Asia ‘most receptive to smart manufacturing’, says report


Plex Systems, a Rockwell Automation company and provider of cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, has released the results of its 7th annual study, The State of Smart Manufacturing Report.

The research reveals that smart manufacturing adoption accelerated by 50 percent globally in 2021, and these new technologies are now solving the industry’s critical challenges.

Asia-Pacific (APAC) organizations (93 percent) view smart manufacturing as “very” or “extremely” important to future success, compared to North America (84 percent) and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) (75 percent) .

Reflecting their optimism towards smart manufacturing, most APAC organizations reported a shorter timeframe – “within the next 7 to 11 months” – for adoption of smart manufacturing solutions, compared with NA and EMEA’s majority response of “within the next 1-2 years” .

The global study surveyed more than 300 manufacturers in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, electronics, consumer goods, plastics and rubber, precision metal forming, and more.

This year’s report, conducted in collaboration with Hanover Research, offers valuable insights into trends, challenges, and future plans for global manufacturers.

Jerry Foster, chief technology officer, Plex Systems, says: “This report aims to help manufacturers benchmark their technology strategy and incorporate smart manufacturing best practices to stay competitive and thrive.

“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.”

The report’s findings show the pandemic both exposed and exacerbated pre-existing conditions in manufacturing. Skilled worker shortages, competition, and supply chain disruptions are the top three challenges being faced by Asia-Pacific organizations because of the pandemic.

With that in mind, nine in 10 APAC respondents (93 percent) believe smart manufacturing is key to their organization’s future success.

Steven Chiu, Asia-Pacific sales leader, Plex Systems, says: “Asia’s manufacturing sector has been adversely impacted by the pandemic and global crises such as the civil unrest in eastern Europe.

“As a key global hub for manufacturing accounts for nearly half of the worldwide manufacturing output, Asia-Pacific industries are depending on their industrial sectors to drive post-pandemic recovery.

“The adoption of smart manufacturing solutions, such as cloud-based technologies, has become imperative for APAC organizations to stay competitive and thrive.

“The report findings show that organizations in the region are placing significant value on using such to address and improve actual business outcomes.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Smart manufacturing adoption is accelerating worldwide. By end-2022, 75 percent of organizations will adopt some components of smart manufacturing. Technology and automation are driving the next generation of manufacturing, and smart manufacturing adoption will continue to accelerate in 2022.
  • The pandemic has accelerated adoption of smart manufacturing solutions. Investment-wise, APAC organizations primarily plan to implement automation of business processes, automated process enforcement, and supply chain planning.
  • All manufacturing components are recognized as important by more than half of surveyed organizations. Across regions, including APAC, manufacturing execution systems (69 percent) ranked as the most critical/significant smart manufacturing initiative. Enterprise resource planning and asset performance management followed this, ranking just above Quality management systems and Supply Chain Planning.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence are the primary technologies that organizations plan to use in the next five years. Globally, organizations primarily use data for planning purposes, such as product planning/scheduling (46 percent) and process optimization (44 percent), while Asia-Pacific organizations (54 percent) primarily use data collected for AI applications.
  • Over 50 percent of APAC organizations are adopting cloud for risk mitigation. Adopting cloud technologies, managing cybersecurity risks, and consulting with experts on regulatory/compliance issues are the most common strategies among APAC organizations for risk mitigation.

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