PwC: digital factories shaping the future of manufacturing

By Georgia Wilson
Manufacturing Global gains further insight into how digital factories are shaping the future of manufacturing. Digitalisation - a constant trend drivin...

Manufacturing Global gains further insight into how digital factories are shaping the future of manufacturing. 

Digitalisation - a constant trend driving change within the manufacturing industry. The concept of a digital factory is challenging companies to implement innovative technology, and look for employees with different fundamental skills required in a traditional company. 

Within the region leading manufacturers are deploying a number of key emerging technologies including:

  • Big data analytics solutions

  • End-to-end, real time planning and connectivity

  • Autonomous systems

  • Digital twins

  • Worker augmentation

These technologies are providing significant value within the industry in terms of efficiency and customisation. However PwC states that the full effect of digitalisation can only be realised when companies are connected in real-time to suppliers and critical customers.

PwC recent research shows that leading industrial companies are moving beyond the pilot stage and are now ready to invest in rolling out these digital solutions. 


Key finds from the PwC report:

Digital factories at the top of the Agenda

PwC’s survey reports that 91% of industrial companies are investing in digital factories, however only 6% rate their factories as ‘fully digitised’.

Digital supports customer centricity and regional manufacturing

75% of industrial company participants highlighted regional manufacturing for better customer proximity, individualisation and flexibility as the main reason for further investing in their digital factories.

Digital factories on the rise

93% of respondents plan to further invest in digital factories which will be located in Germany over the next five years. While 75% are planning to set up new or expand their existing digital factories in Germany and Western Europe.

Digital factories are a strategic investment

Almost 50% expect a return on investment (ROI) from their digital operations within the next five years, while only 3% expect a ROI within one year.

Expected efficiency gains in the next five years

98% of participants named efficiency as the main reason for investing in digital factories, with an expectation to see an efficiency gain of 12% over the next five years.


Connecting factories internally and externally, through an integrated manufacturing execution system (MES) is the first step to digitalisations. In order to see the most benefits these systems need to be integrated with an ERP infrastructure to digitise across the entire supply chain.

Leaner and more productive operations

Digital technologies such as cobots, digital twins and augmented reality are helping organisations get more done, faster, and improving processes and product quality. PwC predicts that implementations of these technologies will double in the next five years.

Smart decision making

Driving digital factories forward is the use of artificial intelligence and data analytics, over 50% of companies are using smart algorithms to make better operational decisions. This form of technology will be a ‘must-have’ among future digital factories in order to stay competitive.

A digital workforce

With innovation comes new ways of working, as a result workforces will need to change and companies will need to recruit and retain employees accordingly.

Leaders of digital transformation

In order to implement a successful digital transformation, top management must lead and provide guidance.

To read the full PwC report, Digital Factories 2020: shaping the future of manufacturing, click here!

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Image source: PwC


Featured Articles

Brooke Weddle: Manufacturing Needs A Rebrand

Brooke Weddle, senior partner at Mckinsey, sat down with Manufacturing Digital to discuss methods to address manufacturing's global hiring crisis

Immensa and Intaj Suhar partner to boost Omani manufacturing

MENA’s leading digital manufacturer Immensa has partnered with Intaj Suhar to enhance Oman’s localised manufacturing through digital inventory solutions

Bain & Company Report: OEMs and Digital Transformation

Bain & Company report urges original equipment manufacturers to embrace digital solutions and shift to a customer-focused mindset to stay competitive

The Factory of the Future: Manufacturers' Biggest Challenges

Smart Manufacturing

Dassault Systèmes Bring AR Manufacturing Showcase to London

Smart Manufacturing

Join Belden for a Free Webinar on Connected Plant Floor Data

Production & Operations