Rockwell Automation reports 45% of APAC manufacturers struggle to outpace competitors due to lack of innovation, skilled workforce and technology 

US industrial automation company Rockwell Automation has announced the results of its eighth annual ‘state of smart manufacturing report’. The global study surveyed more than 1,350 manufacturers across 13 manufacturing countries including Australia, China, India, Japan and south Korea.

It revealed a focus on delivering profitable growth without sacrificing quality, accessing the potential of data, and increasing adoption of technology to build resilience, enable agility, and address workforce challenges.

The key findings state that the biggest internal obstacles inhibiting progress for Asia-Pacific (APAC) manufacturers this year were balancing quality and growth, as well as tracking or quantifying sustainable practices, compared to deploying and integrating new technology in 2022. Globally, twice as many manufacturers believe their organisation lacks the technology needed to outpace the competition, as compared to 2022.

Further, the findings added that four out of five manufacturers still lack an end-to-end supply chain planning solution. About 44% of APAC manufacturers plan to adopt smart manufacturing within the next year and the biggest barriers to adopting smart manufacturing were employee resistance to technology adoption, lack of skill set to manage smart manufacturing implementation, and lack of clear definition of the value of smart manufacturing.

Additionally, quality management system (QMS) is the smart manufacturing system that APAC respondents have seen the largest return on investment (ROI), followed by manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Cybersecurity risks rank highest as the obstacle all respondents are looking to mitigate with smart manufacturing initiatives. 88% of APAC manufacturers plan to maintain or grow employment due to technology adoption. Additionally, 39% of respondents believe they will be able to repurpose existing workers due to their increasing use of technology. Of the 94% of APAC manufacturers who have formal or informal environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies in place, 48% cite “a competitive differentiator” as the top driving factor for pursuing ESG initiatives.

Veena Lakkundi, senior vice-president, strategy and corporate development of Rockwell Automation said, “The survey found that smart manufacturing technology is enabling manufacturers of all sizes to optimise more resilient, agile, and sustainable solutions that accelerate transformation.”

Based on the survey findings, technology mitigates risk and delivering growth. But for one-third of manufacturers globally, the range of available systems and platforms is leading to ‘technology paralysis’ — an inability to decide between solutions. Manufacturers can overcome this indecision by choosing a partner with relevant industry expertise who can advise them in implementing a fit-for-purpose solution to achieve desired outcomes.  

“At Rockwell, we combine our portfolio of industry solutions with our partner ecosystem to serve as an advisor to companies around the world,” added Lakkundi.