This year’s “Key Technology Trends” report was influenced by the combination of continued supply chain issues, worker shortages, high inflation, geo-political conflicts, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in certain geographies. It was a year when industrial markets, despite slower growth, declines in stock valuations, and fears of recession, did not typically suffer from demand problems but were often impacted by supply chain issues and the ability to find both skilled and unskilled workers to fill many open positions. This drastically shifted the need for industrial companies to respond in real time to supply chain issues and use technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous operations, to fill the void for missing workers, as well as provide productivity tools to existing workers that are often lacking in experience but comfortable using technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This has led companies who are deploying these technologies to become more agile and flexible, sometimes needing to, for example, redesign their products and manufacturing work processes in real time to respond to changes in the supply chain. The result of this will create demand for technologies that ARC feels will grow more mainstream in 2023 and beyond, helping industrial companies increase their revenue and profits as well as their sustainability and operational resilience.
New digital transformation technologies used to augment people and processes across the manufacturing industries, in the edge, cloud, etc., combined with artificial intelligence (AI), are changing the way people work and how companies perform. AI-enabled solutions are a major component of digital transformation, which touches industrial products, operations, value chains, and aftermarket services. This transformation is enabled by augmenting people and knowledge through the expanded use of IIoT sensors, current and historical data, and predictive and prescriptive analytics. While AI is currently being used for advanced data analytics and to generate new insights predictions, prognostics, or recommendations, ARC Advisory Group sees this technology playing a greater role that significantly impacts everything from workflows to production efficiency.
In last year’s Key Technology Trends report, we focused on trends which include meta-machine interface, the convergence of HMI with AR/VR; real-time smart supply chain solutions; AIoT Solutions, the convergence of artificial intelligence and IIoT; smart safety solutions that increase productivity and resilience; and virtual commissioning converging with digital twin; all of which continued to gain acceptance. For this year, in no particular 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 report will almost certainly make an impact on industry and infrastructure in 2023, building upon the demands created for companies to thrive in a world where the only certainty is uncertainty.
Growth in Virtualized and Edge Control Applications Leads to “Industrial-Control-as-a-Service”
There is little question that the influence on future automation architectures caused by the accelerated convergence and in some cases fusing together of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) will be tremendous. More and more critical functions are becoming software-based, hardware is becoming more standardized and commoditized, and virtualization is consolidating software on hardware. The industrial edge is integrating classic automation systems to become Edge Automation Platforms, which will make these applications become more IT-like with the convergence of OT and IT at the edge. Edge Automation Platforms create an IT environment that is often lacking in traditional automation systems.
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Keywords: Technology Trends, Virtualization, Edge Control, Services, Digital Thread, IT, OT, Enterprise Visualization, No Code-Low Code, Operational Resilience, ARC Advisory Group.