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Take-up of smart manufacturing soared by 50% during 2021

21 March, 2022

Adoption of smart manufacturing technologies grew by 50% during 2021, according to a new global survey of more than 300 manufacturers operating in a wide variety of industries. Two out of three manufacturers, it reports, are now turning to some form of smart technology to overcome the challenges they face, while making their processes faster and more effective.

The survey, published by Plex Systems – the cloud-based smart manufacturing business which Rockwell Automation bought last year for $2.2bn – also found that than 83% of respondents believe smart manufacturing is key to their organisations’ future success. Technology and automation are driving the next generation of manufacturing, it says, predicting that the adoption of smart manufacturing will continue to accelerate during 2022.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with Hanover Research, reports that the Covid-19 pandemic has both exposed and exacerbated pre-existing problems in manufacturing. In particular, it exposed three evolving business challenges: supply chain management; skilled worker shortages; and risk mitigation.

According to report, almost four in ten (38%) respondents say they intend to invest more in supply chain planning, indicating that their previous investments in this area have not been enough. And 61% of respondents reveal that they do not have a risk mitigation plan in place.

“Once over-hyped” technologies – such as the cloud, and industrially-hardened devices – and are helping to solve these problems, the report argues. Almost two thirds (64%) of the organisations quizzed believe that technology can reduce their hiring challenges and drive growth in the coming five years.

The report – the seventh in an annual series from Plex – offers insights into trends, challenges and future plans for global manufacturers. For the first time, it finds that indecision due to an overload of technology investment options is becoming a serious obstacle to growth, with more than 20% of respondents citing it. Concerns about the shortage of skilled workers and security were significantly higher than in 2020.

Plex CTO Jerry Foster: manufacturers are placing significant value on smart technology

The report, called The State of Smart Manufacturing, can be downloaded from Plex’s Web site.

“This report aims to help manufacturers benchmark their technology strategy and incorporate smart manufacturing best practices to stay competitive and thrive,” says Plex Systems’ chief technology officer, Jerry Foster. “A scalable technology strategy makes it possible to incrementally adopt solutions and achieve value quickly. As manufacturers look to streamline processes and solve today’s challenges, they are placing significant value on using smart technology to address and improve actual business outcomes.”

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