Automation Sourcing Trends Upward With Rise of IoT


@TonyUphoff @Thomasnet, what do you see in sourcing trends related to industrial automation?

Thanks for the question. I’m Shawn Fitzgerald filling in for Tony Uphoff. Industry 4.0 is changing the game with technology such as artificial intelligence, and machines connected through the Internet of Things -- or the “IoT.”  As this happens, more manufacturers are making capital investments in automation.

We see this reflected in recent sourcing activity on the platform. Our data shows that over the past ten weeks alone, sourcing for Industrial Automation Systems Integrators is up thirty-nine percent over its historical average. In fact, last week we saw record sourcing activity in that category on our platform – up 177 percent over its historical average -- WOW! Our data also shows that over the same ten weeks, sourcing in the related categories of Robotics, and Robotic Systems Integrators, was also higher than its historical average.

Use of automation and robotics is nothing new in areas such as the automotive industry, where manufacturing requires machines that can perform repetitive, physical actions. But Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing what’s possible in process automation, as increasingly intelligent robotics makes its way onto factory floors.

As automation capabilities mature, more and more manufacturing businesses are turning to interconnected automated systems to reduce defects, while increasing scale and profit. But these aren’t simple “plug and play” solutions – every component is customized for a specific operation and function. As demand for connected systems and machines grow, demand for businesses offering Integration Services will grow accordingly. Suppliers of this equipment, software and the services that put them all together are the engine behind Industry 4.0.

As things like smart sensors, vision systems, cloud computing, and data analytics software make it possible to share intelligence throughout the manufacturing facility and the supply chain, we expect to see sourcing for automation-related equipment, software, hardware, and services to continue on an upward trend.

Adding more momentum to the trend, the industry is also seeing greater adoption of automation technologies by small and medium businesses. Chris Englert of Industrial Indexing Systems near Rochester, New York told us that while customers for his company’s motion control solutions are still larger organizations, today he sees an increase in requests by customers from smaller businesses. These are often companies ready to embrace the benefits of automation, but who may not have the in-house engineering capabilities required to make it happen." 

Moving forward, the future looks bright for the industry. The International Trade Association sees global demand growth in categories such as Sensors & Monitoring Instruments, Electric Motors and Actuators, Electrical Relays & Industrial Control Equipment, Material Handling Equipment, and Industrial Robots. In fact, according to the International Federation of Robotics, installation of new industrial robots in worldwide factories will top 1.4 million by 2019.

This growth is all good news for the U.S. economy, as we’re one of the world’s top three producers of industrial automation equipment.

So that’s what we’re seeing this week.

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