Increasing competition from new-age, nimble, and tech-savvy companies is challenging the status quo of most manufacturing businesses today. As these new startups eat into the margins and market share of established corporates, there’s a lot of work to do! To weather this competitive storm and overcome the chaos caused by the pandemic, manufacturers have to align their operations and workflows with changing business scenarios and adopt technology-led, enterprise-wide digital transformation.
Such transformation can allow them to foster a digital culture, unearth highly accurate data-based insights, streamline operations, reduce compliance effort, enhance customer experience, and boost agility and innovation. But, for transformation to be a success, manufacturers keep up with the latest trends.
Digital Manufacturing Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2021
- Workplace safety solutions will become increasingly important: Although workplace safety has always been a priority for manufacturing businesses, with the manufacturing workforce being one of the very few who cannot work from home, 2021 will see the industry embrace several new solutions in the light of the pandemic. In addition to basic safety precautions such as enforcing social distancing measures and frequent sanitization, in 2021, manufacturers will be seen embracing innovative QR-code-based visitor management systems as well as AI-based facial recognition and authentication systems. These systems will help track which individuals or equipment the workforce interacts with as well as restrict unauthorized people from entering or exiting the facility – thus ensuring a COVID-free premise.
- Energy management solutions will witness amplified adoption: As global warming becomes a growing concern, 2021 will see companies adopting digital manufacturing solutions that support green and clean energy initiatives. It is estimated that revenue in the Energy Management segment will reach $7.96 billion in 2021. Predictive building energy management systems that employ IoT gateways will enable manufacturing businesses to track energy usage as well as predict future usage based on historical trends. Continuous data analysis will provide malpractice warnings via BI dashboards and allow manufacturers to make informed business decisions to optimize energy usage in the long run.
- Predictive maintenance will continue to hold significance: Although predictive maintenance is no longer a “new” trend, given the impact of even the most minor of issues in terms of repairs, maintenance, downtime, or loss of productivity, it will continue to hold significance in 2021. According to research, the predictive maintenance market will grow to $4.9 billion in 2021. Right from condition or continuous monitoring to generating alerts when a predefined threshold is crossed: 2021 will witness substantial adoption of predictive maintenance technologies by manufacturers to maximize equipment performance and lifespan, minimize downtime, optimize workforce productivity, reduce cost, and improve revenue.
- Blockchain technology will become even more popular: For manufacturing businesses struggling to evolve their products throughout their lifecycle, blockchain technology will enable them to gain greater visibility across the supply chain. This is especially true in the post-pandemic world, where companies are seeking novel ways to increase the resilience of their manufacturing ecosystem. Analysts expect blockchain in manufacturing to grow at a CAGR of approximately 78% between 2021-2025. Using blockchain, manufacturers will be able to not just streamline operations but also track assets with unprecedented precision. The technology will enable manufacturers to revolutionize how they design, engineer, build and scale their products – while increasing transparency and trust at each stage of the production lifecycle.
- Cybersecurity adoption will see a huge jump: The manufacturing industry is witnessing a steep rise in ransomware and other security attacks, due to the increased attack surface created by the sea of IoT devices. According to a report, the number of ransomware incidents involving the manufacturing sector increased 156% between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020. Since such attacks can compromise manufacturing operations and bring production to a standstill, in 2021, another digital manufacturing trend that businesses will be seen adopting is cybersecurity. They will take a more holistic approach to secure their digital systems via the adoption of innovative networks, cloud, and IoT security solutions for efficient and timely threat detection and response.
The ever-changing complexities in the manufacturing landscape have made it extremely difficult for manufacturers to drive sales, service, revenue growth, and cost savings. The pace of digital transformation warrants manufacturers to evolve rapidly and embrace innovative systems across the manufacturing ecosystem. Keeping up with the latest trends in digital manufacturing can help companies in navigating the complex landscape of new-age solutions and also improve service capability and ultimately lead to sustained cost reduction.