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New State of Smart Manufacturing Study shows that companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are enhancing data-driven productivity and sustainability with artificial intelligence

Global research highlights how artificial intelligence is being deployed to give the workforce superpowers and build resiliency in operations.

DUBAI, UAE, March 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, today announced the results of the 9th annual study, “The State of Smart Manufacturing”, offering valuable insights into trends, challenges, and plans for global manufacturers. The international study surveyed more than 1,550 respondents from 17 countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Rockwell Automation today announced the results of the 9th annual study, "The State of Smart Manufacturing." Three clear messages emerge from this report for companies in KSA and UAE: the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is here for manufacturing, technology is being deployed to give the workforce superpowers, and companies face challenges in implementing new technology.

Three clear messages emerge from this report for companies in KSA and UAE: the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is here for manufacturing, technology is being deployed to give the workforce superpowers, and companies face challenges in implementing new technology.

“In the region, the AI revolution is unmistakably underway,” said Ediz Eren, regional vice president, Middle East, Türkiye and Africa, Rockwell Automation. “Our survey reveals that 87% of companies have either invested or plan to invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning within the next year, with generative AI leading the charge at 86%. The impact of AI is profound, with applications ranging from quality control to cybersecurity, robotics, and supply chain management.

“As businesses navigate this transformative landscape, driven by the ambitious targets set by their respective governments, addressing the skills gap emerges as a key challenge, with 46% citing a lack of skilled workers, compared with 30% in the US. To bridge this gap, 45% are turning to automation while also focusing on organizational change management to overcome technology paralysis and drive sustainable growth.”

Other significant trends in KSA and UAE

  • Growing into new markets and international expansion is the top business outcome that companies in KSA and UAE are looking to achieve with smart manufacturing technologies (41%), significantly higher than the global average of 33%.
  • Companies in KSA and UAE consider climate change to be the single biggest obstacle to growth next year (37%), significantly higher than 24% in the US and 20% in Europe.
  • Supply chain planning (17%) had the biggest ROI, which was higher than US (10%), and Europe (13%).
  • 75% of companies invest more than 20% of their operating budget in technology, more than Europe (73%) but less than the US (82%).
  • Quality management systems (QMS) had the biggest impact on workforce challenges (17%), higher than US (13%), and Europe (7%).
  • AI/machine learning drives the biggest business outcomes (44%), above both the US (39%) and Europe (42%).
  • The ability to move quickly and a lack of production capacity (both 27%) were the top reasons for companies’ inability to keep pace with their opposition.

The AI revolution is here

According to this year’s survey, AI and machine learning (ML) are the number one area that companies in KSA and UAE have invested in. In the 2024 survey, 87% of the companies surveyed said they have invested or plan to invest in the next 12 months, with 86% citing generative AI. When they deploy the technology, there are four standout applications: quality control (50%), cybersecurity (47%), robotics (37%), and supply chain management (36%). AI also came out top (44%) when companies were asked which smart manufacturing technologies drive the biggest business outcomes.

Empowering and super-charging people 

In any digital transformation, people are all too often the forgotten dimension. For companies in the KSA and UAE, they represent a clear challenge, with a lack of skilled workers (46%) by far the biggest barrier when it came to adopting smart manufacturing technologies. This was well above the next two: cost and employee’s resistance to change – both at 34%. When asked what was the biggest internal challenge to growth, workforce issues featured prominently again, with worker/knowledge retention second at 24%.

To address the manufacturing industry’s labor shortage and skills gap, 45% of companies in the KSA and UAE are looking to increase the use of automation. Other significant responses were outsourcing work to consultants (42%) and introducing AI (41%).

Overcoming technology paralysis

When it comes to the biggest internal challenges to growth over the next 12 months, the focus was on technology. A quarter of companies cited technology paralysis as the biggest barrier, with challenges deploying and integrating new technology third at 24%. To mitigate against these technology challenges, 36% of companies in the region are looking to implement a formal organizational change management program.

“In the KSA and UAE, smart manufacturing technologies are rapidly reshaping industries,” said Eren. “With 87% of companies investing in AI and machine learning, the region is embracing innovation to drive efficiency and competitiveness. Overcoming challenges like the skills gap and technology integration, the two countries are poised for transformative growth.”

The full findings of the report can be found here.

Methodology

This report analyzed feedback from 1,567 respondents from 17 of the top manufacturing countries with roles from management up to the C-suite and was conducted in association with Sapio Research and Plex Systems. The survey covered discrete, process, and hybrid industries across a balanced distribution of company sizes with revenues spanning $10 million to over $10 billion, providing a wide breadth of manufacturing business perspectives.

About Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK) is a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation. We connect the imaginations of people with the potential of technology to expand what is humanly possible, making the world more productive and more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs approximately 29,000 problem solvers dedicated to our customers in more than 100 countries. To learn more about how we are bringing the Connected Enterprise to life across industrial enterprises, visit www.rockwellautomation.com.

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