Manufacturing 'still at Industry 4.0 pilot stage' - SAP

SAP survey shows manufacturing chiefs know value of Industry 4.0 to resilient supply chains but that two-thirds are stuck at piloting stage

A SAP-commissioned global supply chain survey shows that manufacturing chiefs recognise the need for Industry 4.0 technology to increase supply chain resiliency, but that many are yet to progress beyond the piloting stage. 

The survey, conducted by Oxford Economics, involved 1,000 supply chain executives across 15 industries in countries including the US, Brazil, Germany, France, UK, China and Japan. 

The survey sample includes companies with annual revenue ranging from $500mn to over $10bn. Interviews were conducted in January and February 2023.

It found that manufacturing leaders are more likely than those in other functions to deploy intelligent technologies at scale to improve predictive analytics capabilities. 

Predictive analytics is the use of algorithms, machine learning and data mining to analyse historical data and make predictions about future events or trends. It gives organisations insight into customer behaviour and market trends. This feeds more-informed decisions, improves customer satisfaction, reduces risks and increases profitability.

Despite this, just 36% of the 1,000 survey respondents said they have deployed predictive analytics in any part of their enterprise. 

Thomas Saueressig – a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, which is responsible for SAP Product Engineering – said the survey findings reinforce what he hears from business leaders.

“Global supply chains are vulnerable to disruption, and this has far-reaching consequences for the manufacturing industry,” he says.

Manufacturers 'want to invest in Industry 4.0 solutions'

“In the conversations I have with business leaders it’s clear they see the need to invest in Industry 4.0 principles and AI to increase supply chain resilience, but many are still in the piloting stage.”

Saueressig added that SAP is “in a unique position to accelerate the journey to resilient manufacturing”. 

“We can embed intelligent capabilities in enterprise software across all end-to-end-processes,” he says. 

To help manufacturing businesses leverage Industry 4.0 technologies, SAP has embedded AI into its smart manufacturing solution, SAP Digital Manufacturing.

The company says that this will help its customers become more resilient because it gives them “AI-driven insights and AI-powered visual inspection processes”. 

SAP says the upgrade means customers can ensure defective parts are discovered early and are addressed quickly, “producing higher yield, and ready-to-deliver quality materials”. 

It adds: “The lower product defect rates result in fewer service claims and improved asset health and maintenance.”

SAP also cited a use case of its AI-enriched Digital Manufacturing solution.

Smart Press Shop is a joint venture of Porsche and Schuler, a leading sheet-metal manufacturer. SAP said the companies have “reached a new milestone in automotive production” by using AI embedded in SAP Digital Manufacturing. 

SAP says Smart Press Shop can now “assess the quality of materials in real time and adjust machine performance to improve downstream processes in logistics and operations”.

Smart Press Shop CEO Hendrik Rothe said: “With the help of SAP solutions we were able to build a system landscape based on the principles of Industry 4.0, such as self-optimising production, end-to-end traceability and resource-saving production.

“The solutions enable us to process data in real time, to handle our entire production without paper, and ultimately to make all our processes transparent. This gives us flexibility, and means we’re well-positioned for the future.”


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