Manufacturers around the country are rolling out digitalization projects to improve their business processes, but more than one-third (35%) still report relying on manual data collection, which suggests a significant gap among manufacturers’ willingness and their preparedness to embrace today’s technology, according to a survey from Parsec Automation Corp., a provider of manufacturing execution system (MES) software.
Overall, nearly three-quarters (73%) of manufacturers have begun the digital transformation process, with 40% reporting significant progress or completion, Parsec said in its “2023 State of Manufacturing” survey. And a majority (71%) of respondents expressed positive sentiments about their organizations’ digital transformation initiatives.
However, their reliance on legacy data collection practices shows that many companies may be underutilizing technology or underestimating its capabilities. That means there is still ample opportunity for tech providers to educate their customers on pivotal value-adds like automated data collection and analysis. That data is also the foundation of MES software, which leverages industrial internet of things (IIoT) technologies to automate and optimize nearly every facet of a manufacturing plant, Parsec said.
“Although manufacturers are steadily advancing towards digital transformation, there remains a significant scope for progress," commented Eddy Azad, Founder and CEO of Parsec. "It's heartening to note that over half (53%) of the survey participants are utilizing enabling technologies like MES. This insight underscores the need for technology providers to not only effectively showcase the benefits of their solutions, but also to furnish the requisite tools and education for the seamless and sustainable adoption of these transformative technologies.”
One hurdle to advancing those digitalization projects is hiring and retention. Workforce shortages remain a challenge for many manufacturers, with nearly half (46%) citing these difficulties as direct impediments to adopting advanced technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Without enough skilled, knowledgeable workers on the payroll, manufacturers face an uphill climb in their digitalization initiatives—indeed, half (50%) said the lack of skilled applicants is the most challenging aspect of staffing.
Another challenge is lingering supply chain challenges, with more than half (53%) of manufacturers in the survey reporting that their organizations are “hardly” or “somewhat” prepared to weather a storm. More than one-third (36%) shared that supply chain issues have been “very” or “extremely” challenging for their businesses.
Among all respondents, discrete manufacturers, who use assembly lines to produce goods like automobiles, seem to be experiencing the most disruption, with 48% of those organizations reporting continued challenges. Conversely, batch manufacturers, who produce goods like food and pharmaceuticals, appear to be handling supply chain disruptions the best, with less than one-third (29%) reporting continued challenges.