5 priorities trending in manufacturing today

The 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing report revealed common challenges and opportunities from leaders in the industry.
January 12, 2024 by
Pedro Jr.

The test of global change has exposed the fragile nature of systems, processes, and supply chain solutions that were historically deemed "good enough."

A recent global survey of 321 manufacturers has shed light on the industry's major obstacles and emphasized the need for agility, technology adoption, and process improvement to respond to market adversity. The results of this survey are part of the seventh Annual Report on the State of Smart Manufacturing, the most robust edition to date.

This study by Plex Systems, a Rockwell Automation company, in collaboration with Hanover Research, reveals the current state of smart manufacturing, the challenges manufacturers face, and expectations for the industry's future.

To address current issues and other yet unknown dynamics, technology, specifically smart manufacturing, is key.

What is smart manufacturing?

According to MESA International, smart manufacturing is defined as "the intelligent, real-time orchestration and optimization of business, physical, and digital processes within factories and along the entire value chain. Resources and processes are continuously automated, integrated, monitored, and evaluated based on all available information as close to real-time as possible."

As you know, the manufacturing landscape is constantly changing. Technologies once considered excessive and unnecessary are now crucial for success.

"There has never been a more crucial time in manufacturing. The pandemic exposed the depth of challenges facing manufacturers, including supply chain disruption, shortage of skilled workers, and risk mitigation," says Tessa Meyers, Vice President and General Manager of Plex Systems, a Rockwell Automation company. "The time to act is now. Visionary and informed leaders are making decisions that will pave the way for success this year, while stepping back to assess where those decisions will take the business in five, ten, and fifteen years."

Where does your team stand in these popular categories?

  1. Smart Manufacturing: 83% of respondents believe that smart manufacturing is key to the future success of their organization. Technology and automation are driving leaders in the current manufacturing space while propelling the next generation of manufacturing innovation. Have you started exploring smart manufacturing for your organization? This year's survey results build on previous Plex reports, reaffirming that technology adoption continues to accelerate, and previously overrated technologies are now addressing critical industry challenges.
  2. Employee Retention: 84% of respondents rated employee retention as "very" or "extremely" important. How is employee retention going for you and your team? Are you dealing with a shortage of skilled workers? As manufacturers grapple with ongoing challenges, they are also leveraging opportunities for change, especially regarding staffing and work modalities. This shift is opening up a broader talent pool and creating a more conducive environment for retention. As remote work expands, cloud technology will be a vital component in driving this agile approach to work.
  3. Digital Transformation: 28% of manufacturers are evaluating the adoption of smart technology but have not yet begun their digital transformation. Where are you on your digital transformation journey? Software modularization is gaining strength and lowering entry barriers. With increasingly modular smart manufacturing technology options available, investment and implementation can be straightforward, smooth, and cost-effective. These incremental investments unlock value rapidly and can be used to fund later projects, acting as building blocks for smaller manufacturers or those without large capital investment plans.
  4. Risk Mitigation: 61% of respondents do not have a risk mitigation plan. Risk mitigation continues to evolve and is essential to progress with it. Most organizations approach security similarly to how someone might view going to the doctor. Some people adhere to regular check-ups to ensure good health and detect potential issues. Others opt for the wait-and-see approach. What side does your organization prefer when it comes to risk mitigation and security? Is your system's health a significant priority? How important are data protection, processes, and uptime?
  5. Supply Chain Planning: 70% of respondents are using supply chain planning systems that rely on spreadsheets and manual processes. However, that won't be sufficient in the future. How does supply chain planning look in your organization? No matter how sophisticated manual solutions may be, they cannot handle the level of calculation that dedicated artificial intelligence supply chain technology can offer.

Create your action plan for technology adoption

The 2022 State of Smart Manufacturing report will help you compare technology usage and discover best practices to help your organization stay competitive and thrive not only today or tomorrow but next year and every year after.

What stands between your team and your business objectives? And how could technology and smart manufacturing pave the way for success? Listening to colleagues from around the world about their adoption of smart manufacturing can help you compare technology usage and discover new solutions for the future.

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