidents

Percentage of manufacturing using cloud (new cloud services are as hard as the first)

Leverage Info-Tech Resources

Determine your business stakeholder satisfaction
CIO Business Vision Diagnostic
IT Management & Governance

This image contains a screenshot of a table summarizing the overarching risks for security infrastructure. The following services are included: Security Strategy; Security Management; Data & BI; Business Process; Controls and Audit; External Compliance; Risk Management; Business Continuity; Disaster Recovery Planning; Enterprise Architecture; Requirements Gathering; Quality Management; Innovation; Strategy & Governance

Data Extract:: Info-Tech’s Durable Goods Manufacturing IT Staffing Benchmarking Report illustrates the current importance and satisfaction metrics for security and infrastructure functions according to business stakeholders.

Smart Factory:
Overarching Risks for Viability and IT Maturity

Viability for the Smart Factory trends and technologies are highly dependent on your manufacturing business model and the architectural integrity of the building.

  • Manufacturing Business Model. A manufacturing business model may not gain maximum value if there are elements that dramatically limit the manufacturing plant. For example, manufacturing plants filled with legacy tools and applications will easily implement new technology solutions without undergoing comprehensive review, planning, and training.
  • Architectural Integrity. When dealing with an existing building that must be retrofitted, architectural integrity can be a risk. An organization that lacks technological maturity will encounter challenges which it may not be able to handle. For example, if your business wants to include robotics without analyzing and possibly replacing existing connectivity and staff, then it’s very likely to run into costly problems.

Your organization must understand it’s maturity and build in contingency plans for the possible uncertainties which could create implementation risks.

Consider the Durable Goods Manufacturing IT Management & Governance Benchmarking Framework that highlights where there must be a concerted focus for this initiative:

  • Performance Measurement: Understand the staffing and how to measure effectiveness.
  • Organizational Change Management. Ability to implement and optimize new capabilities.
  • Innovation. Successfully identify and validate appropriate new solutions.
  • Vendor Management. Ability to get maximum effectiveness from all vendors at the best possible cost.

This image contains a screenshot of a table modeled after the periodic table of elements, which depicts the overarching risks for viability and it maturity, ranking them by the level of action needed for each one.  The following risks are marked with a red star, indicating that they are the most critical for smart factory success.  Performance Measurement; Innovation; Vendor Management; Organizational Change Management.

Data Extract: Info-Tech’s Durable Goods Manufacturing IT Management & Governance Benchmarking Report illustrates the importance and effectiveness metrics for core IT processes.

Smart Factory:
How to read this trend report

Description Each trend is introduced with a description and statistics, highlighting its growth and impact.
Technology Signals A signal of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) indicates a divergence from the status quo.
Manufacturing Value Drivers An analysis of the 360-degree view of value drivers that will be impacted – both positively and negatively – upon the implementation of this trend.
Business Capability Map An analysis of the 360-degree view of the business capabilities that will be positively impacted based on cost advantage and competitive advantage weightings upon the implementation of this trend.
Benefits A summary of benefits that could be achieved from a business and human perspective through the successful adoption of these technologies.
Risks A summary of risks and critical unknowns that could be realized from a business and human perspective through the adoption of these technologies.
ROI Metrics Calculated methods to measure benefits realized for the costs incurred for each respective technology.
Case Study A real-life illustrative example demonstrating manufacturing implementation and usage of each trend.
Member Resources and Recommendations Info-Tech’s recommendation on how to move forward when embracing these trends, and a list of material that will assist your organization with understanding and adopting these technologies.

Smart Factory:
ROI Metric Overview

The report provides ways to measure the return on interest for each trend with a focus on detailed measurement methods

Every project must consider how it will deliver value to the organization. The following are key considerations as methods to ensure appropriate value


ROI Metric Definition

ROI Measurement/Method to Calculate

Cost Reduction or Avoidance

Labor Cost Reduction

Service Cost Reduction

Contract Reduction

Machine Cost and Amortization Period (TCO reduction)

Numbers of Workers on the Machine (# reduction, reallocation)

Number of Shifts and Hourly Rate ($ reduction)

Increased Revenue

New eCommerce Offerings

Increased Sales

New Platform or Services (Net new $)

Uptime Increase Against (avg $, % increase)

Increased Productivity

Throughput Rates

On Time in Full Delivery Improvement

Dashboard KPI improvement (%)

Delivery to Stock or End Customer (units and %)

Increased Uptime

KPI for Downtime

Measure of Scheduled Downtime (% change)

Measure of Unscheduled Downtime (% change)

Measure of Overall Uptime (% increase)

Increased Satisfaction

Tool Satisfaction

Product Satisfaction

Service Satisfaction

Employee Satisfaction (new equipment)

Customer Satisfaction Surveys (% improvement)

Management (% improvement)

* other methods such as Net Present Value, Internal Rate of Return, Payback Period and formulaic ROI may be provided by some suppliers.

Sources: Clemons, 2021. Josefsson, 2020. Clemons, #2, 2021. Shetty, 2021. Worximity, 2022.


Axioglou, Christos and Przemyslaw Wozniak. The impact of shortages on manufacturing in the EU: Evidence from the Business and Consumer Surveys. 18 Jan 2022. Mar 2022.

Blackman, James. Six challenges for smart manufacturing and industrial IoT. 13 Aug 2018. Mar 2022.

BOSSARD. 5 Immediate Benefits of Implementing Smart Factory Logistics. 2022. Mar 2022.

Buntz, Brian. Prioritization of IoT a Conundrum for Digital Manufacturing Technologies. 4 Aug 2020. Mar 2020.

Capgemini. "Capgmenini Research Institute." Nov 2019. Smart Factories @ Scale. Mar 2022.

Clemons, John. How to find the ROI in smart manufacturing. 21 Sep 2021. Mar 2022.

Colijn, Bert and Carsten Brzeski. Eurozone labour shortages not as clear cut as you might think. 13 Dec 2021. Mar 2022.

Columbus, Louis. The 10 Most Valuable Metrics In Smart Manufacturing. 20 Nov 2019. Mar 2022.

Deloitte. Benefits of smart factories - Investing in smart factory systems to build value. 2022. Mar 2022.

Deloitte. "Implementing the smart factory - New perspectives for driving value." 2020. Deloitte. Mar 2022.

Electronicsnotes. Automatic optical inspection, AOI systems. 2022. Mar 2022.

FoodLogistics. "3 Ways Smart Factory Leaders Can Boost Skilled Talent." 2022. FoodLogistics. Mar 2022.

Gordon, Karrie. Smart Factories Could Help Solve Labor Shortages. Vettafi. 27 Oct 2021. Mar 2022.

GSMA. "Industrial Iot Case study: Ericsson Smart Factory." 2018. GSMA. Mar 2022.

Harring, Alex. Report: 80% Say Smart Manufacturing is Key to Future Success. 9 Mar 2021. Mar 2022.

Herold, Julia. Bring 3D models to life in a “digital factory planning process” with Siemens software. 2 Jun 2017. Mar 2022.

Horowitz, Julia. Millions of jobs and a shortage of applicants. Welcome to the new economy. 29 Jun 2021. Mar 2022.

Josefsson, Erik. How to improve ROI for Industry 4.0 use cases. 7 Jul 2020. Mar 2022.

Kaplan, Juliana. Europe doesn't have a labor shortage like the US. It's all about the different ways governments paid people not to work. 4 Feb 2022. Mar 2022.

KPMG. 2020 CIO Survey. 2020. Website. Dec 2021.

Licari, James J. and Dale W. Swanson. Surface Mount Technology. 2011. Mar 2022.

McLaughlin, Shane. The Essential Steps in Your Smart Factory Evolution. 2022. Mar 2022. Automated Optical Inspection of Automotive Components. 17 Mar 2019. Mar 2022.


Phuyal, Sudip, Diwakar Bista and Rabindra Bista. Challenges, Opportunities and Future Directions of Smart Manufacturing: A State of Art Review. 2020. Mar 2022.

PR Newswire. US Manufacturing Skills Gap Could Leave As Many As 2.1 Million Jobs Unfilled By 2030, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Study Finds. 4 May 2021. Mar 2022.

Shetty, Prabhakar. Unlocking smart manufacturing ROI. 8 Sep 2021. Mar 2022.

Smart Manufacturing 2.0 series - Implementing the smart factory - New perspectives for driving value. 2022. Mar 2022.

Smart manufacturing model production lifecycle benefits. 20 Jun 2021. Mar 2022.

Suvarna, Manu, et al. Smart Manufacturing for Smart Cities—Overview, Insights, and Future Directions. 8 Jul 2020. Mar 2022.

U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. Ability to work from home: evidence from two surveys and implications for the labor market in the COVID-19 pandemic. Jun 2020. Mar 2022.

Wagner, I. Smart factories - Statistics & Facts. 19 Dec 2018. Mar 2022.

Williams, Chris. 6 Factors Affecting Manufacturing Costs. 2022. Mar 2022.

Worximity. Calculate your ROI for each connected machine by filling in the fields of our ROI calculator. 2022. Mar 2022.


Elastic Talent Platform


Flexible Talent Management is Paramount.


The Great Resignation is a threat

The time for stability is now.

The Great Resignation is a global phenomenon that has saddled companies with a dilemma.

The rate of turnover during COVID-19 reached unprecedented levels. Some businesses were forced to release employees, and many companies were offering new opportunities for employees at enhanced pay levels.

Companies need to consider (now, more than ever) how they can motivate employees to stay with the company.

Companies that can’t offer flexible working conditions are at a distinct disadvantage. COVID-19 proved that many employees can be highly productive and happy working remotely.

At the same time, technology evolution has accelerated, and new advanced skillsets are needed for the Smart Factories. Businesses operating independent of time and space are fairing the best.

* Departures per Year ÷ Average Total Number of Employees = Turnover Rate *

Source: Carmichael Fisher, 2021. McLean & Company, 2021. Cook, 2021. Chugh, 2021.

2018 - 2028







“This is a sector that, more often than not, provides career opportunities on a global scale. It is one that is leading the charge for safer, cleaner environments that are sustainable. And it is contrary to perception, one of the most technically-advanced sectors of any economy.”
Stephen Shaw,
Partner, Carmichael Fisher


Elastic talent platforms improve retention

Thinking outside the box for hiring, retention, upskilling, and right-skilling

An elastic talent platform is a set of tools and approaches that enable companies to proactively hire, retain, and develop their talent.

At the center of your employee talent solution should be a human capital management (HCM) solution: a set of tools, processes, best practices, and methods for the recruitment, hiring, developing and retaining employees.

The term “human capital” identifies your staff as assets to be nurtured and invested in. Within the system there are management systems and information systems processes that are used to centralize and manage the employee lifecycle.

The elastic talent platform goes beyond your internal HCM solution that is utilized to recruit and retain employees.

The platform is a set of tools and partnerships which encourage a more holistic hiring and retention strategy that blends the use of on-site, off-site, and academic relationships.

Info-Tech Resources

Software Reviews | Human Capital Management

Putting the Human Back in Human Capital Management

Get the Most Out of Your HRMS

Smart Factory Initiatives Need Talent

Problems filling positions

Serious problems filling positions

Manufacturing employment decreased since 2020

The National Association of Manufacturers raised $14 million from manufacturers to attract more workers into the field.

29% of 13M
Jobs filled by women

April 2020
Lowest manufacturing output in 100 years.

Source: Chester, 2021. United States Department of Labor, 2022. Lytle, 2020.


Love ‘em and keep ‘em

Info-Tech Pulse: 60

Keeping staff and finding replacement staff has never been more difficult than it is today. Manufacturing businesses are impacted by a long-standing perception that it’s a harsh work environment that lags on investment in employees and innovative equipment.

The pandemic has created a period of rapid acceleration of technology, as the leaders separated themselves from the pack. Many businesses, large and small, have become stressed as a result of their legacy operations.

In order to become a Smart Factory, the company must develop new ways of hiring and retaining top talent.

Retention isn’t just focused on permanent staffing. New technologies require an extensive set of high-level skills; companies therefore need to ensure that they develop tight relationships with both permanent and contract employees.

If you don’t love ‘em, then someone else most certainly will.

Source: Dawson, 2021. Molis, 2019. Kaye and Jordan-Evans, 2021.

Talent timeliness is the key to a successful talent platform.

Rapid changes in skills requirements necessitate rapid resolutions.


Technology signals lead to change

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo:



Paper-based Recruitment

Manufacturing businesses spent a lot of time and money on labor, and recruitment is expensive.

Human Capital Systems

Automation of the process of recruiting and onboarding new employees.

Paper-based Employee Development

Companies spent to develop employees with essential skills with outdated methods.

Employee Development Systems & Digital Partnerships

HCM, HRIS, HRMS, systems are used to track, develop and integrate with partners’ solutions.

Paper-based Communication & Collaboration

Workers read message boards and used paper-based processes for business related information.

Digital Signage

The use of live dashboards and interactive mobile solutions such as tablets and AR/VR.

Local Job Agencies

Companies recruited through local agencies within the city and state of their physical locations.

Global Agencies

Companies recruit talent from anywhere in the world, with highly skilled people that share their values.

Students Apply on Websites

What you see is what you get. the product is built, and the functions are simple and obvious.

Internships and Micro-internships

The company develops people, programs, and technologies with local and global institutions.

Source: HeySuccess, 2022. SimplyHired, 2022. Wingard, 2019.


Elastic Talent Platform

Business Growth


Risk and Resilience


Operational Excellence


Customer Value






Source: Parker Dewey, 2022. Polytron, 2017.
NAM, 2021. Uebelhor, 2022.

Business Growth

The primary role of the elastic talent platform is to support businesses with their Smart Factory evolution and super-skills necessary to sustain growth. The elastic talent platform is a model that utilizes a global perspective to ensure that talent levels can flex or contract on demand.

Risk and Resilience

Companies cannot operate without talent, and the difficulties aren’t expected to decrease before 2028. The most important thing that a company can do right now is leverage both technology and partnerships, to ensure a healthy level of risk avoidance and resilience against the great resignation.

Operational Excellence

People are the cornerstone of for success in all the sector-leading companies. In the Smart Factory it is your ability to get the right talent for the job at the right time that will drive rapid success. As technology becomes more sophisticated there is a distinct requirement to have more highly skilled staffing for oversight and engagement with technology.

Customer Value

Companies that can hire and retain talent have a distinct advantage with customers. Customers don't like change, and that includes not wanting to deal with a revolving door of new employees who don’t have a background with the customers.

Market Advantage

The best companies are increasingly those that can hire and retain talent. This isn't necessarily the most highly skilled talent, but the most committed and dedicated people, who develop outstanding customer relationships.

Continuous Innovation

The option of doing what we've always done and remaining competitive simply isn't possible anymore. Employees entering the market have a basic expectation that functions are not conducted manually.


Business Capability Map

This is an image of a business capability map



Adaptability Without Compromising Speed and Quality

All businesses are under strain to deliver higher quality products and do it faster. The manufacturing industry needs increasing levels of talent to support the move to Smart Factory. Being Elastic means having the ability to switch gears when necessary.

Improves Employees Skill and Satisfaction

The biggest hurdle for manufacturers is to change the message to that of an attractive environment for new and seasoned workers to grow. Smart Factory is a compelling story for employees to stay within manufacturing. Although the entry level jobs will become sparser, there will be an elevated number of highly skilled position demands.

Increases Reliability

New technologies are accessible 24/7, and in a Smart Factory they are available anywhere. The staffing model becomes more sophisticated because remote functions become more common and timely in nature.

Reduces Operational and Labor Costs

Moving from a CAPEX model to and OPEX model enables companies to implement sophisticated technologies more quickly and gain payback before the cost starts to eat into profitability. The costs will be offset by the reduction in staff and improved quality.


Risks and Uncertainties

Privacy and security need to be elevated

Smart Factory security is much more broadly impacted than that of a standard factory. With smart devices being implemented there are a variety of proprietary and non-proprietary technologies to contend with. With networked and IoT/IIoT devices being hooked up throughout the business, highly elevated security must be considered.

A transition management strategy is vital for retaining employees

Employees don’t like change, and in manufacturing this creates risk. Also, employees that have never used technology need to learn/adapt, while new/younger employees expect high levels of technology use. It’s important to have a transition management strategy that considers how the culture needs to evolve for acceptance of change.

Technology selection becomes increasingly important

Companies will often encounter problems because they don’t have the skills required for the triage and selection of the technologies necessary for the creation of a Smart Factory. The two common baseline themes are best of breed products and strategic technology partnerships. Both are viable; however, the decision should be made while considering total cost of ownership.

Be prepared to pay more for good talent

There is an initial outlay of cost for technologies. While some roles are in high demand but very low supply, the cost of premiums to contract such roles will be high. We expect that many new specialty skilled positions will be expensive for the next three to five years as education catches up.


Case Study

Deloitte Smart Factory @ Wichita


Most companies are dealing with the strain of hiring and retaining talent for their current operations. At the same time, they are part of the 70% of companies that are undergoing the first steps on their Smart Factory journey that is likely to last several years.

On top of this there is an anticipated wave of retirements as 40% of the workforce leave the market and take their institutional knowledge with them.


Deloitte has been building a demonstration solution facility in Wichita that will help companies understand the implications of Smart Factory. Robotics automation and humans need to work efficiently in close proximity, and the human counterparts must be skilled or re-skilled to work with the equipment.

This solution helps businesses identify the skills needed for their Smart Factory evolution so that they can hire and develop their staff in an effective manner.

Sources: The Smart Factory, 2022. Rae-Dupree.


Competition is intense for the digital skills already in short supply—expertise in data science, robotics and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and augmented reality.
Irene Petrick,
Senior Director of Industrial Innovation,
Intel Internet of Things Group


They have created a partnership with the Wichita State University that is designed build a community.

They have developed a series of models and simulations which enable you to see the impacts of changes to your manufacturing processes, and more importantly, what skills are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes.

STEM education products are powering the future.




Having an elastic talent platform approach has become a critical tool for companies that are transitioning towards Smart Factory. The following will help.

  • Put an employee-centric model in place and market the offering.
  • Pay competitive wages and benefits.
  • Partner with educational institutions.
  • Recruit globally and enable remote work opportunities.
  • Hire for potential, not just talent and skills.
  • Implement HCM tools and fully utilize the offering from onboarding, development, and into alumni status.

Where to Seek Support

  • CIO
  • COO
  • HR
  • Corporate Roles
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Sources: (Wellener), 2021. (NAM News Room), 2021. (Statistica), 2020. (Riipen), 2022
(Cite Seer X), 1998. (AllianceRecruitmentAgency), 2022.

Info-Tech Resources

IT Talent Trends 2022

Recruit IT Talent

Navigate the Pandemic with a Flexible Talent Strategy

Take and Educated approach to Developing an LMS Strategy


AllianceRecruitmentAgency. Artificial Intelligence Staffing - Use Advanced and Transformational Technology to Make Hiring Processes More Effective and Optimized. 2022. Mar 2022.

Carmichael Fisher. Why the future of 'smart factories' depends on their ability to attract the next generation of talent. 2021. Mar 2022.

Chester, Jason. Is digital transformation really the key to solving the talent shortage in manufacturing? 14 Sep 2021. Mar 2022.

Chugh, Abhinav. What is 'The Great Resignation'? An expert explains. 29 Nov 2021. Mar 2022.

Cite Seer X. The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings. 1998. Mar 2022.

Cook, Ian. Who Is Driving the Great Resignation? 15 Sept 2021. Mar 2022.

Dawson, John. 5 Crucial Talent Acquisition Metrics You Should Be Tracking. 31 Mar 2021. Mar 2022.

HeySuccess. Smart Factory Digitalization Project in Manufacturing Environments. 2022.

Info-Tech Research Group. Compare and Evaluate - Human Capital Management - Enterprise. 2022. 2022.

—. Get the Most Out of Your HRMS. 5 Jul 2021. Mar 2022.

—. IT Talent Trends 2022. 14 Mar 2022. 2022 Mar.

—. Navigate the Pandemic With a Flexible Talent Strategy. 20 May 2020. Mar 2022.

—. Putting the Human Back in Human Capital Management. 26 Apr 2019. Mar 2022.

—. Recruit IT Talent. 17 Aug 2019. Mar 2022.

—. Take an Educated Approach to Developing an LMS Strategy. 13 Jan 2016. Mar 2022.

Kaye, Beverly and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Love 'Em or Lose 'Em, Sixth Edition - GETTING GOOD PEOPLE TO STAY. 02 Mar 2021. 2022 Mar.

Lytle, Tamara. Manufacturing's Top Talent Challenges. 1 Aug 2020. Mar 2022.

McLean & Company. Develop an Effective Talent Retention Plan. 2021. Mar 2022.

Molis, Jim. Attracting and retaining top talent: 5 ways to make them come to you. 29 Aug 2019. Mar 2022.

NAM News Room. 2.1 Million Manufacturing Jobs Could Go Unfilled by 2030. 4 May 2021. Mar 2022.

Parker Dewey. Micro-Internships - Experiential recruiting doesn’t have to be complicated. 2022. Mar 2022.

Periyasamy, Revanth. 10 Best Human Capital Management (HCM) Software for 2022. 19 Feb 2022. Mar 2022.

Polytron. Smart Manufacturing Workforce – Do you Already Have the Talent You Will Need? March 2022.

Rae-Dupree, Janet. Wanted: Digital skills for smart factories. 18 Oct 2021. Mar 2022.

Reitsma, Tim. 11 Best HCM Software Vendors Of 2022. 3 Jan 2022. Mar 2022.

Riipen. Integrate Work and Education - Riipen brings real projects from organizations into higher education. 2022. Mar 2022.

SimplyHired. smart manufacturing engineering intern. 2022. Mar 2022.

SoftwareConnect. Human Capital Management (HCM) Software. 2022. Mar 2022.

Statistica. Perceived barriers to the adoption of new technologies in the manufacturing industry worldwide in 2020. 2020. Mar 2022.


United States Department of Labor. Employment Situation Summary. 4 Mar 2022. Mar 2022.

Wellener, Paul. Now Hiring? Reasons for the Workforce Shortage in Manufacturing, and What to Do About Them. 2 Nov 2021. Mar 2022.

Wingard, Jason. Why Micro-Internships Will Be the Next Big Thing. 6 Mar 2019. Mar 2020.


Cybernated Supply Chain

Feel the Automatic Control and Processing difference.

Cybernated Supply Chain

On Time In Full (OTIF) is your #1 Priority

On Time In Full (OTIF) is your #1 Priority

Info-Tech Pulse: 57

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there were some challenges, such as the Hanjin bankruptcy, that caused global shipping problems. Since the start of the pandemic, a myriad of supply chain challenges has gripped the world.

These include:

The global chip shortage, which is likely to continue for several months and maybe even years.

Other commodity shipping challenges due to the lack of resources such as aluminum, wood and other materials.

Bloating of inventory to ensure on-time deliveries, or the lack of inventory due to global shortages and shipping problems.

Ability to get ships, containers, loading and unloading of goods conducted in a timely fashion.

Some businesses don’t have the buying power, and many others are disrupted due to global issues such as weather problems and global unrest.

Sources: AP, 2016. Project44 Crisis Tracker, 2022. Brookings, 2020.

“Shenzhen China implemented a new lockdown in Mar-22 that had an immediate 28.5% increase in waiting vessels at the Yantian Port. ”

– Project44, Crisis Tracker, 2022

Companies are investing in warehouse management software.

Have concern over weak raw material supplies

Stated that their supply chain processes were changed due to COVID-19.

Planning to Invest in omnichannel fulfillment.

“Toyota has been famous for its quality and reliability of vehicles and is used as a model by many schools and businesses. For many years they have used a cord on the line to stop production when an error occurs and only restart production when the problem is corrected.”
- Akio Toyoda, CEO Toyota Motor Company


If we consider the Toyota approach today, then we should be saying that this model is too costly. We should be proactively monitoring production and have the production automatically stop and then re-heal itself.

Source: TrustRadius, 2021. Supply Chain Quotes, 2022.


Technology Signals

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo:



Single Source Supply Chain

Companies rely on a primary source for raw materials.

Global Sourcing Primary and Ancillary Contracts

The supply chain team have primary suppliers and utilize other secondary suppliers to ensure there are alternatives.

Lean Inventory

Minimal inventory and build-to-ship approach for just-in-time delivery.

Strategic Inventory

Demand planning is used to continuously manage buffers, safety stock, and the flow of goods in real-time.

Minimal In-Transit Information

No telematics or in-transit product tracking.

Global Tracking

Utilize RFID to track movements and provide live update of OTD to customers.

Manual Track and Trace Processes.

Primarily papers with minimal mobile tracking.

Automated Pick, Pack and Movements

Mobiles for scanning, drones, and autonomous robotic product processes.

Single Country of Origin Supply Management and Logistics

Many manufacturers use third-party providers within the process, and they will use multiple locations in order to produce a single product.

Global Supply and Logistics

Inventory and distribution are based upon the greatest efficiency and reliability, including alternatives for strategic disaster management.

Modelling, Mapping and Workflows are Manual Drawings

Plant design and layout follow traditional models for the product production and movements.

Visual Planning and Modelling

Digital 3D virtual planning and modelling of people, products, and technology movements.

Source: roambee, 2022. Demand Driven Technologies, 2022. Demand Driven Institute, 2022. DASSAULT SYSTEMES, 2022. World Customs Organization, 2018.


New Supply Chain Model Drivers

Business Growth


Risk and Resilience


Operational Excellence


Customer Value






Business Growth

Having single source relationships is not longer viable. Any business that expects to achieve growth must plan for current and future market shifts of product and transportation. All scheduling and monitoring must be electronic.

Risk and Resilience

COVID-19 demonstrated how being behind the curve cuts into the bottom line. The most sophisticated companies were able to weather the market shifts at a much lower cost from the less sophisticated businesses.

Operational Excellence

The operation can function at a good level, but it cannot achieve excellence without implementing technology. Companies that have poor supply chain technology will spend excessive money for expediting product to customers.

Customer Value

An efficient supply chain offers a distinct competitive advantage for the discriminating customers who are continuously looking for the best products at the best prices.

Market Advantage

Smart Factories can run 24/7 with a lower footprint and higher throughput, thus enabling them to be nimble when markets are constrained and expand quickly to meet new demands. Margins and costs are lower than competitors.

Continuous Innovation

The Smart Factory model is one which doesn't have an end, but it does have a maturity curve. Cost should not prevent a business from becoming a Smart Factory. Transition can be done in stages, with smart stations being created and then eventually evolving, become a complete Smart Factory.


Business Capability Map

This image contains a screenshot of a Business Capability Map



Increases customer engagement, information and satisfaction

The cybernated supply chain model enables the business to offer up-to-the-minute status on all orders, a tremendous benefit for customers. The highest capability businesses can provide accuracy for regular and forecasted orders. They also store products at the most strategic points, which may mean the use of partner warehouses.

Highly skilled workers become trusted thought leaders

Labor requirements decrease as more of the capabilities become electronic. However, the staffing skill levels become higher level skills needed to conduct the planning and management of the supply chain. Unlike a traditional structure that relies heavily on manual decision-making, the cybernated supply chain uses highly skilled internal planners and partnerships.

On-time-in-full (OTIF) drives high customer satisfaction ratings

The biggest priority for a manufacturer is to produce the right product with all its components on-time-in-full (OTIF). Many companies used to use on-time-delivery as their metric and thus would still encounter lower customer satisfaction levels. OTIF ensures that the customer is always receiving the product on time, as promised, and in full.

Source: Stowga, 2022. Flexe, 2022. GNOSIS FREIGHT, 2022. White, 2021.


Risks & Uncertainties

Optimization of the tradeoffs between space and speed

When embarking on this set of changes it is vital that a business considers how it will maximize its warehouse space. This planning is a combination of factors such as ceiling height, rack sizes, devices used to move products, size of the products, bin/tote sizes, and goods entry/exit flow patterns. Moving to a velocity-based method will impact the flow paths for placing and picking products. There will be tradeoffs between space and speed.

Integration of complex technology requires a strong planning skillset

Some of the technology, such as demand planning tools, will be highly complex to run, plan, and schedule. Integrations across on-premise and cloud solutions can be complicated. IIoT is one of the more challenging aspects due the lack of a common standard. Some devices for IoT and IIoT are proprietary and will therefore carry higher costs to integrate. The solution will only work as well as the data, so data cleansing must be done as a continuous activity until self-cleansing is achieved.

Cyber-attack concerns keep growing globally

Supply chains are in a continuous level of risk to attacks as the worldwide number of breaches continues to climb. Although there will always be risks, the best method of protection is to build your security strategy in layers and train your staff to be suspicious. Following standards such as NIST will help to ensure that your business isn’t lagging on security. Make sure you partner with reputable companies and have security built into contracts.

Lack of control in international economies can lead to chaos

Some countries control the global supply of goods, which creates global supply chain shortages.

Source: kardex remstar, 2022. OMP, 2022. Liakopoulou, 2021. expressanalytics, 2022. interos, 2022.
interos, 2021. National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2015. Korolov, 2021.


Case Study

L’OREAL GROUPE – Digital Beauty


L’Oreal set out on a transformation journey to not only develop a supply chain platform centered around digital beauty, but also become one of the world’s most ethical companies. Customers’ expectations are changing quickly, so L’Oreal has needed to create a model that adapts in real-time. They are selling 24/7, so there is no down-time and both products and deliveries must be perfect. eCommerce has been steadily increasing and putting stress on the heart of their aspirations that are to ensure great services while being agile, timely, high quality and accurate. They are also committed to the elimination of single-use plastics.


Leveraging of technology to deliver exceptional results. Leveraging data to develop a demand-sensing and anticipated planning model built on machine learning, and artificial intelligence to forecast future sales. A fulfillment factory that utilizes augmented intelligence to models the flows for personalization of services such as delivery, stock planning, product traceability, and autonomous vehicle movements. They’ve developed a network of temporary distribution centers that enable them to handle any peaks and valleys in demand.


They run around the clock and are seamlessly delivering six billion products, two orders per second, across eight distribution channels. They are using augmented technology to model the flow of goods and at the same time deliver online digital experiences for their customers. One hundred percent elimination of single use plastics in most of the distribution centers in Europe and Asia. L’Oreal has built a beauty tech data platform with Google to build forecasts based upon live exchanges.

Sources: Hugos, 2020. CoStar Group Marketplaces, 2022. Knight Frank, 2022.
Victor, 2022 Fornaro, 2022. L’Oréal, 2020. L’Oréal, 2020.




Developing a holistic supply chain strategy requires companies to think about what facets are most vital to tackle first. The following steps will assist any transformation:

  1. Identify the top transformation priorities and investigate technologies.
  2. Review the data and skills to ensure they support the technology.
  3. Prepare first look demos and training for the business.
  4. Investigate partners for solutions and platforms that enable agility and flexibility.
  5. Prepare a primary and contingency budget with a phased rollout plan.

Where to Seek Support

  • CIO
  • COO
  • HR
  • Corporate Roles
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Info-Tech Resources

Vendor Landscape: Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Adopt Blockchain for Supply Chain Transparency

Strategically Phase in Technology to Bolster Supply Chain Management


CoStar Group Marketplaces. Search Commercial Real Estate. 2022. Mar 2022.


Demand Driven Institute. DDMRP - The All-in-One Demand Driven Material Requirements Planning Page. 2022. Mar 2022.

Demand Driven Technologies. Introducing INTUIFLOW. 2022. Mar 2022.

expressanalytics. Data And Analytics Expertise for Every Marketing Challenge on Your Growth Path. 2022. Mar 2022.

Flexe. The intersection of logistics and technology. 2022. Mar 2022.

Fornaro, Francisco Garcia. How Supply Chain Evolves to Meet Our Consumers’ Demands. 2022. Mar 2022.

GNOSIS FREIGHT. The Gnosis Platform - Across the planet, in one platform. Making decisions together, in real time. 2022. Mar 2022.

Hugos, M. CASE STUDY CONCEPT: Zara’s Unique Business Model is Driven by Its Supply Chain Capabilities. 4 Jan 2020. Mar 2022.

Iakovou, Eleftherios and Chelsea C. White III. How to build more secure, resilient, next-gen U.S. supply chains. 3 Dec 2020. Mar 2022.

Info~Tech. Adopt Blockchain for Supply Chain Transparency. 14 Jul 2020. Mar 2022.

—. Strategically Phase in Technology to Bolster Supply Chain Management. 7 Oct 2020. Mar 2020.

—. Vendor Landscape: Hyperconverged Infrastructure. 17 Mar 2017. Mar 2022.

Interos. Interos Annual Global Supply Chain Report. 24 Jun 2021. Mar 2022.

—. The High Cost of Supply Chain Disruptions. 2022. Mar 2022.

kardex remstar. Warehouse Insights - Maximizing Warehouse Space. 2022. Mar 2022.

Knight Frank. Your partners in property. 2022. Mar 2022.

Korolov, Maria. Supply chain attacks show why you should be wary of third-party providers. 27 Dec 2021. Mar 2022.

Liakopoulou, Theano. Disrupting procurement through analytics. 19 May 2021. Mar 2022.

L’Oreal Plants Unlike Any Other’ in China. 2020. Mar 2022.

—. How to forecast sales at the age of Data & AI? 2020. Mar 2020.

L’Oreal. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Best Practices in Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management. 28 Sep 2015. Mar 2022.

OMP. Making your day. 2022. Mar 2022.

Project 44. Supply Chain Crisis Tracker. 28 Mar 2022. Mar 2022.

Project44. Supply Chain Visibility System. 2022. Mar 2022.

Rebaudo, Stefano. Supply chain disruption: is the worst over? 3 Nov 2021. Mar 2022.

roambee. Better Supply Chain Visibility & Intelligence - Real-Time | On-Demand | End-to-End. 2022. Mar 2022.

Stowga. The world's warehousing marketplace. 2022. Mar 2022.

Supply Chain Quotes. 2022. Mar 2022.

The Associated Press. Hanjin bankruptcy filing causes global shipping crisis, retail fears. 2 Sep 2016. Mar 2022.

TrustRadius. Supply Chain Statistics for 2021. 28 Nov 2021. Mar 2022.

Victor, Robert. Best Supply Chains from Companies Around the World. 9 Jun 2017. Mar 2022.

White, Sarah K. What is SCOR? A model for improving supply chain management. 13 Aug 2021. Mar 2022.

World Customs Organization. Glossary of International Customs Terms. Dec 2018. Mar 2022.


Predictive Reality

Universal Sensing

Predictive Reality

Universal Sensing and Prevention

Info-Tech Pulse: 54

Predictability is vital for ensuring the flow of goods can happen unincumbered. For the manufacturing operation to run on a 24/7 cycle there needs to be a combination of reliable technology and predictive capabilities.

This is a new level of capability that leverages IIoT to move from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance. Predictive and preventative maintenance are complementary processes which ensure that the operation runs at optimal levels.

Predictive capabilities are leveraged across a variety of processes and are the starting point for other plans that enable calls for action. Within the production context the predictive capabilities are used for enabling proactive actions such as ordering products, raw materials, maintenance, and replacements parts.

Information that flows into machine learning and artificial intelligent processes from applications and IIoT is empowering organizations to maximize their use of services and equipment, while minimizing downtime.

Studies show a 30%-40% savings for companies that implement predictive maintenance.

Source: Silica, 2019. Gourley, 2021. Newton, 2021. Columbus, 2019. Wu, 2020.

“Information makes us smarter but intelligence enables those smarts to be applied for accurate detection and repair of equipment and processes.”
Kevin Tucker,
Principle Research Director,
ITRG 2022

Cost of 1 hour of shop floor downtime

Reduce unplanned downtime as much as...

Potential defect detection rate improvement through smart defect detection

Improved service time to resolution.

Revenue improvements from intelligent automation

“Predictive Maintenance avoids unplanned or unexpected outages and reduces costs by avoiding costly downtime and enabling the business to proactively work around production schedules.”
Leah Gourley,
Digital Content Marketing Specialist,
PTC 2021

Source: Snyder, Meek and Tomipekka, 2020. Gourley, 2021.


Technology Signals

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicates a divergence from the status quo:



Unplanned System Downtime

The system goes down and the operations team react to either attempt to correct the problem or contact other resources for assistance.

No Unplanned Outages

Predictive and preventative monitoring tools keep the system running 99.99% of the time.

Inspection Identifies Product Gaps

The product has gone outside of the tolerance and some or all of the batch fails inspection.

Automated Testing and Self-Healing

Live tolerance-based monitoring and corrective actions through robotic process automation and intervention.

Book Preventative Maintenance by Averages

Each piece of equipment has a generic lifecycle schedule for maintenance.

Sensor and Actual Usage Based Planning

Combining IIoT, machine learning, analytics, and supplier recommendations to predict and plan by quantitative measures/tolerances.

Experience-based Throughput

Knowledgeable employees determine the scheduling and maximum throughput levels and may use manufacturing requirements planning tools.

Machine Learning and AI Planning

Utilize live data tracking, cycle time, idle time, and product profiling to maximize throughput.

Higher Safety Risk and Lower Satisfaction

Equipment malfunctions are more prevalent, and injuries occur as a result of the operator finding out that there is a problem only after the injury occurs.

Safe and Satisfied

Lower risk of injury and higher job satisfaction through automation of processes, greater problem detection, leading to much greater overall satisfaction and quality.

Source: Burke, Mussomeli and Laaper, 2017. Kampa, 2018. Rayven, 2022. Thaker, 2018.


Predictive Reality Drivers

Business Growth


Risk and Resilience


Operational Excellence


Customer Value






Business Growth

Manufacturing equipment is the cornerstone of growth. If the equipment is down the company can't grow. They aim for 100% uptime, but only a small few currently achieve it.

Risk and Resilience

The most critical benefit of a predictive approach is the end-to-end governance capabilities it creates, which translates into low risk and high resilience.

Operational Excellence

Many companies use manufacturing requirements planning (MRP) as the sole tool for planning, leaving major gaps in both historical and forecast management opportunities. In the predictive model the information is arriving in real-time through IIoT sensors, which can be displayed on live dashboards.

Customer Value

When the business is up 100% of the time customer satisfaction levels are higher, and operator satisfaction is higher through automated detection vs manual detection and accountability.

Market Advantage

Keeps repair costs down and equipment running, which is a distinct advantage over competitors.

Continuous Innovation

Competition is becoming more and more spirited; staying abreast of innovation opportunities is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. By conducting continuous incremental innovation, the business is avoiding disruption.


Business Capability Map

This is an image of a business capability map



Predictive maintenance avoids the high cost of downtime

Having a predictive and preventative structure in place is the most effective way to save on the cost of downtime and the inevitable costs associated with surcharges when services need to be expedited or used during non-standard hours. The preventive and predictive processes avoid the extensive cost of large-scale repair. In a remote-first world you aren’t bringing people on premise unnecessarily.

Zero downtime delivers high customer satisfaction

One of manufacturing’s top priorities is to have a reliable environment that can expand and contract its production on demand without fear of machine failures. Having a holistic system in place enables production to be pliable to the demands of customers by having the maintenance and planning processes optimally designed for sustainable uptime.

Proactive management delivers preemptive corrective actions

By understanding how and why and asset failure occurs, a business can act based on the warning signs of a problem. By taking preemptive corrective actions they can increase the asset uptime and life of the asset. By ensuring maximum uptime, the business also ensures that it can drive revenue 24/7 and avoid costly unplanned labor fluctuations and reduce overtime costs.

Source: hippoCMMS, 2022. Konig, 2021.
Guillaume, Hansmann and Tan, 2021. Research and Markets, 2022.


Risks and Uncertainties

Take special care to ensure employees are trained and motivated

People are programmed to react to problems. People talk about predictive and preventive capabilities being important, but often struggle to be motivated to act. Even though some managers put programs in place, only 6% feel the program is successful. More and more companies are running equipment to the max, and this is a major problem.

The right tools are necessary to actively manage the environment

Although companies often discuss being more proactive, they still use paper-based processes that result in employees spending insufficient time on priority jobs and being to slow to react on preventive measures. Having a good CMMS software is an expense but it’s also a large cost avoidance; it maximizes labor through rapid and collaborative work order management processes.

Comprehensive tracking and training will avoid over-maintenance costs

If the program isn’t designed and managed correctly there is a risk of doing too much maintenance. There is a learning curve associated with doing maintenance by time and metering. Coupled with IIoT sensors, you can better understand when the maintenance should be conducted. However, it is possible that people are inclined to become more proactive than necessary.

Source: Hippo Content Team, 2019. Davis, 2021. Davis, Avoid Costly OSHA Violations, 2021.
Davis, How to Win Over Upper-Management with CMMS Software, 2018.


Case Study

Atlantic Alumina – Concord Resources.
** previously Noranda Alumina


Automobile bearings are highly prone to wear over time as they are subjected to harsh conditions. The Atlantic Alumina plant, which operates in the USA, is functioning in a very harsh environment full of various types of dust, dirt, and in some instances caustic substances. The process was reliant on operators monitoring the equipment to watch for problems. If grease wasn’t secreting from seals, they would identify it as a problem and take corrective actions. All monitoring was conducted manually prior to implementing the new solution. When the equipment was down the companies' customers had to import aluminum, due this being one of the only aluminum plants in the country.


Implement an automated monitoring solution that is a combination of predictive maintenance tools, IoT, and artificial intelligence.

They track the gearboxes at 1,500 rpm and leverage ultrasound technology to monitor in the ranges that cannot be monitored by human hearing, and sensors that measure the vibration levels to ensure the equipment is running within range.


Equipment that is down for four hours costs the company approximately one million dollars in lost production.

The implementation of the new system has resulted in a 60% reduction of bearing replacements, which translates into $900,000 saved.

Source: Kennedy, 2021. Leuth, 2017. Atlantic Alumina, 2022. Desmond, 2021.




Predictive and preventive maintenance offer significant cost saving for the company that implements them.

Implement in a systematic way:

  • Leverage IIoT to capture the data live from all systems.
  • Utilize AI and ML to enable the system for self-adjustment.
  • Implement data analytics to maximize the utilization of the data lake.
  • Define detailed SLAs and KPIs for measuring success.
  • Focus on transforming the cultural mindset to predictive instead of reactive.

Where to Seek Support

  • CIO
  • COO
  • HR
  • Corporate Roles
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Source: Nanoprecise, 2021. Thomas, 2022. IMPO, 2018.

Info-Tech Resources

System Maintenance Policy – NIST

Systems Maintenance Procedural Policy

CMMS - ManagerPlus Lightning


Atlantic Alumina. Atlantic Alumina Gramercy Operations. 2022. Mar 2022.

Burke, Rick, et al. The smart factory - Responsive, adaptive, connected manufacturing. 2017. Mar 2022.

Columbus, Louis. Real-Time Data Is The Future Of Smart Manufacturing. 18 Dec 2019. Mar 2022.

Davis, Jonathan. Avoid Costly OSHA Violations. 9 Aug 2021. Mar 2022.

—. How to Win Over Upper-Management with CMMS Software. 8 Oct 2018. Mar 2022.

—. What is Preventive Maintenance? 7 Apr 2021. Mar 2022.

Desmond, John P. Predictive Maintenance Proving Out as Successful AI Use Case. 28 Oct 2021. Mar 2022.

Gourley, Leah. What is Predictive Maintenance and How is it Transforming Manufacturing? 5 Feb 2021. Mar 2022.

Guillaume, Decaix, et al. Prediction at scale: How industry can get more value out of maintenance. 22 Jul 2021. Mar 2022.

Hippo Content Team. Preventive Maintenance Implementation Roadblocks. 1 Jul 2019. Mar 2022.

hippoCMMS. Done Faster with CMMS Software - Capture and share reliable data to boost asset reliability, avoid unscheduled downtime, and cut costs. 2022. Mar 2022.

IMPO. 5 Steps to Implementing Predictive Maintenance at Scale. 10 Oct 2018. Mar 2022.

Kampa, Simon Dr. Smart factories and the rise of predictive maintenance. 3 Dec 2018. Mar 2022.

Kennedy, Sheila. Push the needle: How 6 companies are achieving predictive maintenance success. 20 Oct 2021. Mar 2022.

Konig, Jolandie. Importance and Benefits of Predictive and Preventive Maintenance. 2021.

Leuth, Knud Lasse. The Top 20 Companies Enabling Predictive Maintenance. 6 Apr 2017. Mar 2022.

Nanoprecise. Our Journey towards becoming the Market Leader in Predictive Maintenance. 12 Jul 2021. Mar 2022.

Newton, Emily. Why Does Smart Manufacturing Need to Leverage Real-Time Data? 15 Jun 2021. Mar 2022.

Rayven. Rayven enables brilliant Industry 4.0 data, AI + IoT solutions. 2022. Mar 2022.

Research and Markets. The Worldwide Predictive Maintenance Industry is Expected to Reach $22+ Billion by 2026. 3 Feb 2022. Mar 2022.

Silica, Avnet. Smart Factories: From preventive to predictive Maintenance. 29 Jun 2019. Mar 2022.

Snyder, Skip, et al. Smart Manufacturing - AI technologies intelligent insights. 2020. Mar 2022.

Thaker, Janki. Why Is Predictive Analytics Important In Smart Manufacturing? 18 Jun 2018. Mar 2022.

Thomas. Top U.S.A and International Predictive Maintenance Software Companies. 2022. Mar 2022.

Wu, Warren. What is Predictive Maintenance? (+Benefits, Cost, & Examples). 2 Dec 2020. Mar 2022.


Contextual Intelligence

Dynamic Data-Driven Decisions

Info-Tech Pulse: 61

The problem with manual processes is that they are prone to error as operators leave and take their knowledge with them.

There is a wide array of new technologies that can help companies become more efficient across all dimensions of the business. However, the true power of the technology isn’t automation. The beneficial aspect of the changes can only be realized through context intelligence.

For example, Kuka has developed robotics which improve production and reduce labor requirements. There are certainly benefits associated with reduced labor, cobotic interaction, and being able to run without stopping for shift changes.

Technology’s greatest impact is achieved when combining people, robotics, data analytics, and living sensor information that enables the solution to couple processing with intelligence across all devices. The system that can direct events or activities and conduct self-healing is the truly intelligent system because it links context with intelligence.

“Companies that are capturing live data and overlaying it with machine learning and accurate artificial intelligence have a significant competitive advantage.”
Kevin Tucker,
Principle Research Director,
ITRG 2022

Source: Yoon, 2021. Brehm, 2021. KUKA, 2022. accenture, 2016. AKTANA, 2020.

AI in Manufacturing 2019

AI in Manufacturing 2027 Projection

Reduction in Forecast Errors

Demand Planning Workload Reduction

Reduction in Product Obsolescence

Source: Columbus, 2020. Fortune Business Insights, 2019. Hemmerle, 2019.

“We provide elements of our innovative digital image tagging software, which has proven effective in multiple AI applications; in turn, we receive support in taking our AI software to the next level of development. Also, this allows us to focus more strongly on advancing specific AI applications in production and logistics.”
Christian Patron,
Head of Innovation, Digitization, Smart Data Analytics,
BMW Group


Technology Signals

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicates a divergence from the status quo:



Manual Information

The production and planning operations rely on a lot of manual information and decision-making processes, such as a production manager making decisions on the fly.

Live Information

The system uses sensors and APIs to capture live data for production operations.

Hindsight-based Reporting

The business produces reports based upon the previous day, week, month, and cannot forecast the future.

Historical and Forecast

Demand Requirements Planning are leveraged to conduct historical, live, and forecasted reporting based on internal and customer-provided information.

Local Information and Communication

Staff in the factory only communicate with each other on the floor and cannot share with peers outside of the company.

Global Networked Information

The information is collected and shared across a neural network inside and extended outside the company to leverage syndicated information.

Technologist Repair and Hold

When machines or products have problems it’s the operator that informs management, and the skills manufacturing engineers that do the repairs.

Systematic Self-healing

The system monitors and self-corrects. In the event of a problem, it automatically stops the existing batch in order to conduct corrective actions.

Learn by Problem and Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

When problems happen it’s the job of the production team to conduct root cause analysis and determine a corrective action plan.

Machine Learning

The system is continuously learning from the live data at the machine and the data lake AI/Analytics integrations which offer warnings, corrective action, and training.

Source: Welcome to the Jungle, 2021. Schneider, 2021.


Contextual Intelligence Drivers

Business Growth


Risk and Resilience


Operational Excellence


Customer Value






Business Growth

The cost of growth is mitigated once the business achieves Smart Factory. Labor cost reduction is an inevitable outcome, but the biggest benefit from technology is its ability to expand and contract on demand. Business growth is supported through its ability to expand and contract, but machine learning offers an additional benefit through the ability to identify new product designs and business processes. Speed, creativity, scalability, and cost reduction are key.

Risk and Resilience

Having end-to-end processes with real-time intelligence at the core is paramount to governance and the foundation of a repeatable, reliable production environment. By understanding the barriers to change and being an influencer of awareness through improved communications, the risk becomes mitigated.

Operational Excellence

The key to operational excellence is data. AI- and ML-based processes become more and more effective as the level of data increases and algorithms are refined. Open-source AI is helping to accelerate innovation through a global sharing of ideas. An environment where people and technology have developed contextual Intelligence creates excellence.

Source: Kutz, 2008. Kutz, 2011, IPL, 1995.

Customer Value

Making decisions based on highly reliable context-based information is inherently valuable for customers. For years companies have made good decisions based upon technology. Now the greatest benefit for customers is a business’s ability to proactively initiate discussions with customers, to explore new ideas and avoid potential problems.

Market Advantage

Intelligent processing is the new game changer; AI has accelerated in capabilities over the past five years. Delivering messaging internally and externally is highly effective when coupled with the right context.

Continuous Innovation

Innovation isn't optional anymore. The open-source AI movement is proving that the power of many can rapidly accelerate innovation. By combining innovation and contextually intelligent information, the result is continuous improvement and continuous innovation.

Source: Malouf, 2016. Stormon, 2022. Service, 2012. BasuMallick, 2022.
Google AI, 2022. Choy, 2020. Lunt, 2013.


Business Capability Map

This image contains a screenshot of a Business Capability Map



Leveraging AI/ML to make the right products at the right time

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming the most sought-after tools for the production operation because of their benefits. Cost savings is achieved through greater efficiency of resources and a heightened sense of quality. Tools that leverage AI, such as demand requirements planning, ensure that the operation has the right goods at the right time and that they are shipping by the most efficient means. AI and ML have advanced to the point that all operations and activities are surrounded by context, which enables good decision-making and avoids unplanned costs.

Contextual decision-making creates and safer environment for employees

Protection of employees against injury is paramount, but manufacturing accidents in 2019 were still 395,000 injuries and 35,000 illnesses. Manufacturing has been considered one of the top 10 occupations for workplace injury. AI and ML are helping to reduce injuries by having machines conduct the less safe activities on behalf of human beings, and work in a cobotic fashion.

An intelligent, effective, high-quality factory, delivering solutions on time

Building AI and ML into the manufacturing process enables a context-based rapid decision-making environment that is more efficient and more accurate.

Source: Hyun, 2020. PLANETTOGETHER, 2021. HASLAM College of Business, 2021.
Maguire, 2022. THINGTRAX, 2020. Work Injury Source, 2021.


Risks and Uncertainties

Planners must be highly skilled in order to deliver accuracy

Incorporating AI/ML and contextual intelligence into manufacturing requires a lot of skills and knowledge. Planners need to have domain knowledge, know where to get data, be able to create the plans in usable formats, get the teams to use the plans, and monitor to ensure that all facets of the structure are working correctly. If any of these elements aren’t correct the entire process will yield incorrect results. Accurate planning takes time, knowledge and testing to avoid being too lean, too bloated, or making incorrect decisions. The goal should be to avoid becoming too reactive.

Complexity can make it more difficult to find the root cause of problems

With this great new capability comes a large new level of complexity that the business has to contend with. In a manual process it is much easier to identify the root cause of problems when they occur. In an AI/ML-based environment filled with complexity it can be very difficult to find the root cause of the problems; this creates some major headaches for businesses that don’t have advanced skills.

Incorrect results will be the outcome of a weak data strategy

At the heart of the contextual intelligent factory is the data strategy. If this isn’t properly integrated, ingested, linked, sorted, protected, and filtered, the business will yield negative results when using the data. Protection must be considered for data privacy field constraints.


Case Study

Adobe – Adobe Sensei


The success of current AI solutions is highly dependent on the algorithms being developed by the creators. As a result, there is a level of variability that some customers find difficult to reconcile. Why is the agent/report/robot/job/program giving me this response?

The challenge is becoming how to solve the problem of having AI and ML learning tools that can’t provide the correct direction for every scenario.


Develop AI to become more closely linked with how humans think vs being logically locked into one algorithmic approach. Move AI from being a black box that can morph itself over time, into a solution that contains a high degree of self-learning capability.

Deep learning addressed some of these shortcomings of AI, but it could still be attacked, tricked, or confused.


The creation of a product that focuses on the needs of the user and accelerates activities such as design production being completed 50% faster than traditional methods.

Adobe has leverage contextual AI to help design, optimize and deliver designs more rapidly and effectively.

Businesses doing designs for manufacturing can utilize this method to rapidly generate new conceptual designs for your products.

Source: Adobe, 2019.


Case Study

Siemens and Google – AI and ML Factory Partnership


Most of the manufacturing industry is still using legacy systems and a variety of tools to stitch together their operation. Even though they gather mountains of data and may on some level be data-driven, they aren’t able to capitalize on the data and many of their processes are resource-intensive. Manufacturers have begun to implement some AI in their plants, but they tend to be isolated to specific functions. For companies to reach a contextual intelligence capability they need to be able to use AI and data at scale across the factory; this partnership aims to resolve this.


The partnership focuses on developing a cloud-centric approach that enables manufacturing businesses to digitally transform their business. Google has an industry-leading data cloud, and Siemens is an industry leader in factory automation.

They are combining the strengths of both companies' solutions into a seamless and intelligent cloud-based experience.


Cloud-based analytics, AI, algorithms and applications at the edge.

New capabilities to leverage computer vision applications for inspection as well as conducting predictive actives which prevent downtime. Real-time augmentation of shop floor activities.


“By simplifying the deployment of AI in industrial use cases, we’re helping employees augment their critical work on the shop floor,”
Dominik Wee,
Managing Director, Manufacturing & Industrial
Google Cloud

Source: Wheatley, 2021.




What we’ve looked at so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Moving to a world of AI and contextual intelligence will enable businesses to develop solutions that can sense, think, predict, and imagine new ways of operating.

Consider the following Initiatives:

  • Rapid design optimization.
  • Demand requirements planning for supply chain.
  • Dynamic production planning and scheduling.
  • 90% defect-detection through deep-learning processes.
  • 360-degree visibility and 20% increase in throughput.

Info-Tech Resources

Get Started With Artificial Intelligence

AI Spend to ‘Grow Rapidly,’ Validation for CIOs as Experiments Pay Off

Create an Architecture for AI

Where to Seek Support

  • CIO
  • COO
  • HR
  • Corporate Roles
  • Sales
  • Marketing


accenture. Innovator’s Guide to Contextual Intelligence and Robotics. 13 Jun 2016. Mar 2022. Web.

Adobe. Adobe Sensei - Power incredible experiences with AI. 2022. Mar 2022. Web.

AKTANA. Contextual Intelligence: What it is and Why it Matters. 3 Jun 2020. Mar 2022. Web.

BasuMallick, Chiradeep. Top 10 Open Source Artificial Intelligence Software in 2021. 10 Feb 2022. Mar 2022. Web.

Brdiczka, Oliver. Contextual AI: The Next Frontier of Artificial Intelligence. Adobe. 9 Apr 2019. Mar 2022. Web.

Brehm, Rainer. How AI Is Enabling Self-Learning Factories. 9 Dec 2021. Mar 2022. Web.

Choy, Derek. How AI Drives Innovation for the Life Sciences Industry - Contextual Intelligence. 2020. Mar 2022. Web.

Columbus, Louis. 10 Ways AI Is Improving Manufacturing In 2020. 18 May 2020. Mar 2022. Web.

—. Top 10 Ways Contextual Integration Will Transform Manufacturing in 2017. 5 Jan 2017. Mar 2022. Web.

Fortune Business Insights. Adoption of AI to create growth opportunities amid COVID-19 Crisis. 2019. Mar 2020. Web.

GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME. Contextual Intelligence (CI): The Key to Successful Consulting. 2022. Mar 2022. Web.

Google AI. Tools and Resources - Tools for everyone - Get started with AI. 2022. Mar 2022. Web.

HASLAM College of Business. A Guide to Forecasting Demand in a Stretched Supply Chain. 19 Mar 2021. Mar 2022. Web.

Hemmerle, Andreas. BMW Group shares AI algorithms used in production. 12 Dec 2019. 2022. Web.

Hyun, Jin. How Much Can Businesses Save With Demand Forecasting Software? 26 Jul 2020. Mar 2022. Web.

IBM. See how our customers are building great experiences and succeeding with Adobe. 2022. Mar 2022. Web.

IPL. Sternberg's Concept Of Contextual Intelligence. 1995. Mar 2022. Web.

Javanmardian, Kia and Hamid Samandari. Confronting the risks of artificial intelligence. 26 Apr 2019. Mar 2022.

KUKA. Industrial Automation. 2022. Mar 2022.

Kutz, Matt. Contextual intelligence: Overcoming hindrances to performing well in times of change. Apr 2011. Mar 2022.

Kutz, Matthew. CONTEXTUAL INTELLIGENCE - An Emerging Competency for Global Leaders. Aug 2008. Mar 2022.

Lozzi, David. Adobe Sensei Keynote Roo Demo. 10 Apr 2018. Mar 2022.

Lunt, Teresa. Cointextual Intelligence as a Driver of Services Innovation. 2013. Mar 2022.

Malouf, Alex. Why Local Knowledge Matters: The Importance Of Contextual Intelligence For Your Business. 7 Aug 2016. Mar 2022.

Maguire, Jamie. How Applying AI in Manufacturing Will Save Billions of Dollars for Industry. 2022. Mar 2022.

Mewari, Madan Mohan and Gurudatta Kamath. 17 Remarkable Use Cases of AI in the Manufacturing Industry. 2022. Mar 2022.

o9 Solutions. How to Overcome the Top 5 Challenges Demand Planners Face. 19 Oct 2021. Mar 2022.

PLANETTOGETHER. 4 Advantages of Demand Planning. 5 Apr 2021. Mar 2022.

Schneider, Martin. Contextual Intelligence: Not All AI is Created Equal. 26 Aug 2021. Mar 2022

Service, Robert W. Leadership and Innovation Across Cultures: The CIQ—Contextual . Jan 2012. Mar 2022.

Siemens. Unique automation portfolio - From integrated drives and smart controllers to innovative PLM software. 2022. Mar 2022. .

Staley, Jessica. The Importance of AI for Manufacturing. 2022. Mar 2022.

Stormon, Allan. Contextual Intelligence: Everything you need to know and why it matters. 2 Mar 2022. Mar 2022.

Supply Chain. How to Mitigate Risk in Demand Driven Supply Chains. 11 Jul 2018. Mar 2022.

THINGTRAX. The Value of AI in Manufacturing. 30 Apr 2020. Mar 2022.

Welcome to the Jungle. Contextual intelligence: the skill that allows you to make better decisions. 26 Feb 2021. Mar 2022.

Wheatley, Mike. Siemens will use Google’s AI to enable more efficient factory automation. 19 Apr 2021. Mar 2022.

Work Injury Source. Workplace Injury Statistics - 2021. 2021. Mar 2022.

Yoon, Sang Won. Smart Factory in Electronics Manufacturing: AI-based Closed-Loop Self-Optimization Platform. 26 Apr 2021. Mar 2022.



Make the Case for a Smart Factory Initiative

Funnel technology trends into business opportunities

Transform strategic foresight trend insights into actionable initiatives by determining what technology your factory should prioritize and how to persuade stakeholders for approval

Dealing with trends is one of the most important tasks for innovation and digital transformation. It provides the basis of developing the future orientation of the factory. However, being aware of a trend is one thing; developing a response strategy is another. Info-Tech has evaluated and chosen trends that are important in different capacities. At this point, your factory should determine what technologies are applicable to your factory.

Your strategy should involve the following steps:

  1. Prioritization: Info-Tech began this step for you by determining the general impacts of the trend for the industry and the technologies available. Now it’s your turn. Which technologies should you prioritize?
  2. Persuasion: After determining what to prioritize, how could you persuade and gain support from your stakeholders?

A funnel is depicted.  The primary input for the funnel is labeled: Strategic Foresight Trends Report: 4 Driving Trends; the stages of the funnel are as follows: 01 Prioritization: Trend and Technology Opportunities 02 Persuasion: Minimum Viable Business Case

Prioritize your technology initiatives by doing a high-level analysis

This strategic foresight trends report is the horizon scanning needed to determine the degree of impact the trend has on your industry. Transition from horizon scanning to strategic action requires evaluation of what specific technological opportunities can lead to growth for your factory. To customize to your factory, we need to further evaluate the opportunities by a set of criteria:

Industry Specific

The degree of impact the trend will have on your industry. A trend with high impact will drive new business models, products, or services.

Factory Value Drivers

Business Capabilities

Horizon scanning done by Info-Tech to determine the impact of these trends on the factory industry

Further customize this score depending on:

  • The mutually exclusiveness of each technology. Does it fall in multiple trend buckets that further benefits the industry, making it more available, applicable and impactful for the factory than originally intended?
  • The specific technology that’s being analyzed. Analysis was done for the trends as wholes, but these scores could vary depending on the specific technology that’s being analyzed.




The relevance of the trend to your organization. Does the trend fulfill the vision or the goals of the organization?

The estimated disruption time this trend will have to your industry.

Decide your score based on:

  • Technology’s impact on factory classification: service level, target segments, and location. What are your customers' needs and expectations?
  • Comparatively, does this technology conflict with other implemented technologies? Will it provide redundancy for applications and features? Could you do without it?
  • Projects and requirements gathering: Will this technology satisfy the needs of your business stakeholders?

Decide your score based on:

  • Assess whether the trend will require significant development to support its entry into the ecosystem.
  • Assess your factory’s implementation budget.

Assessment: Time, relevancy and impact will inform the overall effect on the industry and specific organization. When contrasted with the concept of a MoSCoW-based relevance to impact analysis, this information forms an enhanced decision-making framework that can be used to define a strategically sequenced roadmap.

This image contains a screenshot of a quadrant analysis chart with the following dataset.  X axis: Relevance.  Y axis: Impact the following data are placed in the chart, in order from left to right, top to bottom: LR/HI; HR/HI; LR/LI; HR/LI

Ranked technologies based on your needs:

  1. Technology MUST ADDRESS
  2. Technology SHOULD ADDRESS
  3. Technology SHOULD ADDRESS
  4. Technology COULD ADDRESS

Look to implement these technologies into your factory

Vetting of technology opportunities

To determine which opportunity to act on, use a prioritization framework that enables decision makers to see the timing, relevance, and impact the opportunities pose.

We have defined this criteria already; now leverage it to prioritize the technology(s) to pursue.

This image depicts a table, and a quadrant analysis vetting technology opportunities.  The technologies being vetted are: AL/ML; IIoT; Demand Planning; Robotics; Drone

Activity: Prioritize Smart Factory technology initiatives

1-3 hours

  1. Download the reshaping-the-ecosystem Technology Initiative Workbook
  2. As a group, analyze each technology based on the timing, impact, and relevance criteria.
  3. Consider any further impacts of this trend based on the Trends Report such as the Drivers, Business Capability Map, Benefits, Risks, Case Study and Recommendations.
  4. Using the editable version of the Vetting Tablet, apply the results of the above discussions to determine the scoring of each technology.
  5. Using the editable version of the MoSCoW graph, plot each technology on the graph as an overview reference in creating a prioritized list of technology initiatives.

Download the Smart Factory Technology Initiative Workbook


  • Key stakeholder input
  • Trends Report analysis
  • In-room technology long list
  • Timing, impact, and relevance criteria


  • Prioritized list of in-room technology initiatives based on the timing, impact, and relevance criteria


  • Vetting Table
  • MoSCoW Graph
  • Trends Report


  • CIO
  • IT Management Members
  • Key Business Stakeholders in Your Organization

Leverage the trends report outputs for your minimum viable business case



Technology Signals

Each technology is introduced with a description, highlighting its growth and impact using a before and after comparison.


Describing the proposed reshaping-the-ecosystem initiative: its key features, its size, its target market, and its main revenue streams.


Each trend is introduced with a description and statistics, highlighting its growth and impact.


Documenting reasons for the design of the initiative.


Align the rationale of the modernization initiative with the business goals of manufacturing, identifying ways in which the current state is impeding the progress of the organization and highlighting potential enablers for progress associated with the initiative.

Manufacturing Drivers

An analysis of the 360-degree view of value drivers who will be impacted – both positively and negatively – upon the implementation of this trend.

Business Capability Map

An analysis of the 360-degree view of the business capabilities that will be positively impacted based on cost advantage and competitive advantage weightings upon the implementation of this trend.


A summary of benefits that could be achieved from a business and human perspective through the successful adoption of these technologies.


A summary of risks and critical unknowns that could be realized from a business and human perspective through the adoption of these technologies.

Risks and Mitigation Tactics

To demonstrate preparedness, highlight risks that could affect the modernization initiative and ways to mitigate either the possibility of the risk occurring, or the effect of the risk should it occur.


Calculated methods to measure benefits realized for the costs incurred for each respective technology.

Benefit Analysis

Determine the quantitative benefits for the cost-benefit analysis in deciding on the expectations for profitability and returns from the undertaken initiative.

Documenting key elements that specific stakeholders prioritize in your business case is the key to gain support

Encompass the business, operational, and technical feasibility and impact in your rationale

Executive Leadership

  • To understand business imperatives and considerations.
  • To ascertain areas of opportunities and operational impact.

Operations Leadership

  • To understand what the technology means for each manufacturing function.
  • To identify existing operational pain points and opportunities to improve productivity.

IT Leadership and Department Leadership

  • To identify both technical and non-technical considerations when adopting technology solutions.
  • To understand requirements and challenges in selecting and implementing technology solutions in the manufacturing context.

Who will be impacted?

Where you should gain support

  • CIO
    • Integration, Design, Maintenance, and Productivity Savings
  • COO
    • Customer Product Value, and Supply Chain Reliability
  • HR
    • Labor Wellness, Skills Development, and Employee Engagement
  • Corporate Roles
    • Business Growth, Brand Impact, Revenue, Sustainability, Cost Savings
  • Sales
    • Program Skills, Technical Knowledge and Integration.
  • Marketing
    • Customer Value, Cost Savings, Labor and Productivity Savings

Align IT and Business Initiatives

  1. Extract business initiatives from corporate documents that contain business aspirations, goals, and outline initiatives to determine existing priorities and goals set out by the organization. Examples of documents include Annual Reports and Business Unit Strategy documents.
  2. Determine the benefits of the Smart Factory initiative that closely aligns and promotes the success of the business goals.
  3. Make the case for the Smart Factory initiative by discovering gaps in the current state, describing how the Smart Factory technology can accomplish the manufacturing business goals.

three columns are depicted.  Business goals are achieved through Factory Initiative, and current state is achieved through factory initiative


Leveraging the trends report as a key input

Trends Report: The Future of Smart Factory

Business Context & IT Strategy: IT Strategy; Digital Strategy

IT Strategy

Digital Strategy

As part of your next steps checklist, leverage the trends report for priorities that drive measurable top-line organizational outcomes and the unlocking of direct value.

The future will hold more trends and technologies, making it pivotal that your manufacturing business continues to establish itself as the disrupter, and not the disrupted. You must establish a structured approach to innovation management that considers external trends as well as internal processes. Info-Tech’s Define Your Digital Business Strategy blueprint and Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy blueprint give you the tools you need to effectively process signals in your environment, build an understanding of relevant trends, and turn this understanding into action.

Research Contributors and Experts

Brian Buddemeyer
VP, Information Technology
Spang & Company

Mike Smith

Andreas Schild
IT Business Partner PCT
Comet AG

Stefan Iseli
Director IT, Smart Factory
Comet AG

Jay Stanley
Heartland Food Products Group

Alexandru Teodorescu
Account Executive

Steve Schmidt
Managing Director
Info-Tech Research Group

Mike Fahey
Executive Counsellor
Info-Tech Research Group

Jacob Tufts
Director, Member Services
Info-Tech Research Group

Duraid Ibrahim
Executive Advisor
Info-Tech Research Group

Linda Pretorius
Director - IT & Business Transformation
MHI Canada Aerospace Inc.

Larry Fretz
Vice President, Industry
Info-Tech Research Group

Andy Neill
Associate VP, Enterprise Architecture, Data & Analytics
Info-Tech Research Group

An industry strategic foresight trends report

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst


Kevin Tucker

Larry Fretz


  • Buddemeyer, Brian; VP, Information Technology Spang & Company
  • Iseli, Stefan; Director IT Smart Factory, Comet AG
  • Pretorius, Linda; Director IT & Business Transformation, MHI Canada Aerospace Inc.
  • Schild, Andreas; IT Business Partner PCT, Comet AG
  • Smith, Mike; CIO, Sonepar
  • Stanley, Jay; VP IT, Heartland Food Products Group
  • Teodorescu, Alexandru; Account Executive, PDSVISION
  • Monthly Industry Roundtable Participant Feedback

Search Code: 99563
Last Revised: September 27, 2022


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