Top 7 Manufacturing Trends For 2021
Manufacturers are continuously striving to improve processes and identify efficiencies, and manufacturing trends in 2021 will strive toward these goals. As in any new year, manufacturing industry trends will be largely driven by technology advances, marketplace needs and the objectives of the business. For 2021, however, the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to loom large over the top manufacturing trends that we will see.
From new facets of worker safety to new definitions of business agility, the manufacturing trends 2021 has in store will be, in many ways, a response to the unique challenges of 2020. The ongoing march of technology, connectivity and automation enhancements is poised to continue as well.
Read on to discover our forecasts for 2021 manufacturing trends.
The Top 7 Latest Trends in Manufacturing for 2021
1. Recalibrating Agility
“Agility” has long been a buzzword in manufacturing as it is in general business, and for good reason. In unpredictable markets, the business that can adapt and respond to challenges most quickly will often be the most successful. 2020 placed agility in a new light, redefining it as necessary to respond to unforeseeable circumstances, and illustrating the breadth to which a facility must be truly agile to be resilient: in operations and process management, insourcing, in distribution, and (in some cases) even in the purpose and function of the business. With the lessons of 2020 in mind, agility as a goal will almost certainly be a much higher priority for many businesses.
2. Planning for Post-Pandemic
Facilities must be ready to operate in “the new normal” — which, in some ways, has already taken hold but will, in a much more significant way, define itself throughout 2021. Depending on your business, that may mean responding to unpredictable demand (high and low), navigating reopenings and the potential for future interruptions, exploring new partnerships, and knowing when and how to scale operations.
3. Supply Chain Reassessment
There is nothing like a worldwide supply chain disruption to drive home just how precarious the normal status quo is, for nearly every facility and business. Thus, it is unsurprising that a 2021 trend will be an unflinching look at supply chains, with facilities seeking creative ways to add flexibility and reliability while also retaining value. Data is one such means, with data-driven inventory management as an effective way to identify previously unknown supply chain efficiencies.
4. A New Take on Reshoring
Reshoring is another trend that seems to make strides every year, driven, previously, by a renewed focus on quality, service and fulfillment speed. In 2021, reshoring will get a boost as more customers seek to shore up their supply chains and do business with facilities that are closer to home.
5. Employee Safety and Health
Always a primary concern, employee safety is not often viewed as a “trend” so much as something that should be observed and fostered every day. Much like everything else, COVID-19 changed that, and new ways of monitoring and maintaining employee health are as important for your workforce as they are for your business. Minimally, precautionary protocols will continue throughout the year — with some facilities choosing to employ more advanced equipment to monitor employee locations, movement and even temperatures.
6. Data-Driven Maintenance as a Margin Enhancer
Sensors, remote monitoring, connected devices and the Internet of Things (IOT) have appeared on trend lists for the past several years, and that continues this year. Why? On one hand, sensors continue to become more commonplace, communications are even faster and more reliable, and manufacturers are innovating more effective ways to use data to drive predictive maintenance, etc.
More effective, efficient maintenance is crucial given the financial hardship that many facilities faced in 2020 and may continue to face in 2021. Since predictive maintenance can vastly reduce unplanned downtime, creating material cost savings are now more important than ever.
7. Increased Reliance on Virtual Processes
Technologies such as digital twins, machine learning, AI (artificial intelligence), AR and VR (augmented reality and virtual reality) are helping manufacturers navigate COVID challenges by enabling remote monitoring, servicing and equipment operation — all without the need to be on-site. With communication approaching real time, and the computing power to make it truly seem like the operator is in the room with the machine, virtual and remote operation is in keeping with other recent trends in the manufacturing process that enable access, flexibility and safety.
Some of these trends build on those with which you may be familiar from past years, and some are new as a result of last year’s challenges. As a technology-driven maintenance company, ATS can help with your challenges and objectives for 2021 and beyond to lead your operations into the this next decade. For more information, contact ATS today.