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Zebra Technologies on manufacturing solutions

The study showed that 54% of manufacturers in Europe (61% globally) expect AI to drive growth by 2029. (Image source: Canva)

Zebra Technologies Corporation, a digital solution provider enabling businesses to intelligently connect data, assets, and people, today announced the findings of its 2024 Manufacturing Vision Study.

The study showed that 54% of manufacturers in Europe (61% globally) expect AI to drive growth by 2029, up from 37% (41% globally) in 2024. This surge in AI adoption, combined with 92% of survey respondents prioritising digital transformation, underscores manufacturers’ intent to improve data management and leverage new technologies that enhance visibility and quality throughout the manufacturing process.

While digital transformation is a priority for manufacturers, achieving it is fraught with obstacles, including the cost and availability of labour, scaling technology solutions, and the convergence of information technology and operational technology (IT/OT). Visibility is the first step to transformation and the adoption of AI and other new technologies enables manufacturers to leverage data more effectively to identify, react and prioritise problems and projects so they can deliver incremental efficiencies across the manufacturing process that can net the greatest impact upfront.

“Manufacturers struggle with using their data effectively so they recognise they must adopt AI and other digital technology solutions to create an agile, efficient manufacturing environment,” said Enrique Herrera, industry principal for manufacturing, Zebra Technologies. “Zebra helps manufacturers work with technology in new ways to automate and augment workflows to achieve a well-connected plant floor where people and technology collaborate at scale.”

Concentrating on bridging visibility gaps

Even while manufacturers claim that digital transformation is a top priority, creating a fully integrated factory is still a challenging task. Merely 15% of manufacturing executives in Europe and 16% worldwide state that they have work-in-progress (WIP) monitoring in real-time across the whole manufacturing process.

While 57% of global manufacturing leaders (as opposed to 49% in Europe) anticipate more visibility throughout the supply chain and across production by 2029, a third of them state that a major obstacle to digital transformation is getting IT and OT to agree on where to invest. To compound these challenges, 84% of manufacturing leaders in Europe and 86% worldwide concur that they are finding it difficult to keep up with the rate of technological innovation and to safely integrate devices, sensors, and technologies across their supply chains and facilities.

Key regional findings

Asia Pacific: While only 30% of manufacturing leaders use machine vision across the plant floor in APAC, 67% are implementing or planning to deploy this technology within the next five years.

Europe: In Europe, reskilling labour to enhance data and technology usage skills is the top ranked workforce strategy for manufacturing leaders to drive growth today (46%) and in five years (71%).

Latin America: While only 24% of manufacturing leaders rely on track and trace technology in LATAM, 74% are implementing or plan to implement the technology in the next five years.

North America: In North America, 68% of manufacturing leaders rank deploying workforce development programmes as their most important labour initiative.