The worldwide economy continues to evolve with new and developing technologies. And as a large, critical sector of that economy, the same is equally true for manufacturing.

That's because manufacturers and industrial facilities are increasingly turning toward automated technologies to help resolve the unprecedented challenges they face. Among them, a shrinking labor force that often doesn't walk in the door with the skillsets manufacturers need most. Efficiency is also in focus, as organizations ensure their assets and resources are fully utilized.In addition, sustainability is also a challenge. Not only in the sense of waste and energy, but to minimally disrupt the social and environmental ecosystems a business thrives in.

Yet, a manufacturer's ultimately goal is to be profitable, so the ultimate arbiter - productivity - can never be sidelined.

As result, technologies like data acquisition, industrial networks, robots, digital platforms, material handling and many more that are central to manufacturing operations have advanced and blossomed quickly. And so too have the ancillary technologies that support these.

Each year, as a leading provider of essential automation and integration technologies, Rockwell Automation completes and releases its State of Smart Manufacturing report. The report is a census of the manufacturing engineers, executives and decision makers from around the world. Those insights not only serve as a snapshot for where the industry is at today, but also help illuminate the path toward the next generation of automation.

GlobalSpec readers can access the report on its release on March 26.

Rockwell Automation and GlobalSpec editors have also teamed up on a special week of automation content, which will be published throughout the week. Check back in to see what's new - and also explore our archive of historical content.

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From our archives

Realizing the Potential of Industrial Robots

Last year, with Rockwell Automation's help, GlobalSpec produced a seminal roundtable series aimed to help manufacturers of all sizes better understand the robotic and automation technologies within reach.

In this session, panelists from Rockwell Automation and leading SDOs, such as CSA Group, ASTM, NIST and AMT, as they discuss the impact of automation on manufacturing productivity.