This article describes some of the Top 8 trends to watch out for in the manufacturing industry as they reshape 2021!
- Manufacturing in 2020 and the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Moving from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0
- Employee Health and Safety is still a priority
- Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
- Manufacturers aligning business models to focus more on B2C
- 3D Printing making manufacturing easier
- ERP Systems
- Internet of Things for Interconnectivity
- Big Data
Manufacturing in 2020 and the Coronavirus Pandemic
No doubt you’ll agree that the year 2020 was unique, a year like no other. Everything in the world was hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and manufacturing across different industries were not spared from its lash. The Coronavirus’s impact was felt across several sectors and businesses in the manufacturing industry with a downward trend and a decline in production activities. In worst cases, several factories in regions across the world were shut down. Even the global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) witnessed a 5% – 15% decline as estimated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Moving from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0
With an exceptional focus on the previous year, the last few years was largely characterized in the tech space as the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution, usually described as industry 4.0, saw the explosion of concepts surrounding the IoT and cloud computing, denoted by a trend of data exchange and automation being deployed in the manufacturing industries and technologies. However, there seems to be a progression from the usual trends observed in industry 4.0, which had its lens on utilizing technology to enhance production on all levels. The fast-approaching next phase of the industrial tech revolution (industry 5.0) is about increasing sync and collaborations between smart systems and humans, enhancing the connectivity between these two pillars.
Employee Health and Safety is still a priority
Nothing remains more imperative in the manufacturing industry than the safety of those who devote their time to making things happen. Ensuring the safety and peak health condition of every single individual that is involved in the manufacturing process has been a trend in previous years, and 2021 is only getting better. Increasing safety and health practices among factories is the most prioritized trend for manufacturers in this new calendar year.
It is noteworthy to mention that workforce safety will now include COVID guidelines and precautions due to the not-yet-over war on Coronavirus. It enforces safety protocols and precautions such as mask-wearing regulations and social distancing measures, especially in segments like access to site and building, production levels, equipment logs, and access to operating said equipment assembly line and even in board rooms and meetings.
This employee health and safety trend will also impact field staff’s conduct, as operators and technicians will have to be well equipped and prepared for this phase to allow them to function effectively and safely while in the field. This trend will help reduce the frequency of on-the-job hazards and accidents, currently set to at least 400,000 injuries and bodily harm in every calendar year.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
This trend is one of the most exciting opportunities that the manufacturing industry utilizes in progressing past obstacles that have arisen due to several constraints across time and space. The use of assistive technology like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) has helped field service agents and technicians’ function effectively and still carry out the required assistance in repairs and installation remotely via these assistive tech tools.
Several manufacturers are delighted to maximize VR and AR in delivering quality products and services to their clients. Customers have also become more open to the idea of having their service providers use these touchless service options to deliver top-notch experiences. Thanks to the COVID pandemic, this remote access VR and AR tech might become a long-term fixture in operations.
Manufacturers aligning business models to focus more on B2C
In the last few years, manufacturing trends have seen a few industries have a realignment in their models from the traditional business to business B2B model to include more consumers in their mainframe, thus the rising of the business to consumer B2C model. This B2C model is projected to become a more dominant trend for this year. A few of the benefits to be derived from the B2C model includes
- Greater profits for manufacturers can get their products sold at a more profitable retail price while selling directly to the consumers, rather than selling at wholesale prices to businesses.
- A quicker market – sales cycle. The B2C model beats the traditional and archaic sales cycle of frank and upfront orders, product distribution to sales outlets. The B2C model allows manufacturers to test prototypes and get products straight to the market, yielding a competitive advantage against other competitors by allowing manufacturers to utilize an effective sales cycle.
- Access to customer data, selling products directly from manufacturers to consumers allows customer data collection to improve marketing strategy and product quality.
- Stronger reins over price determination and brand perception. The manufacturers suffer fewer chances of having their products and brand perception distorted by third-party stakeholders. They also get full autonomy in determining the prices of their products.
3D Printing making manufacturing easier
Although it may seem that the concept of 3-dimensional printing only exists in the tech part of science fiction, this tech has been active on the manufacturing scene for over four decades. In recent years, 3D printing has often been deployed to enhance rapid prototyping by skilled manufacturers. This has proved the most cost-effective approach for manufacturers and product designers to test and troubleshoot new designs and items instead of trials in the product market after a full production. 3D printing has made the manufacturing of tools and equipment less costly, faster, and with fewer flaws. The engineering, aerospace, and automotive industries are some industries that maximize 3D printing in manufacturing processes.
ERP systems are best described as foundations for operations in manufacturing. It uses automation to reduce cost, provide precise information to aid decisions, and streamline processes. The pandemic has brought about creative ways for manufacturers to involve and apply their ERP systems. The trend is rather in a data approach driven upgrades to ERP, allowing manufacturers to get creative ways to consolidate and fuse previously existing ERPs to function more effectively.
Internet of Things for Interconnectivity
IoT is fast becoming a universal method to utilize interconnectivity in the manufacturing business. The IoT has so far amassed over 31% of production processes and products incorporating smart devices and intelligence. IoT proposes a solution where a set of unique devices can be utilized for numerous innovative capabilities such as predictive and remote monitoring functions. IoT brings about new opportunities for several businesses who are seeking ways to enhance and improve operations and processes, enabling them to adapt and evolve in the digital business scene
With several organizations adopting the IoT approach of interconnectivity and predictive maintenance, Big Data is on a path to becoming a trend to reckon with than it has been in previous years. The IoT makes data collection easier than it has always been as several devices, once connected to the internet, become a hub for collection from multiple sources. These collected data are then further spliced and analyzed to give insights into business operations and strategies.
The unending trends and progressions of the tech and manufacturing industry will not cease any time soon. As several trends emerge, many more will re-emerge. The manufacturing industry is constantly dynamic, and these trends set the pace for the industry, largely determining the characteristics observed in the industry for that period.
What do you think about the current manufacturing trend? How has it affected you? What are you doing differently?