Industrial digitalisation – figures, data, facts

Digitalisation has been a hot topic for years. Here, you can find out in which areas the greatest potentials are expected, what the economic prospects are, what companies think about digitalisation and which challenges need to be addressed.

Heterogeneous digitalisation

According to a study by the VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau – Mechanical Engineering Industry Association), the degree of digitalisation in mechanical engineering depends to a large extent on the specific field of application. The areas Enterprise Resource Planning as well as Finance and Accounting are almost entirely digitalised. The situation is different in engineering itself, where 87 % of all companies use IT systems for M-CAD (Mechanical CAD). The corresponding figure for E-CAD (Electrical CAD) is 75 %. Tool management and machine data recording are in the midfield with 58 % and 47 %. Translation management and business process management are far behind. Here, only 28 % of companies rely on IT systems. Large differences also exist between companies of different sizes. For example, 66 % of companies with less than 300 employees do not yet have an IT strategy, while only 20 % and 11 % respectively of medium-sized and larger companies have an IT strategy.

Lots of work ahead

The top five areas in which companies are investing the most in digitalisation are electronic catalogues and web shops, business analytics, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), manufacturing execution systems as well as service and customer service. According to a PwC survey, the willingness to invest is widespread in the industry. For example, 91 % of all industrial companies invest in digital manufacturing. It is therefore fitting that only 6 % of the companies surveyed regard their production as completely digitalised. The greatest challenges for the entrepreneurs are seen in the corporate culture and the reservations of the workforce towards innovative digital technologies. In addition, the interviewees attest that the current school education fails to prepare graduates to work in a digital environment.

A laptop standing in a factory.

Digitalisation pays off

Digitalisation holds a number of technical and economic potentials. According to the PwC study, companies hope for higher production efficiency and the ability to respond more quickly and individually to customer requests, better scalability of production volumes and an improved environmental footprint. Half of the companies surveyed expect an ROI (Return on Investment) within the first five years. 43 % of companies even expect an ROI in less than five years. According to the projection, this will also have a positive effect on employees in the form of higher salaries. It should be emphasised that around 75 % of those surveyed believe that digital manufacturing executed directly in the target market’s region will bring greater benefits than production in distant low-wage countries.

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Technologies differently prioritised

A number of technologies are often mentioned in connection with digitalisation. However, their importance is assessed differently according to the VDMA survey. For example, 60 % of the study participants consider cloud solutions in mechanical engineering to be important or very important. IoT platforms follow closely with 50 %. The situation with apps is more heterogeneous. Here, only 19 % see a high importance, 60 % state that they see a medium to low importance for the topic. Only 21 % say that apps will have no relevance for them. The situation is similar in the area of mixed reality, virtual reality and augmented reality. Only 20 % see a high degree of importance, while half of the respondents attest a low to medium significance. The same results are seen for the topic Big Data. Autonomous technologies are ranked last. More than half of the interviewees do not consider these solutions relevant.

Digital Twin – the foundation for digitalisation

With such a large and complex topic like digitalisation, many companies are faced with the question of the first steps. PwC finds a very clear answer: the digital twin is the basis of all digitalisation projects. This makes it the basis for digital core technologies such as remote maintenance, predictive maintenance or data-driven process optimisation. The study also sees the digital twin as the foundation of efficient workflows in planning. A holistic engineering software that can achieve this, such as Engineering Base (EB) by Aucotec, therefore, is the basis for all further digitalisation projects. It is thus hardly surprising that, according to PwC, four out of ten companies plan to create a digital twin within the next five years.

About the authors

Our editorial team consists of Aucotec employees supported by the technical copywriters of our press agency. Together we keep you updated on the latest trends in the industry and show how Aucotec can facilitate your engineering.

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