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Lack of Technology, Skilled Workforce Hinders Competitiveness for 40% of Manufacturers

Survey reveals effect of smart manufacturing technology

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2023 - 12:01

(Rockwell Automation: Milwaukee) -- Rockwell Automation, one of the world’s largest companies dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, has published the results of its 8th annual “State of Smart Manufacturing Study.” The global study surveyed more than 1,350 manufacturers across 13 of the leading manufacturing countries.

This year’s report reveals a focus on delivering profitable growth without sacrificing quality, an emphasis on accessing data’s true potential, and increasing technology adoption to build resilience, enable agility, increase sustainability, and address workforce challenges.

Key global findings include:
• Twice as many manufacturers believe their organization lacks the technology needed to outpace the competition, as compared to 2022.
• Four out of five manufacturers still lack an end-to-end supply chain planning solution.
• Cybersecurity risks rank highest as the obstacle respondents are looking to overcome with smart manufacturing initiatives.
• 45 percent of manufacturers cite “improving quality” as the main positive outcome they want to achieve with smart manufacturing initiatives.
• 89 percent of manufacturers plan to maintain or grow employment due to technology adoption. Additionally, 36 percent of respondents believe they will be able to repurpose existing workers due to their increasing use of technology.
• Of the 95 percent of manufacturers who have formal or informal ESG policies in place, 42 percent cite “improving efficiencies” as the top driving factor for pursuing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

“Manufacturers are continuing to seek opportunities for profitable growth but are realizing that uncertainty in workforce availability is impacting quality, along with their ability to meet evolving customer needs,” says Veena Lakkundi, senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at Rockwell Automation. “The survey found that smart manufacturing technology is enabling manufacturers of all sizes to optimize more resilient, agile, and sustainable solutions that accelerate transformation. If we’ve learned anything from history, it’s that organizations that invest in innovation, with a bias for action, during times of uncertainty can outpace competitors.”

Based on survey findings, technology is crucial to mitigating risk and delivering growth. However, for one-third of manufacturers, the range of available systems and platforms is leading to “technology paralysis,” an inability to decide between solutions. Manufacturers can resolve this indecision by choosing a partner with relevant industry expertise and experience that can advise and guide them in implementing a fit-for-purpose solution to achieve desired outcomes.

“At Rockwell, we combine the power of our portfolio of industry solutions with our second-to-none partner ecosystem to serve as a trusted advisor to leading companies around the world,” says Lakkundi. “As the biggest company focused solely on industrial automation and digital transformation, we work to make the complex simple and meet companies where they are in their journeys.”

The full report can be found here.


This report analyzed feedback from 1,353 respondents from 13 of the top manufacturing countries with roles from management up to the C-suite and was conducted in association with Sapio Research and Plex Systems. The survey covered discrete, process, and hybrid industries across a balanced distribution of company sizes with revenues spanning $10 million to more than $10 billion, providing a wide breadth of manufacturing business perspectives.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.