Manufacturers are constantly looking for newer technologies, strategies and systems to stay competitive. As we pass through the pandemic phase, we can already see some of the trends that are gaining importance and upgradation:
Effective management of the supply chain is important in manufacturing, which saves costs while delivering the necessary product as per customer needs. We see companies investing in technologies that affect every step of the manufacturing process, purchase, inventory, assembly, logistics & sales.
More emphasis is further being given to technologies, such as AI, ML and AR/VR, that have enabled manufacturers to efficiently enable remote monitoring, servicing and equipment operation without being physically present. The larger use of robots, especially cobots, is being seen extensively in non-value-added work, like moving heavy products, warehouse automation, etc.
With the possibility to remotely collect real-time data by connecting devices and cloud technologies, communication has become faster and more reliable. As we can collect real-time data, effective predictive maintenance of equipment can be carried out to avoid undesirable breakdowns and effectively address the issues before they arise and save on maintenance costs & downtimes and enhance the life of the equipment.
The pandemic has also made manufacturers think about their supply chain. Reshoring the supply chain will boost as more customers would like to do business with facilities closer to them with a renewed focus on quality, supply speed and service.
Additive Manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing trends in the industry as it significantly saves on time and costs. Additive Manufacturing is beneficial in low volume and high mix-manufacturing of complex parts in the shortest possible time. More complex parts can be easily made by the metal deposition process in 3D Printing, which significantly reduces the development costs. Importantly, it allows cost-effective mass production of metal parts.
Employee retention & training
As there is a shortfall of skilled workforce in the manufacturing sector, it has become more important how we retain and train our workforce. One way is to empower employees to do valuable work and minimise physical and mentally demanding tasks. For example, if you add automation tools to work, employees/workers can easily learn the technology, thereby enhancing their skillset and working collaboratively with technologies that will streamline the processes and reduce repeative tasks. Maintaining and monitoring employee health has become very important for every business, and more focus is also given here.
The pandemic has also taught us to be more agile. A company that responds quickly, adapts to unpredictable market situations and challenges, will emerge successful. Companies must be agile to be resilient in operations, processes, sourcing and distribution. Agility will surely be an important task and on the priority of many businesses with the lessons learnt from the pandemic.