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  7. US Manufacturers Are Failing to Effectively Leverage Smart Factory Technologies

US Manufacturers Are Failing to Effectively Leverage Smart Factory Technologies

Fujitsu America Inc.

News facts:
  • Less than a third of US manufacturers have succeeded so far in using smart factory data in business decision-making
  • Most projects still in early stages, however 46 percent have enjoyed ROI, one quarter within a year and more than half in less than three years
  • Smart factory initiatives are a key strategic objective for most US manufacturers, reflected in plans for the same or increased investment by 97 percent of businesses
Sunnyvale, CA, November 05, 2019

Two in three US manufacturers are missing an opportunity to use insights generated by smart factories to enhance decision making, according to new study results published today by Fujitsu. Despite a widespread consensus about the return on investment from the use of smart factory tech, the majority of manufacturers are yet to leverage its full benefits.

Findings from a survey conducted for Fujitsu by leading European technology research organization teknowlogy|PAC1 confirm that most manufacturers are still in the early stages of digital transformation. With the manufacturing sector currently undergoing an economic downturn, smart manufacturing could provide the impetus for growth – with 91 percent of manufacturers who have implemented the technology reporting positive results within three years.

Ranging from the Internet of Things and cloud computing to artificial intelligence, smart factory technologies help enhance efficiency and profitability, for example by enabling the efficient mass customization of products, and by using predictive maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime.

Paul Bresnahan, Head of Manufacturing Industry, Fujitsu America, Inc. said: “Despite increased availability of smart factory technology that can provide invaluable, actionable insights, we found that only 28 percent of US manufacturers incorporate this technology in business decision making. But this is rapidly changing; 36 percent plan to begin taking advantage of this technology within three years. What we found is that there are several factors necessary to bring about a true manufacturing revolution – lower cost of entry for adopting this technology, while reducing its complexity and making it easier to analyze the data. Despite current challenges, the benefits are clear. Companies expect to improve product quality, support digital transformation, and enable easier and more efficient customization of products after undergoing smart factory transformation.”

Despite low widespread adoption, there is clear recognition within the manufacturing industry regarding the potential of smart factory technologies. Almost three fourths (72 percent) of companies plan to increase investments in the next three years, and less than two in 50 companies plans to reduce its budget in this area.

Smart factory projects are still very early on in their smart factory journeys: 33 percent are still in the planning stage, while (28 percent) are running some early pilots and 23 percent have live implementations that are delivering business benefits.

Most companies consider smart factories to be a key strategic objective
Fujitsu expects smart factory implementations to grow rapidly, since most companies consider smart factory initiatives to be a key strategic objective: 55 percent rate its importance between 7/10 and 9/10. However, technology implementations are complex and the majority of businesses are still in the early phases of implementation. Today, only 16 percent of businesses consider their smart manufacturing implementations to be at an advanced stage.

Despite this relative immaturity, businesses are reporting an encouraging return on investment. Not only have 46 percent of projects achieved ROI, but the returns have been rapid. Of manufacturers that have seen benefits, over a quarter (26 percent) this occurred within less than a year, while for 65 percent, it took between one and three years.

“What we’re seeing is a mindset shift among customers; oftentimes, they’re demanding bespoke products, as opposed to mass-produced goods. Essentially, manufacturers now have to able to produce a lot size of one – at the same price point. In fact, one takeaway from our recent survey suggest that the number one external goal of Smart Factory strategies is to improve customer satisfaction. Just as importantly, nearly half of survey respondents believe to see improved supply chain management, while almost 40% expect to be able to better monitor and manage products after they leave the plant. Clearly, benefits like these are enormous, but they will require a sea change in how manufacturers approach their operation. Specifically, they need to plan and deploy smart factory solutions quickly and accurately to stay ahead of the competition. Fujitsu has the know-how to make it happen and the vision to make it succeed.”

The survey found that the main challenges in implementing smart manufacturing were purchase cost and building the business case (both 60 percent), the lack of skilled staff (53 percent) and cost of implementation and management of Smart Factory (43 percent). To tackle these challenges, early adopters are working with software firms (96 percent) and analytics experts (93 percent).

Notes to editors
1 teknowlogy | PAC, part of the teknowlogy Group, surveyed IT and OT decision-makers at 100 manufacturing companies in the U.S. with more than 500 employees, which have at least some Smart Factory initiatives in place. The study was conducted in May and June 2019. More information can be found here:

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About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 132,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.0 trillion yen (US $36 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. For more information, please see

About Fujitsu Americas

Fujitsu America, Inc. is the parent and/or management company of a group of Fujitsu-owned companies operating in North, Central and South America dedicated to delivering the full range of Fujitsu products, solutions and services in ICT to our customers in the Western Hemisphere. These companies are collectively referred to as Fujitsu Americas. Fujitsu enables clients to meet their business objectives through integrated offerings and solutions, including consulting, systems integration, managed services, outsourcing and cloud services for infrastructure, platforms and applications; data center and field services; and server, storage, software and mobile/tablet technologies. For more information, please visit: and

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Date: November 05, 2019
City: Sunnyvale, CA
Company: Fujitsu America, Inc.