There’s no doubt that Industry 4.0 undeniably revolutionized the manufacturing industry by providing manufacturers with numerous new opportunities to employ advanced technologies and tools across the product lifecycle. Industry 4.0 has allowed product makers to increase operational clarity, reduce expenses, accelerate production time, and deliver first-rate customer experience and support.
Nonetheless, with 2021 being just around the corner, the time has come for us to turn our attention away from Industry 4.0 and start thinking about the possibilities of Industry 5.0. While the previous industrial revolution was all about utilizing technology to optimize and better the means of production, Industry 5.0 will exclusively be focused on connecting the human race with the machines, or in other words, the potential collaboration between humans and smart systems.
Highly depending on who you speak with, the fifth generation of the industrial revolution is either already here or on the immediate horizon. Besides, the arrival of Industry 5.0 is additionally accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
No matter which viewpoint you support, there’s little to no doubt that prolific manufacturers need to continue embracing change in order to stay relevant, ahead of their fierce competitors, and gain a fair market share in this ever-evolving industry.
Manufacturers who plan not just to survive, but thrive as well, must always leverage the most recent trends and technologies, and if you’re one of them – you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we will lay out the five trends that will dominate the manufacturing industry in 2021 and beyond.
3D Printing Will Additionally Make The Production Of Products Even Cheaper & Faster
Even though 3D printing seems to the general public like a technology out of a Sci-Fi book, this additive manufacturing technology has been present on the market for almost 40 years. Nowadays, experienced manufacturers embrace 3D printing to support rapid prototyping, which is a very cost-effective method for product designers to troubleshoot and test brand new products and manufacture items on demand rather than manufacture them upfront and warehouse them.
Besides, 3D printing is continuously transforming the costly and time-consuming process of tooling. In the past, it took months for manufacturers to develop the desired molds, jigs, and fixtures, which are imperative for the mass production of heavy equipment.
Nowadays, thanks to 3D printing, manufacturers can complete tooling sets onsite in a matter of days. 3D printing is already highly used in the automotive and aerospace manufacturing industries, and rest assured that 3D printing technology will additionally make the production processes even faster and cheaper.
Employee Safety Will Become A Top Priority
Workforce safety and security is perhaps the leading trend for manufacturers heading into 2021 and beyond. Even though employee safety has always been a top priority for manufacturers worldwide, this category takes on new significance in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Besides basic safety and security precautions and protocols like enforcing social distancing measures on the production floor, business owners must also carefully and closely observe who enters and exits their production building and which equipment and individuals they interact with.
The reaffirmed focus on workforce safety also extends to the field service. In order to minimize contact, technicians and operators need to be better prepared for each job so they can quickly complete open work orders.
This safety trend will probably directly affect supply chain visibility. Manufacturers will require more significant transparency from suppliers to track issues and claims throughout the manufacturing cycle.
Manufacturers Will Shift Their Focus From B2B To B2C
In the last couple of years, smart manufacturers have selected to transition from the standard business-to-business (B2B) model to a business-to-consumer (B2C) model. Expect this trend to continue in the foreseeable future as there are many appealing benefits for manufacturers, including:
- Shorter time to market. Instead of competing with the long and traditional retail sales cycle that requires upfront orders and delivery terms, manufacturers can now quickly prototype, test, and force products to market, giving them an apparent competitive advantage.
- Bigger profits. This way, manufacturers can get the full retail price rather than wholesale prices for their final products.
- Better brand and price control. Business-to-consumer eradicates the risk of the manufacturer’s brand to be misrepresented or diluted by third-party collaborators. Also, with this sales model, the manufacturers can fully control the prices of the product.
- More customer data. Businesses that sell directly to consumers collect customer data that can eventually result in improved products, building more extraordinary relationships, and boosted sales.
Companies interested in selling directly to their consumers will need to select a platform for their eCommerce operations that supports both B2B and B2C sales. The platform will most certainly need to deliver order fulfillment and tracking, secure payments, customer service management, and support marketing activities.
VR & AR Support Service Models Will Gain On Popularity
The ongoing pandemic has proven to be a massive obstacle to the field service manufacturing companies, preventing operators and field technicians from going to job sites to administer repairs or install equipment.
Luckily, assistive technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) make it possible for technicians to provide professional remote assistance by sending their customers VR-and-AR-enabled devices and walking them through basic troubleshooting and repair operations.
For smart manufacturers who have their thoughts on the future, these technologies present a fairly exciting opportunity. As customers were usually reluctant to explore touchless service options and preferred the convenience of having a professional come onsite to fix, repair or replace something, now, customers are open to this idea.
This market opportunity enables manufacturers to evaluate new procedures and processes with the long-term goal of making them permanent. The bottom line, clients and field service operators benefit from the diminished risk of exposure, and manufacturers benefit from exploring new lines of conducting business.
The Internet Of Things (IoT) Will Become More Important Than Ever
The IoT involves the interconnection of unique devices within an established internet infrastructure and has enabled modern manufacturers to make well-informed strategic decisions using real-time data and achieve a wide variety of business goals, including cost cuts, improved efficiency, enhanced safety, product innovation, and more.
Predictive analytics and IoT have an immense impact on manufacturing organizations, offering them new exciting opportunities to connect in-house operations and transform various business processes. Expect IoT to become even more utilized and famous in the upcoming years, as remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities are processes that are going to be hot topics in the times to come.
With the never-ending advancements of the manufacturing industry and manufacturing technologies, many trends are emerging every year, and the process will never stop. If your work line is in the manufacturing industry, always stay on top of the latest trends and try to implement as many new approaches to your manufacturing facility as possible. Now that you know the top five trends for 2021 and beyond, you are ready to take your manufacturing business to the next level.