Manufacturing Trends 2021: How Your Business Can Become More Agile

Manufacturing is one of the largest industries in the globe. There’s a feeling of uncertainty in the manufacturing world at the moment. Both the intermediate and long-term future of the sector will revolve around one thing: the trends happening in 2021. With that in mind, manufacturers need to pinpoint the kind of developments to look forward to this year. They must also know how to utilize them to their benefit.

Due to the uncertainty at the moment. For any company to thrive, its operations must be agile, cost-effective, and efficient.

We look at the top trends to keep track of in 2020. We’ll also cover expected challenges, and how you can run your business in the most agile way possible.

Top Manufacturing Trends, 2021 and Beyond

1. Smart Manufacturing & 5G

2020 is the year that we’re likely to see the full rollout of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 5G technology is going to happen on a much larger scale and will have a substantial impact on Smart Technology. Manufacturers will be able to boost latency in massive proportions and interact in real-time.

Smart factories are becoming popular in the manufacturing field. They depend on connected devices to support technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence. Typically, intelligent gadgets are also capable of sensing the environment. As specialized factories continue to emerge, manufacturers must be able to adapt the networks that interconnect them effectively.

Based on a recent article from AT&T, 5G provides manufacturers with an opportunity to create regular streams of income. The industry will also benefit from cost-effective energy and utility. As pinpointed in a study by Ericsson, “the projected market value in 2026 will be $113”. That alone depicts an impressive 7% revenue growth from the current figures.

2. Machine Learning & AI

Manufacturing is quite a complex industry. Changes take a lot of time to incorporate. However, the use of analytics, AI, and machine learning will reach new heights despite the slowness.

These technologies are sure to improve manufacturing efficiency and raise revenues. The more complexities your firm faces, the higher the chances to use machine learning and AI technologies to get that competitive advantage you need to be on top.

Manufacturers can also implement such technologies to improve performance in other areas of the business. Whether it’s in your customer relations, on your factory floor, or in the supply chain department, they will come in handy.

3. Wearable Technology

The sharp rise in the use of IoT (Internet of Things) has paved the way for wearable technology. Manufacturing firms of all sizes and types are exploring- and investing in- wearable gadgets with sensors that can help their workforce optimize production.

Electronic features present in wearable devices enable manufacturers to monitor and raise workplace productivity, efficiency, and safety. Employers will also collect valuable information, offer customized experiences, and track all production stages seamlessly. Headsets with heads-up displays, smartwatches, and other wearables will provide essential data more quickly than ever.

4. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a big concern for every sector, and manufacturing is no different. Connected devices will inevitably become the norm. And with this, vulnerability to cyber infiltrations will grow.

As this trend takes shape, manufacturers must be aware of cyber risks. They should streamline their processes to fit the requirements of today and the future.

5. AR & VR

The twin concepts of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are finally beginning to make imprints in the world of manufacturing. They are likely to impact the areas of machine maintenance and user training in several ways, including:

Remote support- Augmented Reality will enable maintenance personnel to carry out tasks from a remote location. As a result, firms will make strides towards bridging the skills gaps and boost overall efficiency.

“Hands-On” Training- Both employee training and testing can take place in a VR environment, thus yielding a low-risk process.

6. Greater Focus on Customer Service

Customer support has always been a top priority for most manufacturers. But with the consistent integration of technology, it is set to become even more crucial. As manufacturing tools of industry 4.0 become a standard feature, customers will have direct visibility into the manufacturing process. In the long run, there will be a concerted push for customer quality.

Manufacturing Challenges for 2020

As the new decade kicks in, manufacturers are already anticipating a fair share of challenges in 2020. One thing is for sure; industry 4.0 is here and evolving swiftly. While new technologies continue to unlock hidden value in multiple production processes, hurdles along the way are inevitable.

Here’s our pick for the top challenges manufacturers are likely to face.

  • Labor Shortage/Skills Gap

Deloitte estimates that nearly 4.6 million jobs will become available in this decade as a result of changing skillsets and retiring ‘baby boomers.’ Close to 2.6 million of those jobs, however, will remain vacant as the gap between job opportunities and the number of capable workers widens.

Even in the era of robotics and service automation, skilled employees are still crucial for their problem-solving knowledge. Moreover, they can perform analytics and occupy managerial slots. To bridge the broadening skills gap, manufacturers will have to creatively train existing employees to attract the few top talents available.

  • Ever-dynamic Technology

From cloud computing to robotics, the challenge for many manufacturers is to keep up with the frightening pace of technological growth. Often, there is a gap between understanding the need for device acquisition and the actual implementation. According to a recent Forbes study, 90% of firms understand the vital role that technology plays, yet only 40% feel that they are offering the best tools for success. To solve this, manufacturers should simplify business processes and implement appropriate technology.

  • Supply Chain Collaboration

In the coming months, supply chain complexities will continue to trouble manufacturers and other stakeholders. Growing supply complexities will give rise to persistent technical hitches and customer complaints. Human nature will once again become a top issue.

There will be a lack of trust among key players, which will frustrate technology deployments and collaboration efforts even more. While experts continue to explore the reasons behind mistrust throughout the supply cycle, issues of pricing, data monetization, and data ownership reign supreme.

How Manufacturers Can Improve Business Agility despite Challenges

Business agility is the end game for manufacturers. In one way or the other, firms have to stay agile to make great use of industry opportunities.

As we know, the manufacturing sector is part of an increasingly uncertain and volatile environment, where rapid change is a must. Currency fluctuations, technological breakdowns, customer demand, raw material shortages, and other factors contribute to that climate.

However, manufacturers can cope with such changes by raising their agility in 4 key areas:

Product Agility

This type of coordination emphasizes the things that you can do in the product design phase. It allows manufacturers to swiftly and economically adapt to meet changes in the fragmentation of consumer demographic, overall demand, and disruptions in supply chains. The concept is to make the product flexible by design. Several ways to achieve this include:

  • Platforming
  • Modularization
  • Late differentiation in the designs
  • Software-based configuration
  • Standardization

Manufacturing Agility

Organizations should consider more flexible manufacturing processes that are not only more resilient but can also recover from disruptions swiftly. The best way to achieve this is to build supply chains and factories that can withstand market pressures.

Collaboration Agility

To survive in the current environment, manufacturers must look to foster collaborations across all stakeholders in the product life cycle. They must do the same across geographies and time zones. A collaborative norm will help spot market trends early and quickly have the internal production teams in place to adapt as needed.

Financial Agility

In these times of industrial uncertainty, firms need to understand and anticipate the possible shifts in the market. As such, they will be able to adequately counter changes in supply costs (such as prices, energy, commodity, and so on). It is possible through adapting supply contracts, hedging in the financial markets, shaping demand generation, and fine-tuning pricing.

Wrapping Up

Trends and challenges in manufacturing will take a toll on organizations in equal measure. Therefore, business owners must learn to mitigate the ever-present uncertainties in the sector. For businesses to come out on top, they must review all of their processes, relationships, and outputs routinely. It will go a long way in ensuring they have the agility to pivot based on trends and demands. Johnson Electric can help you achieve business agility in manufacturing through our top-of-the-line solenoid solutions. On the back of our core values, we endeavor to make our customers successful by providing reliable motion systems. You can expect the highest level of quality and performance. Whether you need microelectronics, relays, pumps, valves, or any other product in this specification, don’t hesitate to contact us today.