The Future of Manufacturing: 8 Trends to Keep an Eye On

Predicted trends in the manufacturing sector for comming years.
April 29, 2024 by
Boot & Work Corp. S.L., Nerea Cacheiro Barroso
In an effort to resolve difficulties, enhance procedures, and uncover economies, manufacturers are unceasingly striving. 
As we move forward in 2022, the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect manufacturing, resulting in the persistence of some 2021 trends and the emergence of new challenges and prospects. Adapting to the potential "new normal" and prioritizing business flexibility and worker safety are among the manufacturing trends that will address the singular challenges faced in recent times. Meanwhile, the relentless progression of:

  • Technology

  • Connectivity
  • Automation improvements 
will persist in offering solutions and unprecedented possibilities. 

1. 2020-2030: the ongoing decade of smart factories

In 2024, the widespread adoption of smart factories is expected to reach a turning point, shifting from isolated usage of smart technology to extensive deployment of interconnected systems that fully leverage the advantages of data analysis and inter-machine communication. This is due to several factors, including:

smart factory
  • The replacement of older machinery with new machines equipped with integrated monitoring tools and sensors

  • The pressure to stay competitive with peers who have already adopted smart technology

  • The declining costs

  • Increasingly apparent benefits of smart factory software and equipment, such as more efficient maintenance, improved process visibility, and reduced operating expenses.

2. From Green Energy to Sustainable Supply Chains: A Focus on Carbon Neutrality

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are becoming more of a concern for manufacturers, which will increase the importance of sustainable practices and the pursuit of carbon-neutral methods

Green Energy to Sustainable Supply Chains

Manufacturers may anticipate seeing increased ESG criteria from commercial customers in addition to sustainability requirements for contracts with government, municipal, and institutional clients.

3. Reinventing the Supply Chain: Reassessment in the Age of Digitalization

The initial global supply chain upheaval that occurred in 2020 made more ripples in 2021, highlighting how unstable the traditional status quo has been for almost every facility and organization. 

It follows that the supply chain will continue to be a key area for ongoing monitoring, management, and improvement in 2022, with facilities looking for innovative ways to increase flexibility and reliability while also preserving value. One such tool is data, with data-driven inventory management serving as a successful method to uncover previously undiscovered supply chain efficiency.

Manufacturers can use data to more quickly adjust to the supply chain interruptions brought on by COVID and try to reduce their unpredictable nature.

4. The importance of reshoring

Reshoring was frequently touted as an industry goal before the COVID pandemic, showing a renewed emphasis on quality, service, and quick fulfillment. In 2020 and 2021, the significance of conducting business locally was brought into stark view, and reshoring started to become more than just a trendy term. 

Reshoring in business

Reshoring will become established as a more practical and essential supply chain option in 2022, moving beyond a quick fix to a more standard mode of operation.

5. Employee safety and health

Employee safety has always been a top priority, and is less typically seen as a "trend" than as something that should be promoted daily. Like everything else, COVID-19 changed that, and new methods of keeping an eye on and maintaining employee health are crucial for both your workforce and your company. 

Precautionary protocols will at the very least continue throughout the year, with some facilities opting to use more sophisticated equipment to track employee movements, locations, and even temperatures.

6. Smarter Maintenance for Bigger Margins: The Role of Data Analytics

remote monotoring with IoT

For the past few years, trends lists have included:

  • Sensors

  • Remote monitoring

  • Connected devices
  • The Internet of Things (IOT)

and this year is no exception.

Why? On the one hand, manufacturers are innovating more successful ways to use data to drive predictive maintenance as sensors continue to become more widespread, communications are even faster and more dependable, etc. Given the financial hardship that many facilities experienced in 2020 and 2021 and may continue to experience in 2022, more effective, efficient maintenance is essential. 

Creating material cost savings is now more crucial than ever because predictive maintenance can significantly reduce unplanned downtime.

7. Leveraging Virtual Processes for Global Business Success

By enabling remote monitoring, servicing, and equipment operation — all without the need to be on-site — technologies like:

  • Digital twins

  • Machine learning
  • AI (artificial intelligence) 
  • AR (augmented reality)
  • VR (and virtual reality) 

are assisting manufacturers in navigating COVID challenges. 

AR (augmented reality) in IoT

Virtual and remote operation is consistent with other recent trends in the manufacturing process that enable access, flexibility, and safety, with communication moving closer to real-time and the computing power to truly make it seem like the operator is in the room with the machine.

8. The Art of Balancing Demand and Resources

Companies need to be more effective and nimble than ever in managing the skills gap and labor shortages due to the reality of the epidemic and current changes in the manufacturing sector. 

Manufacturers are losing money if they are unable to increase capacity and throughput in order to meet the growing demand for manufactured goods. This calls for a: 

  • Thorough analysis of all procedures

  • Identifying ways to boost productivity 
  • Assist the workforce 

while bridging the skills gap and offering state-of-the-art technical training to match current demands. 

Some of these patterns are extensions of ones you may be familiar with from previous years, while others are new as a result of the particular circumstances of the present.

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Boot & Work Corp. S.L., Nerea Cacheiro Barroso April 29, 2024
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