Global Surveys on Industrial Autonomy

Yokogawa conducted global surveys on the advancement of industrial autonomy with companies in seven key process industries and received responses from over 500 decision makers for each. Keep reading to see what we found out.

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The Acceleration of Industrial Autonomy
- Global Survey 2021

Yokogawa undertook an in-depth industry study in 2021 with 534 respondents from 390 companies across seven global markets and seven industry sectors to gain further insights into the current and future state of industrial autonomy.


Environmental sustainability is a factor

45% of the respondents from manufacturing companies anticipate that industrial autonomy will have a significant impact on environmental sustainability in the areas of dynamic energy optimization, water management, and emissions reduction. In contrast, only 6% expect industrial autonomy to have no impact at all on environmental sustainability.

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Deployment of industrial autonomy is accelerating

The implementation of industrial autonomy projects is starting to gather pace, with 51% of the manufacturers surveyed now scaling deployment across multiple facilities and business functions and another 19% reporting they have full deployment in at least one facility or business function.

While productivity improvements in production and manufacturing processes are expected to deliver the highest return on investment (ROI) in digital transformation over the next three years – with 31% ranking this area first and a further 20% ranking it second – health, safety and environment is emerging as a key area of ROI, with 26% ranking it first (13%) or second (13%).

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Decision-makers and COVID-19

C-level executives play a key role in plant-level autonomous planning, with the survey respondents saying that the CEO (38%), CTO (34%), and CIO (31%) are the primary final decision-makers. These decision-makers are supported by senior level technical professionals, with 43% saying the Chief Digital Officer has significant influence on plant level autonomy decisions.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, increasing remote operations capabilities represents a key factor in industrial autonomy. The survey reveals that one-third (33%) of manufacturers are deploying remote operations in single sites and 31% are implementing them across multi-sites in connection to industrial autonomy.

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2021 survey ebook cover

For more insights, please find the 2021 survey report here. 


The Outlook for the Shift to Industrial Autonomy
- Global Survey 2020

From robots and quantum computing to digital twins and AI, new technologies are revolutionizing the way that plants operate. They are facilitating a shift whereby physical tasks and decision-making processes are being made more autonomous with the aim of improving productivity and worker safety. In today’s business environment, operational resilience has never been more important.

The race to level 5

By 2030, a majority of companies expect to have autonomous operations

Yokogawa commissioned global research on the advancement of industrial autonomy amongst companies in seven key process industries. 500 respondents provided an in-depth view of future trends in automation and autonomy, the business objectives they are targeting, and the technologies they are implementing to meet those objectives.

The key takeaway is the rapid ramp up in expectations for what we define as Level 5, fully autonomous operations, with just 1% of respondents anticipating they will see this in 2020, and this figure rising to 19% for 2023, and 64% for 2030. This trend is common across all industries. In addition, only 7% responded that they had no plans to introduce some form of industrial autonomy.

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Contributing to a range of business objectives

Improved productivity and operations efficiency are the key targets

So, what is behind this fundamental shift from manual and automated operations to autonomy? 48% of respondents ranked productivity improvements and 40% named operations efficiency as top priorities for digital transformation. Quality management, energy management, and worker safety also ranked highly.

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The technologies that will reshape operations

Cloud, AI, sensors, and 5G are investment priorities

Industrial autonomy affects both decision-making processes and physical tasks, and will require a range of emerging technologies. 42% of respondents are making significant investments in AI over the next 3 years. 40% said they are doing the same for intelligent sensors and devices. And 29% are making significant investments in quantum computing. The technologies of tomorrow are being invested in today in the push for greater autonomy.

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COVID-19 will be a driver of medium-term investment

Following a tough 2020, it will press the accelerator on autonomy

From its impact on the economy to the move toward unmanned systems and the renewed emphasis on worker safety, the COVID-19 pandemic is set to reshape our plants. As companies count the costs of an absent workforce, a well-designed autonomous system will bring the benefits of remote operations and safer working environments. 54% of respondents expect to increase their autonomy investment over the next 3 years as a direct result of COVID-19.

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Learn More

2020 survey report cover

For more insights, please find the 2020 survey report here. 

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