At the beginning of 2022, we outlined six key predictions around the trends manufacturers would have to watch for this year. Manufacturers are gradually returning company funds and focus back on some more innovative efforts as the recovery from the pandemic takes greater hold, including big data analytics, B2C pivots, smart devices, and much more. Now halfway through the year, let’s take a pulse check on how each of these trends has evolved and left their mark on the industry so far:
Big data and data mining
With the most disruptive aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, manufacturers have been able to return more fully to focusing on data. This includes both big data and data mining. Big data means gathering the plethora of data from new embedded technologies and optimized processes and getting it to us for a closer pulse on the customer. Data mining has also picked up steam in the industry as manufacturers continue to grapple with labor shortages. It helps alleviate some of the stressors associated with the labor challenges by providing a means to eliminate tedious processes and automate instead. We’ve seen several companies look for ways to make their data go further and use the cloud to host their advanced analytics initiatives.
Talent and production line stability
Long before the added weight of pandemic disruptions, labor stability has been perhaps the most domineering challenge for the manufacturing industry. Continued investment in the means to offset talent gaps and secure greater stability on the production line remains top of mind for most organizations. Unfortunately, with wages lagging behind for many manufacturing workers, high turnover rates continue to plague the industry. That’s why options like broadening remote work options, strategic partnerships for talent training, better environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) efforts, and managed services are critical for bringing more loyal talent back into manufacturing.
Predictive maintenance reporting
Another complementary trend we’ve seen maintain priority for many manufacturers seeking greater stability is a focus on improved reporting for predictive maintenance of the business. Manufacturers are seeking better forecasting to reduce downtime and boost cost savings with an eagle’s eye look at factory machinery and output. The global market for predictive maintenance in industrial manufacturing was estimated to reach $3.9 billion USD by 2026 as more companies make an effort to compete with more reliable production lines.
The pivot to B2C
More and more manufacturers, especially those that have successfully matured with cloud applications, are considering a partial or full pivot to the B2C model. B2C provides manufacturers with greater control over their brand image and a better understanding of end customers, which drives better R&D and product innovation for the long term. Manufacturing can transition most successfully by revamping customer touchpoints and employing eCommerce platforms to move some or all of their product lines to this model. The B2C pivot isn’t for all manufacturers, however, and you can use our ebook, Simplifying the Move to B2B2C for Manufacturers, to evaluate whether or not B2C has a role to play in your organization.
Smart devices: IoT, AR, VR, and 3D printing
Smart devices have been transforming the factory floor and are only continuing to do so with exponential speed—67 percent of organizations in the industrial manufacturing space have an ongoing smart factory initiative. IoT is among the most prominent avenues manufacturers are employing today for smart factory transformation (you can learn about the intricacies of this innovation in our recent IoT webinar now available on-demand). Additional strong contenders to IoT include AR, VR, and 3D printing for an overall rehaul of production lines. Also of note so far this year is how more manufacturers are experimenting with the possibilities 5G holds for their business: closed-loop manufacturing, adaptive manufacturing, predictive maintenance, and extended reality (XR)-based worker training and safety are just some of the use cases identified in a recent MIT Technology Review article. It’s an exciting time to reconfigure how products are made and sent out to customers in manufacturing, and decision-makers in the industry must ensure they are allocating the appropriate funds and resources to the platforms most relevant to their goals.
Lastly, as we predicted in January, ESG investments have made more headway this year than in previous years. Manufacturers are eager to make their environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) practices more robust and marketing-ready as a way to recruit not just loyal partners and customers but also talent. One example of this push is The Greater Lighthouse Network, an organization that has been highlighted by the World Economic Forum as a community of over 100 manufacturers that are using intelligent manufacturing to clean up practices and innovate more sustainable business. Leaders from some of these organizations suggest goal-setting a zero-carbon factory, employing AI to support sustainability, and leveraging smart technologies as ways to jumpstart your own ESG effort.
If your company is considering greater investment in any of these trends or strategizing on digital transformation as a whole, Simplus knows how to help with a people-focused methodology for adopting new technologies and streamlined processes. Reach out today!