Key Technology Trends for 2022

By Craig Resnick

Overview

ARC Advisory Group’s annual report on the Key Technology Trends is based on observation and assessment of the dynamic industrial landscape that is shaped by global happenings. This year’s report was again strongly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a year where markets did not typically suffer from demand problems but were often impacted by supply problems.  This drastically shifted the need for industrial companies to respond instantly to any supply chain issues and become more agile and flexible, sometimes needing to redesign their products and manufacturing work processes in real time. The result of this will create demand for technologies that ARC feels will grow more mainstream in 2022 and beyond, helping industrial companies increase their business and operational resilience as well as their sustainability.

Last year’s report focused on trends that included technology convergence morphing into technology fusion; operational resilience becoming a key objective; remote operations becoming the new normal; automated operations becoming autonomous operations; and edge computing platforms becoming edge automation platforms; all of which are poised to either enter the mainstream or – if already there – to continue to gain acceptance. All relate to the overall digital transformation of industry, infrastructure, and today’s increasingly smart cities and municipalities. For this year, in no order, here are some of the key technologies that ARC Advisory Group believes will increase in importance over the next twelve months or so. While far from a complete list, the technologies discussed in this Insight will almost certainly make an impact on industry, infrastructure, and municipalities in 2022, building upon the demands created for companies to thrive in a world where the only certainty is uncertainty.

Digital Transformation across Industries

Digital transformation is expediting the ability for physical and organizational boundaries to be broken to engage a real-time workforce, connect teams, and drive collaboration. This is driving demand for key technologies to better monitor, control and protect against failures, ensure product fulfillment and high productivity, protect and upskill personnel, and do all this while leveraging enhanced cybersecurity architectures. To meet these imperatives, industrial companies must continue to accelerate their digital transformation and deploy these key technologies, leveraging a common digital thread from engineering to operations that enables these key technologies to improve agility, reliability, and efficiency.

Meta-machine Interface, the Convergence of HMI with AR/VR

To leverage data gained through digital transformation, industrial companies must address the methods they use to deliver and consume information. The HMI visualization hardware and software used in many industrial applications is well suited for many tasks. However, within a connected digital enterprise, additional visualization tools will be needed to accommodate the special requirements of all roles, especially the remote worker. Augmented reality (AR), which is often used for maintenance applications today; and virtual reality (VR), which is often used for training and simulation applications today, offer unique capabilities that can address many of these requirements for engineers, operators, and technicians.

To realize the full potential of visualization to support digital transformation in industry in the future, AR and VR should be integrated with HMI software and become part of the meta-visualization experience. When packaged with Industrial IoT and analytics, meta-visualization tools will offer the potential to provide users with immersive experiences, real-time contextualized data, and role-related information to help users execute their daily tasks quickly, accurately, and effectively. Within the connected digital enterprise, meta-visualization can enhance the user experience, support innovation, and transform the customer interaction model to help improve the way companies design, manufacture, operate, maintain, and service their products and assets. The future success of such meta-visualization platforms will rely on integration with other enterprise software, such as product lifecycle management (PLM), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and field service management (FSM). Any meta-visualization initiative must function horizontally across these and other business groups to provide and manage tailored applications for the roles within them.

In 2022, look for the introduction of innovative solutions where these visualization technologies will start to move into a single offering, beginning with HMI software and AR on fixed, mobile, and wearable hardware.

Real-time Smart Supply Chain Solutions

Manufacturers and their supply chain managers face further risk and operational disruption as they strive to minimize their reliance upon global partners. Due to the inability of many industrial companies to deliver products that are in high demand, it is becoming increasingly critical that digital transformation becomes a top priority for supply chains as well as manufacturing operations to be competitive and operationally resilient. The pandemic further exposed global supply Technology Trends for 2022chain weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Industrial companies are realizing that traditional supply chain solutions are inadequate to compete today, and there is a real need to shift to more adaptable, agile, and intelligent supply chain tools that are fully digitally enabled.

This trend has been a major factor in the rising demand for real-time smart supply chain solutions that are not only connected to raw material and component manufacturers, but also are part of a digital thread that connects to PLM and digital twins so industrial companies can make product design and manufacturing workflow changes if alternative material and components are sourced. These real-time smart supply chain solutions are also based on predictive analytics that can also allow for on-demand manufacturing and tighter collaboration with supply chain partners.

 

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Keywords: Technology Trends, COVID-19, Digital Transformation, Supply Chain, Industrial IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), Virtual Commissioning (VC), Digital Twin, ARC Advisory Group.

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