Rockwell survey finds that smart manufacturing technologies are helping Australian manufacturers deal with skills shortage

Rockwell Automation Australia
Wednesday, 01 May, 2024

Rockwell survey finds that smart manufacturing technologies are helping Australian manufacturers deal with skills shortage

According to Ai Group, Australian businesses are facing the tightest labour market since the 1970s. Manufacturers have acknowledged the issue and this comes through in Rockwell Automation’s 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report (SoSM). The global study surveyed more than 1,500 manufacturers across 17 countries including 88 businesses in Australia and New Zealand.

Of the respondents from Australia and New Zealand, the SoSM Report revealed that 33% of the companies are piloting robotics implementations with another 23% at the planning stage. A significant 40% of the companies in Australia and New Zealand surveyed have already implemented robotics at scale.

The interest in robotics from manufacturers is not surprising. The Australian Government’s latest Jobs and Skills Priority List reveals significant shortages of production engineers, software engineers, industrial engineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers. Given the lack of adequate human resources, a higher level of automation is the only way for the country’s manufacturers to keep plants operating while also planning for growth.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

One of the key building blocks in the transition to greater automation is IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), which enables connected devices on the network to transfer data without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. In Australia and New Zealand, 30% of the companies surveyed have already implemented IIoT at scale with 60% piloting solutions or working on implementation plans.

This bodes well for the future of local manufacturing as IIoT can enhance efficiency and enable predictive maintenance and data-driven decision-making in industrial processes. While Australia and New Zealand may seem to be making significant strides in this area with a 30% implementation rate, the number pales in comparison to IIoT implementations in China (51%), Canada (41%) and India (48%).

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) defines smart manufacturing as: fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs. Australia’s rate of smart manufacturing adoption may come as a surprise to some, but the SoSM Report reveals that a healthy 44% of Australia and New Zealand survey respondents have already adopted this technology in full or in part.

Smart manufacturing is also gaining attention at the highest levels of the Australian Government. In November 2023, the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources noted “the notion that Australian-made products cannot compete with foreign alternatives is now outdated. With advanced manufacturing processes and techniques, particularly Industry 4.0 technologies, Australian manufacturing can be globally competitive — including on cost.”

“Smart manufacturing is complex and could entail high upfront costs, so manufacturers should develop a long-term strategy and work with credible experienced partners,” said Anthony Wong, regional director, South Pacific, Rockwell Automation. “The benefits are significant as a smart factory can autonomously run entire production processes, maximising efficiency while reducing costs.”

Seeking a productivity boost in the face of labour shortages, Australian manufacturers are turning to robots and more specifically, collaborative robots (cobots) which work alongside humans to perform intricate assembly processes or complex material handling tasks.

The SoSM Report notes that 34% of Australia and New Zealand survey respondents have already invested in cobots with another 42% planning to invest in the next 12 months. Australia is significantly ahead of Canada in this regard with that country’s numbers being 14% (invested) and 32% (planned) respectively.

To download the full Rockwell Automation State of Smart Manufacturing Report, please click here.

Related Sponsored Contents

Save energy and optimise industrial temperature control system performance

Intelligent e-pumps combined with Grundfos iSOLUTIONS can help optimise overall system...

Maximizing Pump Efficiency with Grundfos iSOLUTIONS: A System-Wide Approach to Reliability and Energy Savings

The key to efficiency is widely recognised as optimising the whole pump system not only the pumps.

Revolutionising the Australian Food and Beverage Industry with a multiparameter flowmeter like no other

Enter FLOWave — a game-changing multiparameter flowmeter that is reshaping fluid management...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd