Five trends that will predict the future for manufacturing

The manufacturing industry had a difficult year last year, with the ongoing Covid pandemic and global chip shortage having severe consequences for 2021. There is still optimism despite all of this. In December 2021, a report from the British Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply showed that both manufacturing output and new orders had increased, leading to a strong finish to the year.

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What can we expect beyond 2022 to sustain this momentum? What role can start-ups play in a revival of manufacturing?

Manufacturing output, new orders, and employment all rose at 2021’s end, despite supply chain constraints

1. Pandemic Response becomes Post-Pandemic Strategy

Two things have been learned in the last two years. The first is that the effects of the pandemic are going to be felt for some time, and not just indefinitely. The second is that the black-swan events of the proverbial future can and will happen.

This means that we must not only make some of the recent rapid changes permanent and make them more stable and operationally sound but also rethink many aspects of our business operations.

Are they flexible? Are they strong? How are they capable of supporting future events that could have a significant impact on the business’s performance? This is not just about a pandemic. It also includes other events, such as natural disasters or economic disruptions.

Businesses across all industries will transition from the firefighting era into an era that is characterized by operational change and restructuring in 2022.

2. Cloud Computing/SaaS: The New Normal

Over the last two to three decades, Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), has been slowly increasingly in momentum in adoption with the curve becoming steeper and steeper. Cloud/SaaS is gaining popularity among IT departments, CIOs CFOs, CEOs, and other professionals. It has many business advantages over traditional in-house client/server IT architectures.

It is now a ‘cloud first’ strategy for many organisations looking to develop new technology capabilities.

However, again the pandemic played a part in this recent acceleration to a Cloud-First strategy. The rapid deployment of cloud-based solutions and their migration to them solved the problem of remote workers having access to business information and processes from anywhere, anytime.

Companies that had previously been reluctant to take the leap due to misunderstandings or lack of understanding often found themselves forced to do so. Legacy systems, especially with an eye to cloud/SaaS-based options, are therefore a top priority for digital transformation.

Jason Chester, Director, Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS believes 2022 will be the “tipping point” in cloud adoption.

Most legacy renovation projects will adopt a cloud-first strategy.

3. Codification of Tribal Knowledge

Many people acquire significant skills, knowledge, and experience in many industries that are unique to their jobs. Most of this tacit knowledge is not documented and seldom codified, as it is mostly stored in the mind.

An operator might, for example, have worked in a specific area of work for many years and developed a certain skill set using a specific piece of machinery. She simply knows what it takes to complete the tasks and get the most out of the equipment. What happens if she or her immediate peer are unable to complete the tasks due to the Covid pandemic, other events, etc.

Chester says that 2022 will be a crucial year as organizations begin to codify tribal knowledge, which is still highly tacit.

“Not only can we use workflow and business process management solutions, but we also have emerging solutions in areas like predictive and prescriptive analysis and leveraging machine learning.

2022 will be pivotal in ensuring widespread adoption of prescriptive analytics, machine learning techniques, and machine learning technologies.

4. Digital Transformation Momentum Accelerated by Sustainability

Digital transformation is changing with sustainability becoming the driving force. All industries and all sizes of organisations are beginning to recognize the need to be more environmentally responsible in their business operations.

Organisations will increasingly look to digital solutions for optimizing efficiency and productivity to reduce their environmental impact, such as waste, resource consumption, carbon emissions, and recycling.

Digital solutions to optimise efficiency and reduce wastefulness

5. Industrial Automation is the Key to Information Automation

Chester explains that “we now have the technology capability to effortlessly capture and analyse data in real-time using sophisticated algorithms and present the results in highly visual and intuitive visualisations.”

This allows for faster and more efficient decision-making. We can make critical decisions in real time to ensure industrial processes run optimally. If this is not possible, we can better predict when and how problems will occur before they affect productivity.

Data is quickly becoming the next battlefield in the war for efficiency and productivity.

He concludes that industrial automation is delivering ever decreasing returns, just as low-hanging fruit is being harvested. Therefore, I believe 2022 will see cognitive and information automation in industrial environments becoming more common.

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