Manufacturers have been focused on becoming more resilient as pandemic-related issues continue to disrupt production and supply chains. But moving forward, manufacturers cannot simply focus on a return to?the pre-pandemic normal. Digitalization and modernization of facilities is fostering a renaissance in industrial companies.  

To that end, Meraki collaborated with IndustryWeek, a U.S.-based publication specializing in manufacturing, to assess how this modernization is tracking. We sponsored a global survey with a focus on digitalizing physical spaces, which included nearly 160 respondents at the manager level in information technology and operational and customer support roles.  

Drivers for modernizing spaces

What is driving manufacturers to focus on spaces? Creating a more productive, safe, and healthy manufacturing industry has been an ongoing leadership priority for years. Additionally, the pandemic and its lasting effects have only stressed the importance of modernizing workplaces and accelerated progress. 

These priorities were reflected in our survey results. Providing safe environments for their workforce is a primary driver of manufacturers’ smart space journey. More than one-third indicated that protecting employees and spaces, monitoring compliance, and securely connecting from anywhere matters most. 

How can manufacturers create smarter and safer spaces?

As many manufacturers work to update their legacy architectures, they recognize an opportunity to future-proof their organizations. By combining Internet of Things (IoT) devices, advanced networking, and analytics within physical spaces, manufacturers can modernize to gain a competitive advantage. 

Here are a few ways manufacturers can make their spaces smarter:

  • Environmental sensors and smart cameras can help automate security enforcement so only the right people and devices are allowed access to restricted areas. They can also automate alerts when workers and staff are not complying with personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, such as masks or hard hats, or occupancy requirements.
  • Wi-Fi 6, smart cameras, and sensors can help manage inventory levels, track assets, monitor contractors, and locate tools and mobile equipment to keep production moving.
  • Smart cameras enable smart mustering or worker–down alerts, enabling safer emergency evacuations, and can detect the impact of falls in hazardous zones.
  • Environmental sensors and smart cameras can help facility operators achieve sustainability targets by better managing energy, protecting critical equipment and assets, and creating a more comfortable environment for the workforce.

Why act now

Manufacturers must incorporate more automation and reduce complexity to better manage networks across distributed sites, address labor shortages, and ensure greater agility as environmental conditions change—in short, to remain competitive.

Digitalization and modernization mean more devices are connected to the factory network, creating an opportunity for manufacturers to leverage IoT technologies and data in new ways to reduce downtime, costs, and uncertainty.

To learn more about how manufacturers are approaching their smart spaces journey, please join us for a sponsored webinar with IndustryWeek. We’ll discuss the results of our recent research study and real-world smart space applications in manufacturing environments.