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Rockwell: New Study Finds GenAI as Top Tech Investment for Manufacturers Globally, 40% of APAC Manufacturers Use Technology to Create More Engaging Jobs

Global State of Smart Manufacturing Report reveals impact of emerging technologies on addressing workforce, quality, cybersecurity, and sustainability challenges.

Rockwell: New Study Finds GenAI as Top Tech Investment for Manufacturers Globally, 40% of APAC Manufacturers Use Technology to Create More Engaging Jobs

Rockwell Automation has announced the results of the 9th annual “State of Smart Manufacturing Report.”. The global study surveyed more than 1,500 manufacturers across 17 of the leading manufacturing countries, including China, Japan, India, and South Korea.

This year’s report reveals a focus on harnessing new and emerging technologies to build resiliency, improve quality, maximize workforce potential, and drive sustainable growth.

“A skilled workforce is the cornerstone of any successful manufacturing operation, but attracting, managing and retaining workers is proving to be an ongoing challenge,” said Cyril Perducat, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Rockwell Automation. “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.”

Key Asia Pacific findings include:

  • AI/ML, Smart Manufacturing
  • AI and machine learning are key smart manufacturing technologies that are top-of-mind for manufacturers in terms of driving positive business outcomes and ROI. 48% APAC manufacturers are investing in increased automation and 44% are introducing AI or ML technologies
  • 69% plan to adopt smart manufacturing within the next 6 to 11 months – a 56% growth from last year
  • 43% of APAC manufacturers said improved quality is the number one outcome respondents hope to achieve from existing smart manufacturing technology.


  • Energy management matters most in Sustainability/ESG programs, overtaking product quality/safety, which was the top issue in 2023. Within APAC, 91% have some form of formal ESG policy – 53% have a company broad policy, and 38% are limited to specific locations
  • 36% of APAC manufactures are looking to adopt technology for tracking/quantifying sustainable practices


  • 40% of APAC manufacturers are adding/using technology to create more engaging jobs.
  • 35% of APAC manufacturers are looking to upskill existing talent
  • 27% of APAC companies pointed to a lack of skilled workers as one of their biggest concerns alongside speed (28%) and the ability to use data to make decisions (25%).

Cybersecurity ranked as the second skill employers in APAC are seeking in 2024 and one of the top use cases for AI/ML over the next three years. 35% of APAC manufacturers cited cybersecurity as the top external challenge.

“It was no surprise to see AI shoot into the top technology consideration spot in this year’s report,” said Scott Wooldridge, regional vice president, Asia Pacific, Rockwell Automation. “What pleased me was seeing that it’s here in the Asia Pacific region where AI is already driving the highest returns on investment for manufacturers. More than 44% of Asian manufacturers plan to introduce AI/ML to address workforce shortages and skill gaps in the near future. There is an opportunity for Asia to lead in reframing the human-technology partnership where technology is seen as an enabler, and not a replacement, for more productive and sustainable business outcomes.”

Key global findings include:

  • AI ranks as the top capability that manufacturers believe will drive the biggest business outcomes. 83% of manufacturers expect to use generative AI (GenAI) in their operations in 2024.
  • 95% of manufacturers are using or evaluating smart manufacturing technology – up from 84% in 2023.
  • 94% of manufacturers plan to maintain or grow their workforce due to smart manufacturing technology adoption, with a heavy focus on repurposing workers to new or different roles and/or hiring more workers.
  • Change management is the leading workforce-related obstacle for manufacturers in 2024.
  • Manufacturers cite “improved quality” as the top positive outcome they hope to achieve from existing smart manufacturing technology for a second consecutive year. Additionally, “quality control” ranks as the #1 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 is the factor that matters most to manufacturers’ sustainability/ESG programs.

Manufacturers continue to face a significant challenge: combining people, processes, and technology to drive long-term business growth and resilience. According to the report, around 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. Manufacturers can overcome this challenge by selecting a partner with relevant industry expertise and experience who can provide tailored solutions and support in aligning technology and talent with business objectives.

“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. Being the largest company dedicated solely to industrial automation and digital transformation, we strive to help companies realize the promise and value of their digital transformation, no matter where they are in their journey,” said Perducat.

The full findings of the report can be found here.

This report analyzed feedback from 1,567 respondents from 17 of the top manufacturing countries with roles from management up to the C-suite and was conducted in association with Rockwell Automation and Sapio Research. The survey pulled from a range of industries including Consumer Packaged Goods, Food & Beverage, Automotive, Semiconductor, Energy, Life Sciences, and more. With a balanced distribution of company sizes with revenues spanning $100 million to over $30 billion, it offers a wide breadth of manufacturing business perspectives.


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