Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Manufacturers prioritize digital transformation, says Zebra Technologies report

July 2, 2024
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Zebra Technologies Corporation recently published the findings of its 2024 Manufacturing Vision Study. According to the study, 61 percent of manufacturers expect AI to drive growth by 2029. This is up from 41 percent in 2024. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents also prioritized digital transformation. Zebra notes these trends emphasize manufacturers’ intent to improve data management and leverage new technologies that enhance visibility and quality throughout the manufacturing process.

Zebra Technologies explains in a press statement that while digital transformation is a priority for manufacturers, achieving it is full of obstacles. This includes the cost and availability of labour, scaling technology solutions and the convergence of information technology and operational technology (IT/OT).

Zebra Technologies also adds that visibility is the first step to transformation. The adoption of AI and other new technologies enables manufacturers to leverage data more effectively to identify, react and prioritize problems and projects so they can deliver incremental efficiencies across the manufacturing process that can net the greatest impact upfront.

“Manufacturers struggle with using their data effectively so they recognize they must adopt AI and other digital technology solutions to create an agile, efficient manufacturing environment,” said Enrique Herrera, industry principal for manufacturing at Zebra Technologies.

As per the report, only 16 percent of manufacturing leaders globally report they have real-time, work-in-progress (WIP) monitoring across the entire manufacturing process.

While nearly six in 10 manufacturing leaders expect to increase visibility across production and throughout the supply chain by 2029, one-third say getting IT and OT to agree on where to invest is a key barrier to digital transformation. Adding to these obstacles, 86 percent of manufacturing leaders agree they are struggling to keep up with the pace of technological innovation and to securely integrate devices, sensors, and technologies throughout their facilities and supply chain.

The Zebra Technologies study also found that manufacturers are shifting their growth strategies by integrating and augmenting workers with AI and other technologies to transform manufacturing and build a skilled workforce over the next five years. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of manufacturing leaders plan to reskill labour to enhance data and technology usage skills. Seven in 10 expect to augment workers with mobility-enabling technology. The technology tools being implemented by manufacturing leaders include tablets (51 percent), mobile computers (55 percent) and workforce management software (56 percent). In addition, 61 percent of manufacturing leaders plan to leverage wearable mobile computers to augment their evolving workforce.

Manufacturing leaders across the C-Suite, information technology (IT), and operational technology (OT) understand how labour initiatives must extend beyond improving worker efficiency and productivity with technology. Six in 10 leaders rank ongoing development, retraining/upskilling and career path development to attract future talent as a high priority for their organizations.

The quest for quality has intensified as manufacturers across segments must do more with fewer resources. According to the survey, global manufacturing leaders say today’s most significant quality management issues are real-time visibility (33 percent), keeping up with new standards and regulations (29 percent), integrating data (27 percent), and maintaining traceability (27 percent).

Manufacturing leaders’ technology implementation plans will address these challenges. Over the next five years, many plan to implement robotics (65 percent), machine vision (66 percent), radio frequency identification (RFID) (66 percent), and fixed industrial scanners (57 percent). Most manufacturing leaders agree these automation solutions are driven by a variety of factors including the need to provide the workforce with high-value tasks (70 percent), achieve service level agreements (69 percent), and add more flexibility to the plant floor (64 percent).

Regional insights:

  • In North America, 68 percent of manufacturing leaders rank deploying workforce development programs as their most important labour initiative.
  • In APAC, while only 30 percent of manufacturing leaders use machine vision across the plant floor, 67 percent are implementing or planning to deploy this technology within the next five years.
  • In EMEA, reskilling labour to enhance data and technology usage skills is the top-ranked workforce strategy for manufacturing leaders to drive growth today (46 percent) and in five years (71 percent).
  • In Latin America, while only 24 percent of manufacturing leaders rely on track and trace technology, 74 percent are implementing or plan to implement the technology in the next five years.

Print this page


Story continue below