Manufacturers are moving to adopt Industry 4.0 technology while confronting shortages of skilled workers, according to a new survey.
“The vast majority of manufacturers surveyed have recognized the need for industrial transformation, with most already taking action,” according to a summary of the survey conducted by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Prudential Retirement.
Of respondents, 27% said their companies have experienced “substantial transformation” and another 36% said their companies are “in the process of transforming some parts of our organization.”
Another 19% are developing strategies, according to the report, while 10% say they “have not yet developed a coherent strategy.”
The surveyed covered 537 executives at companies of various sizes. The manufacturers were spread across eight industries, including makers of machinery, fabricated metal products and motorized vehicles and parts. The survey took place in July.
“A significant number of our clients wanted to dive deep and derive insights” about changes in manufacturing, said Mike Domingos, a vice president at Prudential Retirement, part of Prudential Financial Inc.
The survey didn’t get into details about specific technology. The term Industry 4.0 covers various tech, including “connected” devices, more sophisticated automation and cloud computing. Industry 4.0 leads to workers managing and monitoring equipment from tablet computers and smartphones.
“Industry 4.0 means different things to different people,” Domingos said.
Respondents who said their companies have adopted such tech reported it has helped boost revenue, cut costs and improved “collaboration and communication,” according to the report.
At the same time, the issue of worker skill levels is a concern.
“It is inevitable that manufacturers will face new pressures to secure talent with the necessary skills and competencies to succeed,” according to the survey. “More than a third of survey respondents acknowledge that they are struggling with recruiting and retaining talent.”
New manufacturing jobs in general require greater skill levels because of increased automation. Manufacturers also face an impending brain drain as Baby Boomer employees retire.
“That is absolutely top of mind for executives,” Domingos said.
Among respondents, “42% worry that over the next three years they will not be able to recruit new workers with the necessary prerequisites for on-the-job training,” according to the report. Another 38% are “also concerned there will be a lack of candidates interested in manufacturing work.”