From mass production and the assembly line to automation and the adoption of computers, technology has revolutionized manufacturing practices since the Industrial Revolution. This new era of industrial adjustment, also known as advanced manufacturing, Industry 4.0, or “smart” manufacturing, describes the next wave of important technological change affecting the manufacturing sector. Today, manufacturers stand at a crossroads. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced manufacturers to rethink their competitive position and resiliency to disruption. On top of that, U.S. manufacturing has been experiencing declining productivity growth. The competitive and economic risk of such changes can only be resolved with investments in new skills and new technologies.
In the spring of 2021, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research partnered with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the Technology and Manufacturing Association and the Valley Industrial Association of Illinois to better comprehend where manufacturers are in their journey to adopting advanced manufacturing technologies and processes. To understand what was driving technology adoption, we asked business leaders to share their opinions on advanced manufacturing through an online survey. The respondents represent small and mid-sized manufacturers providing a unique insight from their perspective. This study shows how manufacturers are implementing advanced manufacturing technologies, the benefits and opportunities available in adopting advanced manufacturing technologies, and the obstacles faced.
This survey of select manufacturers found ten important things to know about how advanced manufacturing technologies and processes are being implemented.