Ireland’s Future Manufacturing Industry
The manufacturing industry in Ireland is a crucial component in the Irish economy. In terms of employment, the sector employs 159,000 people between 4,000 manufacturers across Ireland. In addition to being the second largest employer in Ireland, the manufacturing industry has a net export figure of over €45bn and is an important source of revenue for the country.
In 2016, Ibec launched the Irish Manufacturers Association (IMA) with an ambition for Ireland to have an international reputation for manufacturing across all key sectors through sharing best practise, developing deeper cross sectoral collaboration, choosing policies that strengthen our workforce and addressing business costs. The Irish Manufacturers Association (IMA) is an umbrella association drawing from Ibec’s Food and Drink, Pharmachemical, Medical Technology, ICT, Software, Plastics and Engineering sectors to engage with industry and government. One of the main areas of focus for the IMA association is ‘The Factory of the Future’.
There is an awareness within the industry of how important advancements in technology are and more importantly, the adoption of new technologies, for continued growth in the industry.
One key aspect of the ever-evolving manufacturing industry is the adoption of automation. Industry 4.0 is the direction of manufacturing globally. Industry 4.0 uses technologies such as digital fabrication, the Internet of Things, cognitive and cloud computing, robotics and artificial intelligence to make manufacturing “smarter”.
Currently, Industry 4.0 has been adopted by 35% of companies, in five years it is said to rise to 76%. The future of manufacturing is heavily rooted in investment and developments in technology and Ireland is shaping itself to be at the forefront of this industry. The implementation of Industry 4.0 in Ireland will be aided by the developments of assisting industries like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a more dominant force in the manufacturing industry and the global economy. According to a research study from Microsoft, within the next three years, 75% of executives said that their companies will implement artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence industry itself is developing, with 61% working within that space having received funding.
AI is not bound on just the manufacturing industry. Global robotic specialists have built a humanoid robot that can move, listen and interact with humans. With the ability to ‘amplify our brainpower’, this robot powered by IBM Watson is also set to revolutionise other data-heavy sectors, including telecommunications, oil & gas, education and professional services.
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