The manufacturing sector was hit hard by the pandemic, with many forced to shut down operations in the face of pandemic restrictions and then supply chain issues. This has forced many manufacturing companies to reconsider key processes that underpin their operations.
Changes in technology and the increasing importance of protecting the environment are also helping to lead the way for new manufacturing trends to emerge. In 2022, we can expect smart technology, sustainability and a growing trend for improved worker safety provisions to take centre stage. It’s also likely that big data, supply chain issues and automation will be at the forefront of manufacturing trends.
The companies that weathered the storm of the global pandemic the best are those that were able to quickly pivot their focus and adapt quickly to change. This is essentially how manufacturers can expect to succeed moving forward.
Smart technology including automation and the internet of things is making it easier to get an oversight of everything that is happening in a manufacturing setting at a glance. This will help to speed up decision making and reduce instances of downtime.
Delays in a manufacturing setting can set back production by hours, days and even weeks, so when all components in the process are able to talk to each other, production processes become streamlined and efficient.
Smart factories are also cheaper to run because they use less energy, which translates into savings in all corners of the business.
Sustainability isn’t a buzzword that can be thrown around in the hope of collecting gold stars for your efforts, it’s a growing trend that could help to make manufacturing more efficient. When sustainability becomes a core focus of the manufacturing process, it translates into savings on everything from energy to raw materials.
Manufacturing companies are not only looking at ways to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel sources, they are also looking for ways to avoid virgin materials in the manufacturing process. Working with reclaimed and recycled materials can drive down costs and increase demand from consumers.
Prioritising worker health became a key focus during the pandemic when the world realised that those working in factories had become front line workers. We needed them to show up at work every day and be safe while they were doing it.
Improved health and safety and a focus on employee wellbeing is perhaps one of the few positives to arise from the pandemic. It’s helpful if employers make this push, rather than waiting for workers to demand change. With a shortage of qualified workers, it’s important for employers to recognise their contributions and make sure they are protected in the workplace.
Global supply chain issues have hampered efforts to ramp up manufacturing again as the pandemic restrictions have eased. This is forcing many companies to think about where they source their raw materials and if there might be a better way to manage these demands.
Manufacturers need to take an agile approach to manage their inventory to ensure fewer disruptions going forward. Automation and big data are two of the big developments that are making this easier for companies to achieve.
As mentioned above, data is becoming more relevant in a manufacturing setting. Gathering data is only one part of the equation. Manufacturers also need to be able to process and extract insight from the data in order for it to be useful.
We often think of data as being something for technology companies and B2C companies to consider, but data can help to streamline key manufacturing processes and provide added insight for decision-makers. It’s also essential for managing inventory and protecting your business from future supply chain issues.
Automation and the rise of data-driven insight both mean that more can be achieved with a lot less. This means that you can achieve a lot more with a smaller workforce. Making sure that you have the right people on your teams is, therefore, more important than ever before.
Workers need to have the right skills to be able to leverage the new technology and not rely on old methods with larger workforces. Upskilling your workforce to be able to make the most of this technology could require adding new members to your teams. Working with a manufacturing recruitment agency will help you to identify skills gaps in your teams and find the right people to fill them.
Alongside the real-world data and automation, virtual processes are going on behind the scenes to help decision-makers take action. Virtual processes include things like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and augmented reality. These virtual processes are set to transform the manufacturing landscape and translate into better margins and lower running costs.
The future looks bright for manufacturing, as long as companies are willing to invest in the opportunities that are right in front of them. Seizing the technology and adapting it to your business is a surefire way to future-proof your manufacturing facility and ensure you are ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.
We only have to look to the past and see how industries have failed before to see how important it is to stay ahead of the times and always strive for improvement. Whether that improvement is in the form of better decision making, smart investment in renewables, or even scaling back your workforce with the help of AI, automation and big data.