Nearly 90% of senior manufacturing industry executives predict that the competitive importance and pace of innovation will increase significantly as companies deepen their adoption of Manufacturing 4.0 (M4.0) technologies, according to results from the latestInnovation in Manufacturingresearch survey, conducted by Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council, Santa Clara, Calif.

In addition, as new M4.0 technologies, such as advanced analytics, assist companies with identifying disruptive new product developments and greater efficiencies and agility on the plant floor, the focus of innovation activities will increasingly shift beyond company walls. Instead, the manufacturing industry's innovation emphasis will move toward the development of new product-related services, supply chain improvements and innovative business models to create new competitive advantages over the next five years.

"Manufacturing 4.0 technologies are enabling manufacturers to shift the focus of innovation activities beyond their factory walls, opening up new opportunities for disruptive, game-changing improvements," says Paul Tate, executive editor and research director. "There is clear evidence that the focus on competitive innovation for the future of the manufacturing industry is going to become far more intense in an increasingly digitized and fast-changing world."

When comparing the highest degrees of emphasis for innovation activities both today and in the next five years, key findings from the survey include:

  • Supply chain innovation focus rising substantially from 33% to 49%.
  • Business model innovation showing a strong increase, up from 29% to 52%.
  • Service innovation significance increasing from 37% to 57%.

The survey also shows that topping the list of the most transformative technology enablers are Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and pervasive sensor networks (64%), advanced data analytics (56%) and 3D printing systems that allow the rapid prototyping of new product ideas (42%).

The new survey is one of six exclusive research projects conducted each year by the 800-member Manufacturing Leadership Council.