5 manufacturing industry trends for 2021
GRAD4 names 5 key industry trends to keep an eye on in 2021.
Technology / IIoT
As we enter the third month of the year, the unique circumstances of 2021 have already played out on many global stages. From a historical change in power in the US, to the ever-present need to combat the growing climate crisis, the manufacturing industry undoubtedly continues to shape and be shaped by the forces around it.
This article covers these emerging trends and discusses how you can use such trends to help your company make the best of implementing these trends into your operations.
- Sustainability: Though many manufacturing industries and technologies across the globe continue to grow exponentially, this growth is ultimately bounded by the limits of our planet. With several financial incentives arising out of the urgent need to combat climate change, the growing presence of sustainability has become more and more common.
Despite the manufacturing industry requiring large amounts of energy and natural resources at times, actions such as implementing waste management programs, purchasing carbon offsets and undergoing energy-efficient improvements can help to both reduce the carbon-intensity of manufacturing and encourage other firms to pursue sustainability as well.
- Industry 4.0: The past decades have seen an influx of technology in all aspects of the manufacturing industry. The recent wave of technological changes has been referred to as ‘Industry 4.0’ and refers to the mass digitization and the implementation of machines which have the ability to collaborate and gather data as they work.
Embracing the trend of Industry 4.0 is no easy task, but small changes can help your company progress towards a fully digitized future. Small changes such as beginning to explore methods such as CNC machining or gathering new forms of data may help your company to find the areas in which you would benefit from digitization most.
- Artificial Intelligence/Internet of Things: Adding to the trend of digitalization, artificial intelligence (AI) has also brought about revolutionary changes to the way materials are produced and companies are operated.
Despite the perceptions that AI is difficult to implement or only accessible to experts, there are ways to implement AI in small steps without having to hire a large team of experts or invest millions in new technologies. For example, your company may look into implementing simple AI technologies onto a few machines at a time and collecting data on how these changes have improved efficiency.
- Re-structured work life: Though we are beginning to witness the effects of vaccine rollouts across North America, many experts believe that recent changes to our work routines will stay around for much longer. Working from home means that more companies may have to accommodate virtual offices and meetings, even if they do plan on going back to in-person work days.
With such permanent changes, manufacturing companies are able to now completely restructure their organizations. From providing employees the choice to work remotely for a few days to eliminating physical offices completely, these changes can not only cut costs, but also provide employees with more time and flexibility.
- Reshoring: The growing strength of North American industries mean that the need to outsource production to Asia is becoming obsolete. Especially when it comes to specialized and digitalized manufacturing processes, clients value being in close communication with their suppliers so that they are able to ensure that their products are the best possible quality.
The search process to find a local supplier is also becoming much easier. With local manufacturing hubs growing due to specialization and government investment, North American suppliers are able to take on projects of all sizes and specifications without sacrificing good prices, clear communication and fast deliveries.
Overall, these trends are creating fundamental changes in not only the way manufacturing companies are operated, but also in the very definition of manufacturing itself. Staying updated with the latest technological developments and industry insights is essential to ensure that your business can continually provide the best experiences possible for your clients, customers and employees.
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