The problem with forecasts is that they predict future happenings based on past trends. Although this is not a bad approach, there are cases when outcomes do not follow proven patterns and, instead, something totally unexpected happens.
There has been much in the press about self-driving cars and how the logic built into these vehicles may adhere to traffic rules but may have trouble in the real world. The same applies to robots used in manufacturing plants and limits their use much the same way that the need to recognize the possibility of unpredictable human behavior.
Automation continues to be a very significant factor in the loss of manufacturing jobs but there is still ample opportunity for workers to acclimate and thrive, as long as people are willing and able to change. Otherwise, it is likely that their earning potentials will unfortunately fall down the ravine of the U-shaped labor market.
Digital manufacturing is a strategy. Ideally, this comprehensive strategy for managing and sharing engineering data — product definitions, bills of materials (BOM), engineering specifications, etc. — through the entire product lifecycle can be valuable for design improvement, product support and logistics.