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Rockwell Automation: 83% of Manufacturers Plan To Use GenAI in Their Operations in 2024

Rockwell Automation has unveiled the findings of its 9th annual "State of Smart Manufacturing Report." The global study, which surveyed over 1,500 manufacturers across 17 leading manufacturing countries, highlights a focus on leveraging new and emerging technologies to enhance resiliency, quality, workforce potential, and sustainable growth.

Cyril Perducat, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Rockwell Automation, emphasized the importance of a skilled workforce in successful manufacturing operations. "Attracting, managing, and retaining workers is proving to be an ongoing challenge," Perducat stated. "The survey found technology alone is not the answer. To remain competitive, manufacturers need to focus their staff on embracing new technology as a core part of their evolving organizational culture, creating a technology/worker partnership that drives their business forward."

The report's key global findings reveal that artificial intelligence (AI) is considered the top capability that manufacturers believe will drive the biggest business outcomes, with 83% of manufacturers expecting to use generative AI (GenAI) in their operations in 2024. Additionally, 95% of manufacturers are using or evaluating smart manufacturing technology, up from 84% in 2023. A significant 94% of manufacturers plan to maintain or grow their workforce due to smart manufacturing technology adoption, with a focus on repurposing workers to new or different roles and/or hiring more workers.

Change management emerged as the leading workforce-related obstacle for manufacturers in 2024. Manufacturers also cited "improved quality" as the top positive outcome they hope to achieve from existing smart manufacturing technology for the second consecutive year, with "quality control" ranking as the number one AI/Machine Learning use case in 2024. For the first time, cybersecurity is listed as one of the top five external risks for manufacturers in 2024, ranking third overall. Energy management was identified as the factor that matters most to manufacturers' sustainability/ESG programs.

Allison Kuhn, Principal Analyst at LNS Research, highlighted the need for a sustainable workforce strategy. "The workforce of 2019 is not coming back," said Kuhn. "Leaders are winning the war for talent by embracing this new reality and with a laser focus on three imperatives: Total Employee Experience, Servant Leadership, and Connected Frontline Workforce (CFW) Applications."

The report underscores the challenge manufacturers face in combining people, processes, and technology to drive long-term business growth and resilience. About one-third of manufacturing leaders cite "matching technology and talent to business need" and "effectively managing people and resources" as the biggest obstacles their organizations face over the next year.

Perducat concluded, "At Rockwell, the combination of our deep industry expertise with our exceptional PartnerNetwork™ puts us in the best position to advise and guide leading global manufacturers. We strive to help companies realize the promise and value of their digital transformation, no matter where they are in their journey."

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