Huge Changes from 5 Trends in Manufacturing

Trends in manufacturing on the rise

IMAGE CAPTION: Leaders are looking to these 5 trends Trends in Manufacturing - Upward pointing arrow on graph paper by Geralt on Pixabay

Many predict this year to be the  manufacturing sector’s strongest in 15 years. Right now, there are five strong trends in manufacturing occurring at factories that are change the whole picture of “making things.”

1) The Emerging “Regionalized Manufacturing” Trend

Three influeners shape this trend; the need to reduce time to market, the insecurity of long-distance supply chains, and need for fast response to consumer input (see Trend #4 below.)  The end result is movement towards producing things locally where they are consumed.

Rather than manufacturing in the cheapest labor pool, companies look at the Total Cost of Operations (TCO.) Important other costs such as shipping, quality and intellectual property securtiy now share priority. Locating production near the point of consumption results in quick response to local changes in market, or offer customization suited to the local populace.

2) No One Dodges the “SMAC Stack” Trend

The strange nick-name of “SMAC Stack”, refers to  Socia Medial, Mobile phones, Data Analysis and Cloud software. Tier 1 manufacturers now must interact with the public in more ways than ever before. A recent survey by Zoomerang showed social media being the 3rd most commonly used mode for marketing, behind #1 the company website, and #2 email newsletters. This was more popular than direct mail and online adverts.

The B2B (business to business) marketing channel buzzes with Social Media as well. A 2013 Forrester Research paper showed that 56% of B2B decision-makers either wrote blogs, webpages or posted video content. An amazing 74% of these busy people took time to comment on other B2B blogs, article posts or websites. Proof of this trend in manufacturing can be seen as  98% of the 382 North American and European business decision-makers at companies with more than 100 employees, read blogs, watch peer videos or listen to podcasts (Listen to FactoryoftheFuture.Org’s Podcast.).

[Forrester Report: The Media Habits of B2B Customers]

Ready access by cellphones, tablets and laptops, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies at work, make having a vibrant public presence essential. This  pressures OEM suppliers to adapt how they market, communicate and plan with their supply chain and customers. By 2019, the global social business software market will reach $10.3 billion.

3) Growing the supplier “Ecosystem”

2019 is shaping up to be the year of the industrial ecosystem – throwing out the idea that a supply chain is one-direction only, and looking at the supplier-customer relationships as a community that works together to support the customer.

The entire supply chain – including manufacturers, distributors and retailers – is undergoing a business transformation. Responding to changing consumer expectations, time to market, and intense global competition. This trend in manufacturing is quickened by the huge growth of  the Internet and mobile economies.

British Petroleum (BP) adapted their supplier relationship, and cut spending by working as a team with suppliers.  They reduced processing costs of POs, invoices, and tracking details. BP desired to “wake up” their suppliers, get the most from them, and give them the ability and directive to work together. This resulted in shaving $800 million from a $3 billion IT budget, and sole-sourcing specific roles to each of the selected vendors. A win for all who participated.

4) Customer experience becomes a focus

According to an IDC white paper, “The Future of Manufacturing,” sponsored by Infor, the Fourth trends in manufacturing, is creating a greater customer experience. Improving customer retention, differentiates a manufacturer from competitors, and increases sales force effectiveness. While this is a strong trend in manufacturers, change in the customer experience has been slow, with less than 10 % of current manufacturers seeking to create a customer-centric culture.

5) The Internet of Things (IoT) increases automation AND job opportunities

The incoming young workforce grew up with computers and easily manage high-tech job functions.  Manufacturers can now move people out of repetitive, boring, or dangerous jobs using automation. This frees up employees and talent to work on R&D, programming, quality and other technical type work. We can now redefine what it means to have a career in manufacturing.

IoT allows for condition-based maintenance, which is driving efficiencies as businesses save on labor and service costs. Access to real-time production, machine error and warning data increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

New machines come with wireless capabilities as standard. Open-source computuer programs like MT Connect allow machines to talk to smart phones, tablets and cloud data-analytic engines. As 3-D printing “adds in” with regular manufacturing, we will create more using just the computer and programming machinse.


The FactoryoftheFuture.Org will keep you in-the-know of trends in manufacturing as the future moves forwad! So watch this space for more on how to stay up with the pack!

What other trends have you seen?

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