Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Rockwell Automation’s global state of manufacturing report reveals impact of emerging technologies

March 26, 2024
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Rockwell Automation shared the results of its 9th annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report.

The global study reportedly surveyed more than 1,500 manufacturers across 17 manufacturing countries.

Rockwell Automation noted that this year’s report reveals a focus on harnessing new and emerging technologies to build resiliency, improve quality, maximize workforce potential, and drive sustainable growth.

“A skilled workforce is the cornerstone of any successful manufacturing operation, but attracting, managing and retaining workers is proving to be an ongoing challenge,” said Cyril Perducat, senior vice-president and chief technology officer of Rockwell Automation. “The survey found technology alone is not the answer. To remain competitive, manufacturers need to focus their staff on embracing new technology as a core part of their evolving organizational culture, creating a technology/worker partnership that drives their business forward.”

Key global findings include:

  • AI ranks as the top capability that manufacturers believe will drive the biggest business outcomes. 83 percent of manufacturers expect to use generative AI (GenAI) in their operations in 2024.
  • 95 percent of manufacturers are using or evaluating smart manufacturing technology – up from 84 percent in 2023.
  • 94 percent of manufacturers plan to maintain or grow their workforce due to smart manufacturing technology adoption, with a heavy focus on repurposing workers to new or different roles and/or hiring more workers.
  • Change management is the leading workforce-related obstacle for manufacturers in 2024.
  • Manufacturers cite “improved quality” as the top positive outcome they hope to achieve from existing smart manufacturing technology for a second consecutive year. Additionally, “quality control” ranks as the top AI/Machine Learning use case in 2024.
  • For the first time, cybersecurity is listed as one of the top five external risks for manufacturers in 2024, ranking third overall.
  • Energy management is the factor that matters most to manufacturers’ sustainability/ESG programs.

“The workforce of 2019 is not coming back,” said Allison Kuhn, principal analyst, LNS Research. “Developing a sustainable workforce strategy is critical to successfully navigate daunting manufacturing challenges. Leaders are winning the war for talent by embracing this new reality and with a laser focus on three imperatives: 1) Total Employee Experience, 2) Servant Leadership, and 3) Connected Frontline Workforce (CFW) Applications.”

Manufacturers continue to face a significant challenge: combining people, processes, and technology to drive long-term business growth and resilience. According to the report, around one-third of manufacturing leaders cite “matching technology and talent to business need” and “effectively managing people and resources” as the biggest obstacles their organizations face over the next year. 


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