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Looking back at the trends of 2022 in manufacturing

Dec 6, 2022 | Manufacturing

2022 has been a year of growth for manufacturers of all sizes. While the larger economy may still loom uncertain for many industries, manufacturers are closing out 2022 with reasons to rejoice: both GBI and PMI reflect an expansion of production and new ordering in the industry over the course of the year, and every dollar spent in manufacturing creates a $2.68 impact on the economy at large—one of the highest sectoral multipliers. This celebration and success is, at least in part, due to the strategic and innovative trajectories decision makers in the manufacturing space are taking their companies on.

At the start of 2022, we made six predictions for the overarching trends that would dominate the industry and shape transformation initiatives throughout the year. Now at the end of 2022, we’re taking a look at how each focus area fared and what’s slated to continue being a priority in the new year to come:

Big data and data mining

A few years past the initial shock of the pandemic, and manufacturers have finally been returning some focus to data as a critical foundation for their modern technology platforms moving forward. 2022 has seen several manufacturers pick up their data practices, dust them off, and make deliberate efforts to reinvigorate them for a future-proof destiny. Leaders in the industry realize they cannot make significant gains in many other industry trends and demands—such as predictive maintenance and smart devices—without first supplying the big data fuel they require. While many manufacturers remain in the early stages of data maturity, it’s been exciting to see 2022 re-spark the motivation to put data to good use throughout the industry. Learn how manufacturers like Ford are leveraging Salesforce’s latest and greatest innovation, Salesforce Genie, to turn data into “real-time customer magic.”

Stability: Talent and production lines

Manufacturers in 2022 have tried diligently to address two key sources of stability issues: talent and production. While the dependability of supply chains continues to recover and incite production issues down the line for many, talent stability has shown signs of promise in 2022. Many manufacturers are finding ways to embrace both the remote/hybrid flexibility today’s talent is after as well as the shift toward more technologically-minded roles. Manufacturers need more talent equipped to manage the high tech solutions and data platforms they want to adopt, which requires a different skill set than what has traditionally been sought after for factory floors, widening the scope of where manufacturing looks for talent. By prioritizing these skill sets and offering the benefits and flexibility they desire, manufacturing is inching towards a promising solution to years of talent shortage. 

Predictive maintenance

Hand in hand with both the big data and production stability trends already mentioned is predictive maintenance. This has been a major focus of manufacturers in 2022 due to its immense cost-saving potential and tendency to reduce critical downtime failures. This is a great investment for both manufacturing decision-makers and customers. Business leaders can use this data to save money and reduce downtime, so the bottom line doesn’t suffer, and customers also have the opportunity to receive more consistent service and a more seamless customer experience with minimal logistic disruptions. When your data is working for your future in this way, you know you’re doing something right. Some popular types of predictive maintenance we’ve seen take off this year for manufacturers include condition monitoring and machine learning. We expect this trend to continue with eager buy-in from stakeholders in 2023.

B2C considerations

Another trend that has picked up steam in 2022 for manufacturing is the gradual pivot to B2C or D2C lines of business. Manufacturing is still predominantly a B2B focused industry—but that doesn’t mean the lure of B2C customers and profits isn’t something to consider if your offerings and organizational structure are prime for it. Manufacturers who have already made the jump and begun operating B2C eCommerce options are seeing higher margins and better brand control due in large part to B2C’s greater emphasis on customer experience. However, we’ve also seen manufacturers try too hard to make their B2B processes fit for B2C eCommerce and not yield such success. It’s important to make sure your organization is first, a good fit for B2C lines of business, and second, approaching this new revenue source as a completely new offering that needs dedicated resources, management, and processes. 

Smart devices

Smart devices are a bustling realm of activity for innovative and forward-thinking manufacturers, from AR, VR, and AI equipment to IoT and 3D printing. In 2022 we saw continued rising investment in these technologies as manufacturers make every effort to be future-proof and profitable in an increasingly technological and digital age. While getting data management under control outweighs the implementation of smart devices as a priority for most manufacturers, that doesn’t mean smart devices are forgotten—rather mastering dynamic data management is a necessary precursor to widespread integration of these devices so they can run optimally and yield the best results for the industry. We believe that 2023 will see more manufacturers debating the various smart devices available to them and setting courses for the eventual implementation of the most suitable applications as they elevate their core data processes to be mature enough for them. 

ESG efforts

Finally, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts like sustainability have long taken a backseat for manufacturing organizations, especially in the initial aftermath of the pandemic’s economic scares. But 2022 was a good year for seeing the beginnings of renewed energy (pun intended) behind sustainability initiatives in manufacturing. While we foresee sustainability continuing to lag behind other more pressing trends for the industry like supply chain stability and data management, a growing number of manufacturers are making the leap to truly prioritize ESG efforts and seeing the rewards. The recent ratification of the Kigali amendment, and the increase in jobs and innovation it will encourage, are extra encouragement to make sustainability a priority in manufacturing. Manufacturers that make genuine efforts to control their footprint and measure what really matters will win the smart, prospective buyers of today’s market as well as a rising generation of talent that prioritizes working for environmentally minded companies. 

Want to take better charge of any of these initiatives in your manufacturing organization? Simplus’ manufacturing CoE can help with industry-catered solutions. Reach out today.  

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Authors

David Rivas, SVP of North America, MFG and SURE
David Rivas
SVP of North America, MFG and SURE at | + posts

David is SVP of North America, MFG and SURE  at Simplus.