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AEM’s five manufacturing trends to watch in 2021


January 11, 2021
By Association of Equipment Manufacturers

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editorial andrew snook

Milwaukee – Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) says the immediate and long-term future of the manufacturing industry will be defined by the development of a number of ever-evolving and prominent trends. These trends are poised to have a significant impact in 2021, so AEM says it is important for manufacturers to develop a keen understanding of what they are, how they will grow over time, and how they will impact the industry and the customers it serves.

With that in mind, here are five manufacturing trends to watch in 2021:

COVID-19 and Employee Safety

It almost goes without saying that workplace safety and compliance with CDC guidelines and OSHA regulations (along with local safety measures) will remain front of mind for manufacturers as 2021 gets underway. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in many parts of the world, organizations will need to continue to be vigilant in their efforts to protect employees. Doing so, however, requires a significant investment of time effort and resources on the part of company leaders.

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While an efficient rollout of an effective vaccine for COVID-19 would bode well for an eventual return to normalcy for the manufacturing industry, the impact of such a rollout won’t be felt for some time. In the interim, organizations will need to continue practising social distancing in the workplace, restricting visitors to facilities, encouraging the practice of good hygiene, and ensuring employees are healthy and fit for work before allowing them on the job.

Connected Workforce

The desire to equip workers with technology capable of stay connected and collaborate from a distance has long been on a trend on the rise within the manufacturing industry. As older generations continue to leave the workforce and are replaced by younger employees, and the rise of the big data era in manufacturing takes shape, finding tools and technologies to make an increasingly spread-out and remote workforce as productive as possible is a top priority for companies today.

While the widespread impact of the pandemic has caused this trend (and the adoption rate of related tools and technologies) to grow, it remains critical for manufacturers to provide training and resources to employees as they try to maximize productivity from afar.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been a trend to watch in manufacturing, and this year is no different. As it continues to grow in prominence and becomes more and more widespread over time, IoT technology will drive value for the industry by allowing organizations to make measured, informed decisions using real-time data in an effort to increase efficiency and positively impact their bottom lines.

According to a recent study conducted by the MPI Group, approximately 31 per cent of manufacturing production processes now incorporate smart devices and embedded intelligence. Furthermore, more than one-third of manufacturers have established plans to implement IoT technology into their processes, while 32 per cent plan to embed IoT technology into their products.

Localized Production and Near-Sourcing

 The rise of customization and personalization has given way to large opportunities for manufacturers willing and able to succeed in a localized economy. By rethinking the way products get out to the public, organizations can craft an ecosystem of smaller, flexible factories located near existing and prospective customers.

Manufacturers are used to thinking on a global level. However, shifting their focus to a local level, they may be better able to meet the ever-changing needs, wants and preferences of the markets they serve. Consumers are making it abundantly clear that authenticity matters and a localized approach to manufacturing is proving to be among the most effective ways to for organizations to respond accordingly.

The impact of COVID-19 also cannot be discounted. The pandemic has led manufacturers to reevaluate and reconsider sourcing, largely due to supply chain disruptions (especially in the earliest days of COVID-19). As a result, manufacturers have made a concerted effort to bring their operations closer to where their offerings are sold, and there has been an increasing desire on the part of many companies to source raw materials from domestic suppliers. All of this is being done in an effort to avoid pandemic-related disruptions and support the U.S. economy during these uncertain times.

Predictive Maintenance

It’s no secret the ability for manufacturers to predict impending equipment failures and prevent equipment downtime is incredibly impactful to their bottom lines. Advancements in technology now allow organizations to do just that.

The benefits, according to a recent blog post from EAM-Mosca Corporation, showcase why predictive maintenance (PM) is so valuable to organizations today. PM helps companies:

  • Reduced costs
  • Fewer failures
  • Minimize scheduled downtime
  • Optimize parts delivery