Rockwell Automation Unveils Insights from 9th Annual “State of Smart Manufacturing Report”

by Anna

Rockwell Automation, a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation, has released the findings of its 9th annual “State of Smart Manufacturing Report.” This comprehensive study provides valuable insights into the prevailing trends, challenges, and strategies among global manufacturers. With responses from over 1,500 participants across 17 countries, including prominent European nations like the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the report offers a nuanced understanding of the evolving landscape of manufacturing.


Amidst various findings, three significant trends emerge from the report, signifying a transformative phase for the manufacturing sector. Firstly, the advent of the AI revolution in manufacturing is evident, with technology poised to revolutionize operations. Secondly, there’s a concerted effort to equip the workforce with technology-driven “superpowers,” enhancing productivity and efficiency. Lastly, there’s a growing emphasis on building resilience in operations to navigate uncertainties effectively.


Asa Arvidsson, Regional Vice President Sales, North Region at Rockwell Automation, underscores the evolving nature of manufacturing in response to changing global dynamics. Arvidsson notes, “The world has changed, and manufacturing has changed with it, but there is more to do.” The persistent challenge of talent scarcity, coupled with the imperative for profitable growth, underscores the pivotal role of technology in driving innovation and addressing workforce constraints.

In the UK, several key findings shed light on the trajectory of smart manufacturing. Notably, AI emerges as the leading capability expected to drive significant business outcomes, with an overwhelming 79% of UK manufacturers anticipating the adoption of generative AI (GenAI) in their operations by 2024. Moreover, the UK leads in AI and machine learning (ML) adoption, with 94% of manufacturers expected to leverage these technologies in advanced analytics, surpassing global averages.

However, the UK faces hurdles in smart manufacturing implementation, notably a skills gap, identified by 33% of respondents as a significant barrier. Nevertheless, the UK demonstrates a proactive approach to technology investment, with a notable 30% year-over-year increase in technology spending across Europe. Additionally, cybersecurity emerges as a critical concern, ranking third among external challenges faced by UK companies.

The report highlights the pivotal role of AI and ML in driving smart manufacturing investments, with quality control, cybersecurity, logistics, and customer service identified as key applications. Moreover, the emphasis on empowering the workforce through technology resonates strongly, with organizations leveraging AI to augment rather than replace human roles. Remote work emerges as a strategy to address labor shortages, with 38% of UK companies exploring remote-capable roles to access a wider talent pool.

Quality remains a paramount concern for UK manufacturers, alongside initiatives to bolster financial resilience and enhance data-driven decision-making. Arvidsson emphasizes the strategic significance of AI adoption, positioning UK manufacturers at the forefront of innovation and competitiveness on the global stage.

In conclusion, the “State of Smart Manufacturing Report” underscores a pivotal moment for the industry, characterized by rapid technological adoption and strategic transformation. By leveraging AI, UK manufacturers are poised to redefine manufacturing ecosystems, driving innovation and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The full report findings are available [here](insert link).

The report is based on feedback from 1,567 respondents across 17 manufacturing countries, covering a diverse range of roles from management to the C-suite. Conducted in collaboration with Sapio Research and Plex Systems, the survey encompasses discrete, process, and hybrid industries, with a balanced representation of companies of varying sizes and revenues, offering comprehensive insights into manufacturing business perspectives.


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