More than 75 percent of respondents to a recent smart manufacturing survey recognized smart technology would increase their company’s competitiveness, but only half indicate their company would be willing to invest in smart initiatives.
The 2022 Smart Manufacturing Market Survey, administered to more than 250 manufacturing personnel by SME and CESMII, the Smart Manufacturing Institute, revealed a mismatch between the importance of smart automation technology and actually staffing and funding the digital transformation to its adoption.
The survey results were released at Smart Manufacturing Experience 2022 in Pittsburgh, an in-person event featuring over 60 leading manufacturing companies spotlighting the latest transformative technologies.
“Smart manufacturing clearly will increase SMM competitiveness and company leadership understands the need to invest,” said John Dyck, chief executive officer of CESMII, the Smart Manufacturing Institute. “The part that’s still proving to be a challenge is the ability to connect this value to a compelling ROI, and their commitment to invest their financial resources in smart manufacturing initiatives.”
Manufacturers are struggling to find objective, authoritative and trusted sources for smart manufacturing resources and education. The level of ‘noise’ in the marketplace is significant, making it exceedingly challenging for them to know where to turn for reliable insights and guidance.
“No aspect of manufacturing will be as important to the industry’s future as digital transformation and the talent and ability to adopt of smart technology in the production environment, said Jeannine Kunz, chief workforce development officer for SME. “Our discussions with large manufacturers reveal that digital transformation is not only a competitive minimum over the next decade, for both big and small companies, but it’s also neither financially nor technologically out of reach for the SMM manufacturing base.”
Kunz said that Smart Manufacturing Experience is designed to incorporate resources that help companies train their workforce in how to implement a digital transformation strategy and operate more efficiently. It also helps manufacturers make connections with other organizations and industry experts who have embraced smart technology and are able to provide insights on how to integrate digital technologies in a way that makes sense for their business.
According to Dyck, the survey identified three key findings that can help SME, CESMII and their other event partners to accelerate digital transformation for SMMs. These include:
- Smart manufacturing is important to companies, but adoption is moving at a slow pace – He said two-thirds of companies are in some way implementing a smart-manufacturing strategy, yet only 40 percent have dedicated staff members to its implementation. In fact, 77 percent believe smart technology will increase competitiveness for their organizations, but only half said their companies were willing to invest in smart initiatives.
- Respondents view the role of consortia and non-profits as a means of education and training resources to the industry on smart manufacturing topics – Activities such as Smart Manufacturing Experience, and non-profit organizations such as SME, CESMII, AMT an AMI are among the top resources consulted for information on digital transformation to smart technology. Three-quarters of those surveyed spend an average of more than $2,000 per person annually for structured employee training through consortia and non-profits, which they consider these sources most important benefit.
- Opportunities exist for vendors to offer companies more help with the smart manufacturing adoption process – The survey results indicated a need for smart manufacturing technology vendors to provide greater assistance at affordable prices.
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