Top 10 post-pandemic era manufacturing trends

Agile factories, IoT, predictive maintenance, workforce transformation and security, resilient supply chains and data duplication – all of these were pandemic-driven trends that topped the manufacturing agenda in 2020.

But what awaits us in 2021 and beyond? Below are 10 trends leading to how manufacturers will go through three phases of response, recovery, and renewal of operations in the post-pandemic era.

  1. Reset to cope with COVID-19 changes: In recovery mode, manufacturers restart activities, re-hire, supply, and create a plan for a stable state. As the economy reopens, manufacturers are looking for new, sustainable execution strategies, while closely monitoring changes in business patterns.
  2. Employee safety and the new job: As production recovers, 61% of companies will develop hybrid models, through more automated processes and with less human intensity, according to Deloitte. One of the challenges is to improve the ability of employees to work in these more technology-oriented environments. The 2020 Deloitte and MAPI ecosystem study reveals that more than 80% of manufacturers surveyed believe that talented ecosystems are critical to their competitiveness and 41% have already begun to establish new relationships, i.e. , collaborate with technical schools, to develop robust talent ecosystems.
  3. RA / VR: To combat the continuing shortage of skilled labor and new proximity limitations, many manufacturers are taking advantage of virtual and augmented reality. Manufacturers will use augmented reality and virtual reality to assist you in remote training, repair guidance, assembly guide, remote product tours, and quality reviews.
  4. IoT and digital twins to improve resilience and flexibility: 87% of executives agree that digital twins are becoming essential to their organization’s ability to collaborate on strategic ecosystem partnerships, according to a survey by Accenture. Twin digital technology helps remote training and execute scenarios of what happens if interruptions occur. IoT sensor data helps control assets and allows the creation of connected products.
  5. Supply chains and rugged control towers: Control towers will provide companies with end-to-end visibility across the supply chain by correlating data between siled systems. This will also provide enhanced capabilities to predict outages via smart alerts and provide better collaboration and exception handling across the supply chain.
  6. More visibility through Big Data: Big Data using more third-party data sources will improve forecast accuracy and resilience, provide better vendor evaluation, improve trend analysis, and better determine customer preferences. Companies can also leverage Big Data to optimize pricing for the best returns.
  7. Predictive maintenance: Unplanned downtime is costly. According to a study, of 82% of companies that have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years, these outages lasted an average of four hours and cost an average of $ 2 million. With data from IoT sensors connected to machinery, companies can automatically collect critical wear information from components to schedule routine repairs and maintenance during scheduled downtime, rather than breaking down unexpectedly.
  8. Artificial intelligence: artificial intelligence will be comprehensive throughout the organization, will be used in forecasts and schedules, predictive maintenance, optimization of workshop schedules, recommendations of contact center agents, cross-selling recommendations / cross-selling, white space detection and price optimization.
  9. Agile decision making: This strategy allows companies to quickly identify and respond to customer needs to protect and grow the front line, as well as react quickly and manage various business disruptions (supply chain, etc.). Agile decision making allows employees to be more productive and collaborate effectively. The strategy also provides fundamental robustness by increasing the modularity and availability of basic IT, helping to safeguard digital assets and ensuring financial liquidity.
  10. A greater focus on sustainability: a growing recognition of the environment and the need to conserve natural resources have allowed sustainability practices to be general for both consumers and organizations. Customers and future employees want to know the sustainable practices that companies pursue. These practices also help reduce packaging and energy costs and can improve profits. According to Capgemini’s survey of 750 organizations, 77% of companies say their sustainability approaches increase customer loyalty and 63% have seen revenue gain.

Manufacturers should pay close attention to these trends and align their business and technology strategies accordingly to maximize their operational performance and resilience in the post-pandemic era.

By Paul Denmark and Tim Harris

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About the authors

Paul Denmark has over 30 years of experience in leading multifunctional ERP and business transformation projects in a wide range of manufacturing and distribution companies in the United States, South America, Europe and China. He is a senior consultant for Ultra Consultants, a company that has been at the forefront of consulting, selection and implementation of ERP for 27 years for digital transformation and competitive advantage.

Tim Harris has over 15 years of experience in ERP, CRM and BI consulting. His experience ranges from building solutions for the postal industry to the supply chain of the postal industry with SAP to manufacturing, distribution, AEC and professional service solutions with Microsoft Dynamics. He is the strategy director for Arbela Technologies, a global consulting firm and certified gold partner in Microsoft Dynamics 365, which enables organizations to digitally transform and grow their businesses.

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