Two recent Wisconsin manufacturing industry studies report that investments in automation are important to ongoing success.

George Bureau Vice President Consulting Services

84% of Wisconsin manufacturers with over $5 million in revenue, and 61% of manufacturers overall report that automation is important to their companies future according to the recent Wisconsin Manufacturing Report (WMR). 

The WMR also reported that 48% of manufacturers expected to increase their investment in Automation, Systems, and Technology.  This, up more than 10% from 2021, represents the fastest growing area of investment reported.

The 2022 Wisconsin Manufacturing Report™ was developed from interviews with 400 Wisconsin manufacturers and five follow-up focus groups in July, August and September 2022. The study was commissioned by the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity (WCMP) in collaboration with WMEP Manufacturing Solutions (WMEP) and the University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC). First Business Bank (FBB) was the lead sponsor of this year’s report.  

The WMEP Manufacturing Solutions Automation, Technology & Systems Pulse Survey (Automation Pulse) was conducted in August 2022. Manufacturer leaders from across the state, representing all major industries and a representative cross section of firm size were invited to participate, and 78 manufacturers that made up a cross section of manufacturers type, size and geographic location completed the survey. 

The Automation Pulse survey showed that in addition to the expected growth in the number of manufacturers investing in automation, the amount they are planning to invest is expected to increase significantly as well.

According to Automation Pulse survey, state manufacturers on average are planning to increase the amount they investment in automation, systems and technology by 43% over last year with a median planned investment of $400,000.

Photo of Colin Wison
Colin Wilson Service Line Leader and Senior Consultant Automation Service

And the three biggest areas of automation that manufacturers expect to invest in include: robotics (38%), upgrading equipment with integrated processes (19%), and custom hard automation (12%). 

The three most influential factors driving investment decisions are:

  1. Productivity Improvement
  2. Workforce Shortages
  3. Needing to Boost Output to Meet Customer Needs

While workforce shortages are a driver for investing in automation, most (79%) don’t expect automation to impact head count very much or at all.  This is  perhaps not surprising as the WMR reports that a majority (54%) of manufacturers also currently have openings in their facilities. 

“The good news is that the vast majority of companies (80%) are finding value from these investments, so these increased investments are expected to pay off for many in both the near and long term”, shared George Bureau, WMEP VP of Consulting. 

The top 3 constraints to moving faster to implementation with automation systems and technology identified in the Automation Pulse survey, include:

  1. Lacking time availability and/or competency with internal resources (51%)
  2. Equipment availability and lead times (44%)
  3. Prioritizing needs/issuing RFQ/Vetting Suppliers (35%)

Colin Wilson, WMEP’s service line lead for Automation, shared that WMEP Manufacturing Solutions is well positioned to help with all three of these constraints. 

And the top three areas for systems investments reported in the Pulse Survey are:

  1. Operations/Manufacturing (30%)
  2. ERP Business systems integration (18%)
  3. Plant Interconnectivity/Shop Floor (12%)

Click here to review Colin Wilson and George Bureau’s September 2022 – Wisconsin Automation, Technology & Systems Pulse Survey Findings.

Click here to view the webinar presentation of the Automation, Systems and Technology Pulse Survey.

Click here to see a full copy of The 2022 Wisconsin Manufacturing Report Key Findings slide deck.

Click here to view the live presentation of The 2022 Wisconsin Manufacturing Report Key Findings.

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