The world is upside down. Everything has changed. Tomorrow is a big question mark.
What does this mean for the future of manufacturing? Those who act on the new normal will have fertile ground to grow, according to these predictive trends from IndustryWeek.
Trend #1: The revival of (automated) domestic manufacturing. Many are feeling the pain of using less expensive offshore supplies for basic needs. When COVID hit, the western world wasn’t equipped with the necessities to combat the pandemic. Moving forward, countries will likely use domestic manufacturing in critical segments as part of their plan to build up more strategic resilience. And automation, which can easily be reshored and deployed domestically, will play a key part in the revival and create new jobs for digitally-savvy workers.
Trend #2: Decoupling of supply chains. The global pandemic has revealed serious flaws in the supply chain, especially for manufacturers who relied on a limited set up suppliers. Those who invest in building more transparent, resilient supply chains through a diverse range of global suppliers will prevail, while suppliers will seek to diversify their client base. Supply chain risk management tools will flourish, leading to faster digitization. Governments will invest more resources into understanding the complexities of supply and distribution chains for critical goods, leading to better policy and business decisions. And all of this greater visibility, coordination and collaboration across the global supply chain will ultimately drive a highly efficient and more resilient one.
Trend #3: Even more emphasis on data as the world’s most valuable resource. More than ever, the coronavirus pandemic made access to reliable, real-time data a life-or-death necessity. Now western nation will need to invest even more heavily in 365/24/7 connectivity and deploy 5G networks faster. Manufacturers will need to accelerate their industrial IoT deployment, including sensing, data visualization, remote collaboration tools and AI-based insights across operations. Control-tower views of data and insights across operations will become standard.
Trend #4: Digitization as a competitive advantage. Over the last decade, the smart ones have been those that invested early in AI and IoT technologies that enable greater efficiencies in predictability, capacity and flexibility of supply chains. Companies that embraced these technologies are already seeing a 7% revenue growth advantage over their peers, according to McKinsey. This advantage is only expected to grow in a post-COVID world.
Trend #5: The rise of the “virtual shift.” Virtual work won’t just be the norm for office workers anymore. As the world continues to distance, manufacturers may lose up to 50% of their onsite personnel. But operators still need to run machines, maintenance staff still need to make repairs, and external vendors and contractors still need site access to provide service and support. This will result in the growth of the “virtual shift”: more offsite specialists who are continuously connected remotely to support the reduced “physical shift” of onsite personnel. Fueled by real-time data, AI-based insights and a range of communication and collaboration tools, the virtual shift will help digitize and scale much-needed expertise across organizations, leading to a more focused, effective and ultimately productive onsite workforce.