Manufacturing vision study reveals that manufacturers expect significant Artificial Intelligence growth by 2029

Manufacturing vision study reveals that manufacturers expect significant Artificial Intelligence growth by 2029

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

The study showed that globally, 61% of manufacturers expect Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive growth by 2029, up from 41% in 2024. In APAC, 68% of manufacturers expect AI to drive growth by 2029, increasing from 46% in 2024. This surge in AI adoption, combined with 92% global and 87% of APAC  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, around 30% to 40% of global and APAC respondents recognise 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 – through adopting AI and other new technologies. This enables manufacturers to leverage data more effectively to identify, react and prioritise problems and projects to deliver incremental efficiencies across the manufacturing process, ensuring the greatest impact upfront.

“Manufacturers recognise the need to adopt AI and other digital technology solutions to leverage their data effectively and create an agile, efficient manufacturing environment,” said Colin Hughes, Regional Sales Manager for ANZ, Zebra Technologies. “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. Zebra’s solutions help manufacturers work with technology in new ways to automate and augment workflows, achieving a well-connected plant floor where people and technology collaborate at scale.”

Zebra empowers manufacturers with strategic insights and technologies to advance the connected factory by boosting visibility, optimising quality, and augmenting their workforces.

Focusing on Closing Visibility Gaps

Although manufacturers say digital transformation is a strategic priority, achieving a fully connected factory remains elusive. Visibility is key to optimising efficiency, productivity, and quality on the plant floor, yet a large visibility gap exists. Only 16%  of manufacturing leaders globally report they have real-time, work-in-progress (WIP) monitoring across the entire manufacturing process, while this is true for most APAC manufacturing leaders, at 25%.

While nearly six in 10 (57% globally, 63% in APAC) manufacturing leaders expect to increase visibility across production and throughout the supply chain by 2029, around one-third of leaders (33% globally, 38% in APAC) say getting IT and OT to agree on where to invest is a key barrier to digital transformation. Adding to these obstacles, 86% of global manufacturing leaders agree they are struggling to keep up with the pace of technological innovation and to securely integrate devices, sensors, and technologies throughout their facilities and supply chain, with 82% of APAC manufacturing leaders in agreement. Enterprises can use Zebra solutions to put their data to work, allowing for higher levels of security and manageability, as new analytics elevate the performance of their business.  

Augmenting the Workforce, Elevating Value and Efficiency 

Zebra’s study found manufacturers are shifting their growth strategies by integrating and augmenting workers with AI and other technologies to transform manufacturing and build a skilled workforce over the next five years. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of global manufacturing leaders plan to reskill labour to enhance data and technology usage skills, as seven in 10 expect to augment workers with mobility-enabling technology. These sentiments were shared by 76% and 75% of APAC manufacturing leaders respectively.

The technology tools being implemented by manufacturing leaders include tablets (51% globally, 52% in APAC), mobile computers (55% globally, 53% in APAC), and workforce management software (56% globally, 62% in APAC). In addition, six in 10 of manufacturing leaders (61% globally, 65% in APAC) plan to leverage wearable mobile computers to augment their evolving workforce.

Manufacturing leaders across the C-Suite, Information Technology (IT), and Operational Technology (OT) understand how labour initiatives must extend beyond improving worker efficiency and productivity with technology. Six in 10 of global and APAC leaders rank ongoing development, retraining/upskilling, and career path development to attract future talent as a high priority for their organisations.

Advancing Automation to Optimise Quality

Overall, the quest for quality has intensified as manufacturers across segments must do more with fewer resources. According to the survey, manufacturing leaders say today’s most significant quality management issues are real-time visibility (33% globally, 40% in APAC), keeping up with new standards and regulations (29% globally, 30% in APAC), integrating data (27% globally, 31% in APAC), and maintaining traceability (27% globally and in APAC).

Manufacturing leaders’ technology implementation plans will address these challenges. Over the next five years, many plan to implement robotics (65% globally, 72% in APAC), machine vision (66% globally and in APAC), radio frequency identification (RFID) (66% globally, 72% in APAC), and fixed industrial scanners (57% globally, 62% in APAC). Most manufacturing leaders agree these automation solutions are driven by a variety of factors including the need to provide the workforce with high-value tasks (70% globally, 75% in APAC), achieve service level agreements (69% globally, 70% in APAC), and add more flexibility to the plant floor (64% globally, 66% in APAC).



  •       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.


  •       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%).


  •       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.


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