INDIANAPOLIS – Conexus Indiana, in partnership with Indiana University Kelley School of Business Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, released a study today that shows Indiana advanced manufacturing and logistics companies are in various stages of adopting smart manufacturing technologies and identifies a path forward to help spur widespread technology adoption among Indiana manufacturers of all sizes. Without widespread adoption of advanced technologies, study authors say, Indiana risks falling behind increasingly tougher global competition.

“Charting Indiana’s Path from Early Adoption to Widespread Application of Industry 4.0 Technologies,” available here, surveyed 380 Indiana advanced manufacturing and logistics companies from a wide cross-section of businesses across the state.

Industry 4.0 is the move toward smart manufacturing where autonomous technologies, smart systems and data and machine learning promise to significantly improve manufacturing operations. Industry 4.0 technologies include Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, cloud computing, big data and analytics, advanced modeling, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous machines and more.

“Industry 4.0 investments in technology and automation as well as workforce development are indispensable to Indiana’s competitiveness,” said Mark Frohlich, associate professor of operations management at Indiana University Kelley School of Business at IUPUI and director of the Gregg and Sabine Sherrill Center of Excellence in Manufacturing. “Our study results show that Indiana companies are on a path toward technology deployment, but far from where the state needs to be to continue to lead the nation. While Indiana’s companies have risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19, hopefully this pandemic will soon be behind us. With an eye towards that future, it’s critical that Hoosier manufacturers keep implementing the Industry 4.0 strategies and technologies that are going to help ensure our state’s prosperity for many decades to come.”

Overall, the report revealed that larger, more established Hoosier manufacturers are most likely to have a plan and budget to implement Industry 4.0, while small-to medium-size companies adopt technologies sporadically without dedicated budgets and detailed plans to foster enterprise-wide adoption.

The survey was completed on the same day that Indiana reported its first COVID-19 case. In the months that followed, numerous Indiana manufacturers swiftly deployed resources and technologies to shift production from automotive parts to ventilator assembly and face masks and other personal protective equipment, proving that the pandemic may be the turning point that accelerates digital transformation.

“The report is encouraging and highlights the bright spots in Indiana where Industry 4.0 is becoming standard operating procedure,” said Mitch Landess, vice president of innovation and digital transformation at Conexus Indiana. “Companies that are adopting new technologies are recognizing the increase in productivity and quality even if they don’t have budget set aside and a detailed plan for implementation. This indicates companies are on the right path toward smart manufacturing and that there is opportunity for wide-spread technology adoption.”

The survey revealed the profile of companies that are adopting Industry 4.0, and identified the most beneficial technologies, technology adoption drivers, barriers to adoption and Industry 4.0’s impact on the workforce.

Key findings include:

Profile of companies adopting Industry 4.0  

  • Sixteen percent of companies surveyed said they are budgeting for digital transformation. Of those companies with a dedicated budget, most are large, mature companies as measured by workforce, age and revenue.
  • Large companies are also more likely to have a plan for adopting Industry 4.0 leading to enterprise-wide adoption, while smaller and mid-size companies may not have a plan for technology adoption but are using advanced technologies as needs arise.

Most beneficial technologies

  • The top five technologies that companies said are most beneficial to increase productivity and accuracy include cybersecurity, cloud computing, sensor technology, additive manufacturing (3D printing) and big data and analytics.

Technology drivers

  • The top three reasons companies adopt – or are considering adopting – new technologies are to:
    • Enhance/optimize productivity
    • Eliminate/reduce errors
    • Improve customer experience

Barriers to adoption

  • Most small companies say the biggest barrier to adopting Industry 4.0 is a lack of a dedicated budget while larger companies find it challenging to incorporate Industry 4.0 into their existing manufacturing systems.

Workforce impact

  • Most companies say that they are not replacing workers with advanced technologies, but indicate workers’ jobs will change and evolve.

With these survey results, Conexus Indiana will continue to work to help identify funding streams and pathways for small and medium sized manufacturers to access funds to take their first steps with Industry 4.0. This includes the manufacturing readiness program established in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to provide matching grants of up to $200,000 to companies committing to modernizing their operations or integrating smart technologies.

Conexus Indiana also will elevate the conversation about Industry 4.0, share Industry 4.0 best practices and identify ways to ensure talent development programs upskill talent for Industry 4.0 technologies.

The study is available for download here.

About Conexus Indiana

For more than a decade, Conexus Indiana, one of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) non-profit initiatives, has been positioning the Hoosier State as the best place for advanced manufacturing and logistics industries to invest, employ and succeed. By collaborating with industry, academic and public sector partners on a shared vision for an innovative, skilled workforce and stronger business climate, Conexus Indiana has helped to create opportunities for advanced manufacturing and logistics companies, prepare Hoosiers to succeed in the state’s largest industry sectors and maintain Indiana’s competitive advantage. For more information, go to