Machine Design
Manufacturers, Consumers Weigh in on the IoT, Recyclability

Manufacturers, Consumers Weigh in on the IoT, Recyclability

A recent Autodesk survey took the pulse of manufacturers and consumers regarding the future of manufacturing. Topics ranged from the importance of product recyclability, to the most anticipated benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), to concerns surrounding IoT privacy. The survey provides feedback to manufacturers about consumer expectations for the future of manufacturing as it shifts toward more environmentally conscious practices and internet connectivity for products.

Recycling

Both manufacturers and consumers agree that recyclability is an important factor in product design. Nearly 60% of customers say they would be willing to pay a 10% premium for a product that can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Likewise, 61% of manufacturers agree that recyclability rates important or very important in the product-development process.

Internet Connectivity

The survey also reveals that consumers value recyclability over product Internet connectivity. Only 29% of consumers would pay the same 10% premium for a device with Internet conductivity that can be controlled remotely and send information over networks.

Despite an unwillingness to pay for it, consumers do see benefits of the IoT. Given five different aspects of the IoT, 39% of consumers responded favorably regarding the ability to control a product remotely. Next most favorable was the ability to monitor a product and personal data over time (22%), followed by the ability to update software functionality and fix bugs remotely (21%).

The other two aspects—aggregate data to help manufacturers improve products and the option to share data with friends and social networks—each rung up 9%.

Manufacturers, however, find the ability to monitor products and user data over time as the biggest benefit of the IoT. See the graph below for a comparison of manufacturers’ and consumers’ favorite aspects of the IoT.

How relevant is the IoT now?

These days, 43% of manufacturers say that they use sensors to inform consumers of product upgrades and developments. Results also showed that 60% of manufacturers expect the majority of their products to connect to the IoT over the next three years, while 16% say that it will take between 5 and 10 years for them to connect. Another 14% doubt that they will ever connect their products to the IoT.

Will the expansion of IoT affect privacy?

A degree of apathy can be seen in the bar graph regarding consumer’s feelings toward manufacturers using data from Internet-connected products to inform future R&D efforts. In fact, 58% of consumers are concerned with privacy when considering this IoT “benefit.” Manufacturers claim to be sensitive to consumers’ privacy concerns, as 58% say that privacy is an important or very important factor when offering Internet-connected products.

Concluding statement

Brian Roepke, Director of PLM and IoT, Autodesk, said, "The consumer preferences found in our survey can help guide manufacturers as they think about sustainability and IoT capabilities they design into their products—recyclability  and remote control of products rank high.  But manufacturers have to work hard to ensure that consumer privacy is protected, and they need to build in connectivity at minimal extra cost to consumers over traditionally non-connected devices."

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