The world was rocked with 2020 and the unfortunate event it has brought upon everyone. It became a global battle of survival, with many companies not making it through and even more having to readjust their entire business strategy.
But it is 2021, and things are beginning to look up. The world is constantly moving, and so is the business and manufacturing industry. As things start to pick up and more businesses begin to reopen, we can expect the economy to stabilize soon.
The manufacturing industry was severely hit by the sudden decrease in the workforce. While most have managed to stay in operations, many have been forced to reducing their working capacity and accommodate fewer orders. However, with recent trends this 2021, we can expect a better future. Here are a few trends to look forward to.
The Internet of Things
The technology used in manufacturing has changed greatly over the years, and with the ever-increasing technological advancements, many operations require less and less human interference. With do-it-yourself kits now available for mass consumption, many small-scale manufacturers can make their operations even more efficient with less cost.
Single-board computers that allow for automation and interconnectivity are now easily accessible, automating formerly manual processes that limit production capacity. Popular single-board computers like Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi provide a low-cost computer ‘brain’ for manual operations, providing manufacturers an even more convenient solution for their workflow needs.
From Business-to-Business to Business-to-Consumer
The consumer market becomes more and more intelligent. With people’s increasing awareness of how manufacturing processes go, we can expect more individuals to transact directly to manufacturers. For manufacturing companies, this means a smaller workload but increased in quantity.
Services such as custom-made PCBs, direct-to-consumer 3D printing, or even small-scale object manufacturing (like t-shirts, mugs, caps, etc.) are becoming more popular as small business owners expand their businesses to answer the market’s increasing needs. And as the small business industry becomes more reliable and stable, we can see a trend of manufacturers taking on smaller jobs.
Outsourcing and Business Collaboration
Major companies often collaborate to create a unique product that answers a particular market need. Manufacturing companies will do better to imitate this and collaborate with other specialized companies to produce better material. This will increase not only their production capacity but also their market scope as well.
Tech start-ups are already onboard with business collaborations, and as it gains popularity, we can expect to see more unique products borne out of joined efforts of companies. Outsourcing, while not entirely a new trend, still seems to be relevant. Outsourcing tasks and services such as customer service response, marketing and advertising agencies, graphic design, and much more will play a significant role in the future of manufacturing.
3D Scanning and 3D Printing
3D scanning was exclusive to large industrial companies specializing in manufacturing specific products for industrial use. But with the creation of personal-scale 3D technology, both 3D scanning and printing will see an increase in activity and popularity. Personal 3D printing has been on the rise for the past few years.
Many companies are taking advantage of its accessibility to provide a wider range of services for a wide variety of consumers. Prototypes, improvements, and add-ons are among the few things that smaller-scale 3D printing can provide. Manufacturing companies have begun to take note of this to make their workflow more efficient and productive.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Training
Many of the machines that manufacturers utilize require a certain skill set to operate. There has been a lack of personnel with the skills to use these machines, however. But the advent of augmented and virtual reality for training can potentially provide a solution to this dilemma. This can increase the number of trainees handled by a company, while at the same time decreasing the time necessary—all the while providing an adequate experience for such specialists.
Another interesting aspect of this is the potential for remote work, as many countries are still marred by strict social distancing and quarantine laws. This provides an answer for the reduced employee availability and maintains consistent operations.
Exoskeleton Suits for Manual Labor
Manual labor is still an inevitable part of manufacturing, and scientists and researchers acknowledge that. With the creation of strength-augmenting exoskeleton suits, warehouses and factories can be made more safe and productive.
Exoskeleton suits that offer up to two to three times increase in strength are now available. While the price might still be too far for smaller manufacturers to afford, its increased popularity definitely spells its accessibility in the future.
With these ideas in mind, the development of the manufacturing sector can only continue to experience growth.