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Smart Manufacturing Adoption: A Focus on APAC

The global smart manufacturing market is on track to reach $228.3 billion by 2027, according to MarketsandMarkets. The report suggests factors like the drive for industrial automation, increasing complexities in the supply chain, and the availability of technologies capable of maximizing operational efficiency are all driving adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in manufacturing. MarketsandMarkets suggests APAC (Asia-Pacific) will hold the highest market share globally between now and 2027, partly because governments in APAC countries have initiatives in place to digitalize manufacturing.      

In a study just released by Rockwell Automation, nearly half of APAC manufacturers (44%) said they plan to adopt smart manufacturing in the next year, and many manufacturers—80% of Chinese manufacturers, 60% of Australian manufacturers, and 59% of Indian manufacturers—say they already do. A large majority of APAC manufacturers (88%) also say they intend to grow or maintain their current level of employment thanks to smart manufacturing technologies.

Areas for improvement and growth include increased adoption of end-to-end supply chain planning solutions, which only one in five manufacturers say they currently have. APAC-region respondents in Rockwell’s survey also cite employee resistance to change as another area that needs improvement, along with gaining the skillsets necessary to manage smart manufacturing tech implementation. APAC manufacturers further cited “balancing quality and growth” and “tracking or quantifying sustainable practices” as the most prominent internal obstacles inhibiting progress of Industry 4.0 adoption. Finally, a lack of a clear ROI (return on investment) is another hurdle for smart manufacturing in the region and beyond.

One APAC country in particular is the subject of another new report, this one from EIU. The market intelligence firm dedicates its latest report to India, saying the nation is “well-placed to benefit from geopolitical and economic trends that are driving the diversification of Asia’s manufacturing supply chain.” Specifically, EIU cites a strong and stable economy, access to a large pool of labor, policy reforms making it easier to do business in India, and predicted improvement in areas like trade regulation and infrastructure as some of the many reasons India is in the spotlight for manufacturing and resilient supply chain growth.

EIU suggests India is the only APAC market that offers a potential scale comparable to that of China. The market intelligence firm also suggests India is poised as an emerging digital power in the world thanks to its technological readiness. For instance, the business environment in India is changing for the better, EIU suggests, and this is breaking down the barriers that traditionally have squelched major manufacturing investment in that country.

Emerging technologies like blockchain, the IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), and a quickly growing e-commerce market are all factors playing a role in what EIU is calling India’s “manufacturing moment.” And, looking at the bigger picture, any alternative to China is looking increasingly attractive to many manufacturing investors. Will these investors look to India as the next manufacturing market of choice in the APAC region? EIU argues that although regional competition from other APAC countries is fierce, India looks like an increasingly viable choice for investors looking for an alternative to Chinese manufacturing.

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