Manufacturing is changing rapidly due to the adoption of new technologies, shifting global dynamics, and evolving consumer preferences. From the adoption of AI and automation to a renewed focus on sustainability, here are five key trends shaping the industry.
1: Embracing Industry 4.0 and Smart Factories
Factories are getting smarter, and manufacturers are increasingly embracing Industry 4.0 and smart factory technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, GenAI, and cloud computing to enhance efficiency and productivity. Building smart factories isn’t about replacing humans but instead empowering them with tools that make production faster, safer, and more reliable. According to Deloitte, 86% of manufacturers believe smart factory solutions will be the primary driver of competitiveness in five years, while 83% say these solutions will transform how they make products.
2: Tackling Workforce Shortages with Automation
The manufacturing sector has long faced a workforce shortage. Nearly one-quarter of the manufacturing workforce is 55 or older, and one report predicts a shortage of 2.1 million American manufacturing workers by 2030. To help fill the gap, manufacturers are turning to robotics and automation.
Through robotics, companies can consistently complete repetitive, hazardous tasks without fatigue or risk to human workers. Meanwhile, low-code solutions help automate everything from data entry and reporting to waste management and equipment monitoring.
3: Leveraging AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are no longer buzzwords; they’re a reality. McKinsey & Company predicts a $6.4 trillion global impact in manufacturing by 2025. Today, manufacturers leverage AI to analyze vast amounts of data, predict maintenance needs, adapt to demand shifts, and optimize supply chains. The result? More intelligent and responsive manufacturing processes that can adapt to changes quickly and efficiently.
4: Strengthening Business Intelligence and Analytics
Knowledge is power. And with 3-4x more data than companies in other industries, manufacturers have the greatest potential to mitigate risk, uncover hidden patterns, and unlock new opportunities. By gathering data from multiple sources and perfecting the ability to analyze and act on this data quickly, manufacturers can reduce waste, improve quality, and reduce shop floor variability.
5: Improving Sustainability
Sustainable practices aren’t just good for the planet; they’re also good for business as more consumers seek to do business with environmentally responsible companies. Manufacturers are increasingly aware of their environmental impact and are taking steps to reduce it. Deloitte reports that 67% of companies have started to use more sustainable materials, such as recycled materials and lower-emitting products, and 66% are working to increase their energy efficiency.
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