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‘UK Leading the AI and Machine Learning Charge’

by Pieter Werner

A new report indicates that 79% of UK manufacturers plan to implement generative AI in their operations by 2024. In comparison to a global average of 91%, 94% of UK manufacturers expect to utilize AI and ML in advanced analytics, representing the highest percentage among the surveyed countries.

The “State of Smart Manufacturing Report” by Rockwell Automation, presents findings from its 9th annual survey, which gathered responses from over 1,500 participants across 17 countries. The report focuses on the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on the United Kingdom’s (UK) role in this technological integration.

In the context of barriers to adopting smart manufacturing technologies, 33% of UK respondents cite a lack of skilled workforce as the primary challenge, the highest percentage among European countries included in the study. Only 25% of manufacturers in the UK consider the current skill level of their workforce insufficient to outpace competition over the next 12 months, a lower percentage compared to Germany (41%) and France (40%).

The report also notes an increase in technology spending across Europe, with 73% of UK companies investing between 21% and 50% of their operating budget in technology, marking the highest investment level in Europe. In the UK, companies focus on using data to develop better AI and ML applications, along with cybersecurity, energy management, and predictive maintenance.

Cybersecurity ranks as the third most pressing external challenge for UK companies, with 28% identifying it as a concern.

In terms of AI and ML investment, the UK prioritizes quality control, cybersecurity, logistics, and customer service. The report emphasizes that these technologies are being used to supplement existing roles rather than replace them, particularly in areas with labor shortages and skill gaps.

The priorities for UK companies, as identified in the report, are improving quality, financial position, and decision-making using data. These priorities differ from the broader European focus on cost and efficiency.

Overall, the report from Rockwell Automation portrays the UK as an active participant in integrating AI and ML into manufacturing, with an approach focused on enhancing operational efficiency and decision-making processes.

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