7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing

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Smart Manufacturing Adoption Grew 50% Over Prior Year, New Survey Shows

March 16, 2022

Report reveals the need for smart manufacturing technology to address current supply chain and workforce challenges, especially those created or heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic

Troy, MI, March 16, 2022Plex Systems, a Rockwell Automation company and the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, today announced the results of its 7th annual study, “The State of Smart Manufacturing.” 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. Building on Plex’s previous research, the data reaffirms that smart manufacturing technology adoption continues to accelerate, and these new technologies are now solving the industry’s critical challenges.

The report's findings show the COVID-19 pandemic both exposed and exacerbated pre-existing conditions in manufacturing. Additionally, the shortage of skilled workers and security concerns jumped significantly over the prior year. With that in mind, more than 83% of respondents believe smart manufacturing is key to their organization’s future success.

“The impact of COVID-19 underscores the necessity for more pervasive access and control, and the benefits of cloud-based solutions in not only enabling the new ‘work from anywhere’ paradigm, but as a fundamental next-generation technology enabler,” commented Rick Franzosa, Sr. Director, Analyst - Supply Chain at Gartner Research.1

Additional key findings include:

  • Smart manufacturing adoption accelerated by 50%. Technology and automation are driving the next generation of manufacturing, and smart manufacturing adoption will continue to accelerate in 2022.
  • The pandemic exposed three evolving business challenges. Supply chain management, skilled worker shortages, and risk mitigation, all require a new approach. In fact, 61% of respondents stated that they do not have a risk mitigation plan in place.
  • Once over-hyped technologies are now solving today’s problems. Cloud, industrial hardened devices, and process automation are helping companies overcome challenges with the skilled worker shortage, supply chain management, and risk mitigation. Specifically, 64% of organizations agree that technology can reduce hiring challenges and fuel growth in the next five years.

"The trends surfaced by ‘The State of Smart Manufacturing’ report provide real and important insights for manufacturers. These insights help us plan and stay ahead of the curve in moving our business forward," stated Tim Marsell, IT/IS division manager at Sanoh America, Inc.

“This report aims to help manufacturers benchmark their technology strategy and incorporate smart manufacturing best practices to stay competitive and thrive,” said Jerry Foster, Chief Technology Officer, Plex Systems. “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.”

For full results, download the 7th Annual Plex State of Smart Manufacturing Report at

Additionally, register today for a feature webinar on April 20th hosted by the Precision Metalforming Association, “The State of Smart Manufacturing: Respond to Market Adversity with Agility, Improved Processes and Technology Adaptation”, to learn more.

Gartner®, Cloud Computing in Manufacturing Is Foundational Today and the Requirement to Operate in the Future, Rick Franzosa, Refreshed 7 February 2022, 29 October 2020.

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