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Digital Twins Now in Use at One in Five Factories, Survey Finds

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While $1.1 trillion annually is being invested in digital factory initiatives worldwide, most companies, 64%, are still at an early stage of their digital transformation.

Investments in digital factories are booming, but implementation is lagging behind. At this point, about one in 10 companies are working with fully functioning digital twins, and a like amount developing this capability.

That’s the word from PwC, in its 2022 Digital Factory Transformation Survey, which finds that while $1.1 trillion annually is being invested in digital factory initiatives worldwide, most companies, 64%, are still at an early stage of their digital transformation. The consultancy’s survey of 700 executives from large companies finds efforts lagging.

Only 10% of companies have fully implemented digital factory solutions or are currently in the final phase, the survey shows. Close to two-thirds can only show partial results, or are still at the beginning of their digital journey. In comparison to PwC’s first survey on the topic in 2016, factory digitalization is progressing much more slowly than anticipated. Factors holding back digital progress include complex system environments and highly diverse and distributed machine landscapes, and the associated challenges of scaling individual solutions across the entire production network.

“Despite slow progress in many cases, digitization is still high on the agenda,” according to Dr. Reinhard Geissbauer, author of the study. “With new imperatives alongside cost and efficiency, due to the scale of external disruption in recent years, resilience and transparency are now the key drivers for digital transformation. Another driver that has been gaining importance, and will continue to do so, is sustainability.”

See also: 5G and Digital Twins: It Takes an Ecosystem

The use cases seeing the most traction at this time include quality control analytics, maintenance solutions, and automated KPI monitoring.

Use cases include the following:
– Maintenance analytics 48%
– Quality analytics 40%
– Automated KPI monitoring 34%
– Digital product lifecycle twin 26%
– Performance analytics and dashboards 21%
– Digital factory twin 19%

More than half of companies in the chemicals and high-tech sectors have fully implemented maintenance analytics solutions to enhance efficiency and safety in production processes, and most companies that have not yet fully implemented maintenance analytics and quality analytics are currently in the rollout phase.

About a third of companies, 31%, report they have implemented industrial IoT, and another 41% are in the process of an IoT rollout. Heavy industrial manufacturing companies are leading on IIoT implementations, with 41% having already implemented platforms. Chemicals and process companies and high-tech and electronics companies are lagging in IIoT, with 18% and 20% full implementations, respectively.

The survey’s authors “expect low-code automation implementation to increase in the wake of IIoT and cloud adoption, as it enables self-service application development, and therefore is a key enabler for scaling of use case development.” Currently, only 10% of companies have completed low-code automation implementation, but 83% are in a rollout or piloting phase.

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics. He served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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