Nokia and ABI Research identify key trends in manufacturing investment to enable Industry 4.0


Nokia has partnered with ABI Research, an independent research firm, to survey more than 600 manufacturing decision-makers to assess investment strategies related to 4G/LTE, 5G, and Industry 4.0.

The survey found that 74% of respondents are looking to upgrade their communications and control networks by the end of 2022 with more than 90% investigating the use of either 4G and/or 5G in their operations. Just over half of respondents (52%) believe that the latest generation of 4G/LTE and 5G will be necessary to meet their transformational goals.

The research also identified key business use cases that would drive investment in 4G or 5G. Respondents reflected the need to digitalize and improve existing infrastructure (63%), automation with robotics (51%), and achieve new levels of employee productivity (42%).

Manish Gulyani, Vice President Marketing, Nokia Enterprise said: “We have reached an inflection point in Industry 4.0 transformation as the fast, secure, low latency connectivity underpinning its implementation now becomes available. This research indicates the strong marketplace appetite for industrial-grade wireless networking to capture the transformational benefits of digitalization and automation. We believe that demand, combined with easy-to-deploy private wireless solutions, will drive adoption.”

The research examined near-term drivers influencing buying decisions for new industrial systems across IT (information technology) and OT (operations technology). IT drivers primarily focus on reducing downtime (53%), improving operations efficiency (42%), and enhancing security (36%). In comparison, OT drivers reflect a desire to replace aging infrastructure (43%), improve efficiency (40%), and increase capacity (38%).

Further highlights indicate:

  • 88% of respondents stated that they were familiar with private wireless (4G/5G) networking
  • 84% that are considering 4G/5G will deploy their own local private wireless network in their manufacturing operations
  • leading priority buying areas are automation and machine upgrades (47%), IIoT initiatives (41%), with cloud infrastructure following at (37%).

Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst, ABI Research said: “Importantly, research findings indicate a preference for deploying private fully-owned and operated​ wireless networks, with manufacturers favoring in-house management to allay security concerns​. It’s evident that respondents are not entirely committed to Wi-Fi/WLAN and will consider the latest generations of wireless technologies. As a result, 2020 is a critical year for networking suppliers to educate the market regarding the merits of 4G/LTE and 5G.

“Based on this research we also observe a pan-industry need to quantify not only the potential ROI of investing in private wireless but also to clearly indicate the cost of inaction – vendors need to make the case for investing in Industry 4.0 today to gain a clear competitive advantage over those who choose to wait.”

Note to editors

Respondent data: 602 individual respondents, with various decision-making job roles across automotive (201), consumer goods (201), and machinery (200) markets. The geographic spread of respondents was U.S. (161), Germany (100), Japan (100), China (40), India (40), Australia (40), U.K. (41), Canada (40), and France (40). The survey was completed at the end of 2019, and thus before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.


India specific highlights

  • 60% of respondents believe that the latest generation of private 4G/LTE and 5G network will meet their future business-critical needs
  • 85% of the respondents are looking to upgrade their manufacturing comms/control network  in the next two years  and about 30% within the next 12 months
  • 85% of the respondents are investigating the use of either 4G/LTE or 5G in their manufacturing operations and 8%  are looking at 5G only
  • Top buying areas for industries prioritizing in next 3 years  – Equipment automation updates, IIoT initiatives, Cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure
  • 23% of respondents in India consider IIoT initiatives (sensors, devices, IoT platforms) as top buying area for their industries