2021 Top Manufacturing Trends

After the challenges of the last 12 months, we are all excited to welcome a new year. Finally, 2021 is here!

While we are as ready as the next to usher in the new, we first want to take a moment to look back. There are some key lessons that we can carry powerfully forward.

In the past year, business has shifted dramatically. Operations either ground to a halt or had to adapt quickly to a whole new environment. Touchless transactions became the new normal. And while it has always been vitally important, employee and consumer safety became paramount. Safety became the main priority, even more so than ever before.

Flexibility, innovation, digitization, automation, and safety…these are certainly worthwhile pursuits. What’s more, the global pandemic may have driven the business forward in these areas faster than anything else possibly could have. Some of the most positive trends we began to see come about in 2020 will continue into 2021 and beyond.

Several trends stand out as a solid foundation for the way forward. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top trends we will see in manufacturing this year.

Top Manufacturing Trends That Will Be Taking Over in 2021

First things first, there is a bit of good news that is important to note.

Once sluggish manufacturing demand and declining markets are showing signs of recovery! During the global pandemic, sales took a dive across the board, across industries. Though it may be too early to rejoice, these two key components combine to give us an indication of a positive economic trend.

In short, we have cause to be hopeful moving into 2021. Not only for the upward trend in numbers, but also for the number of innovative trends that were either established or emphasized in 2020. Manufacturers are more ready than ever to face what may come.

There are three key buckets that these trends tend to fall into. Aside from the obvious (like safety), some of the biggest manufacturing leanings we are see coming (or continuing) in 2021 include:

1. Uncertainty and Adaptability Becoming “Business as Usual”

This may go without saying, but 2020 forever changed the way we strategize in business.

No longer will we feel safe, only planning for the foreseeable future. While leadership almost always understood the need for a Plan B, that plan was only sometimes formulated and even more rarely updated and tested for viability in the event of a real crisis. However, now we fully understand the need for realistic, thoughtful contingency plans mixed with built-in, day-to-day flexibility.

From our manufacturing processes to our thought patterns, we are consciously looking for ways to innovate, streamline, automate, and digitize.

Which brings us to our second point.

2. The Digital Transformation Revolutionizing the Work Landscape

During the past year, almost every process and transaction has had to be automated and rendered touchless. This means that digitization—which is certainly not a new thing—is once again thrust into the limelight. It is clearer than ever that the future of business is online.

Here are just a few of the biggest digitized and automated trends that have helped support manufacturers through recent times of crisis:

  • Online ordering, marketing, sales, and service options to promote consumer safety and business continuity
  • 3D printing and other virtual and automated manufacturing processes used to streamline, reduce resource usage, and keep operations running in the face of unprecedented workforce issues and significantly decreased profit margins
  • Remote work and virtual meeting and communication platforms that helped keep employees safe while on the job
  • The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in innovative ways, such as in field operations and training

What’s more, it is obvious that these trends will continue to move us forward long after this pandemic is over.

3. Big Data Reigning Supreme

With the digital transformation that is enjoying renewed vigor and intensity a la COVID, data collection is also happening in mass quantities. With this big data, we can do near magical things!

Data is key, from mapping consumer behavior to tracking sales trends and establishing predictive models that shape our strategies. Predictive analytics, even predictive maintenance, will serve manufacturers well as they attempt to plan and adapt for uncertain times ahead.

Data is the real foundation of a solid business strategy.

DesignPoint: Helping You Ready Your Business for the Future

At DesignPoint, we are here to help businesses strategize for the future, both foreseeable and unforeseen. When you are ready to revolutionize your efforts (and future) by building a solid business continuity strategy and growth, connect with us.

DesignPoint is here to help you get ready for whatever may come in 2021 and beyond. Let us help your business strategize to not only survive but also to thrive!