As the year draws to a close, those of us involved in product development – designers, developers, and engineers, for example – are looking to 2017, considering what trends and changes will affect our work in the coming year.
Manufacturing, of course, is a huge part of the product development process. It’s also poised to undergo some changes in the next year, especially due to the results of the U.S. presidential election.
What are those changes? Here are a few that we think are on the way next year.
Sustainable manufacturing will grow.
Manufacturing responds to the market like any other industry, and the market for green or sustainable products is only growing. As Millennials, who as a group demand sustainable products, start making a larger and larger percentage of purchasing decisions, manufacturers will have to speed up and expand their adoption of sustainable processes.
The use of “cobotics” grows.
Robotics and automation are already in use at countless factories around the world, but not every manufacturing robot is designed to replace its human counterpart. Instead, lots of robotic machines are designed to complement a human. This is where the term “cobotics” comes from – from the cooperation or collaboration between a human and a robot to do a particular task.
This approach is especially popular right now in the U.S., particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Embrace of new technologies will mark the differences between success and failure.
Manufacturing has changed drastically over the past decades, and there’s no going back. For better or worse – or, more realistically, for better and worse – technology has made an indelible imprint on the industry. That means certain jobs are gone for good, but it also means that there are new, exciting opportunities to make products faster, more safely, and more efficiently.
Manufacturers must embrace these technologies if they want to compete in the global economy. That will require investment in multiple areas: equipment, workers, and business operations, among others.
Manufacturers will need to focus on recruitment and training to fill highly skilled, technical positions.
As the use of robotics, cobotics, and technology continues to grow, manufacturers will need more people who are trained to operate these complex systems.
Currently, there’s a real shortage of workers who have the skills needed for tomorrow’s manufacturing industry. Deloitte released a report stating that there will be an estimated 2 million unfulfilled factory jobs by 2025. If manufacturers are going to be able to operate, they must invest in training and recruitment. This means offering educational opportunities for current workers as well as future potential workers.
Consumer demand will emerge – and change – more and more quickly.
Social media and the internet have had a huge impact on the consumer product industry, and part of that involves the speed at which demand emerges and shifts. Thanks to websites like Pinterest, for example, products can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers in a matter of minutes, and demand can explode.
Of course, since there are thousands of products exploding on the marketplace all at once, this also means that Product A can be completely eclipsed by Product B faster than you can fulfill the outstanding orders for A. This means manufacturers need to be as efficient as possible when it comes to making their products so that they can get into the marketplace quickly.
Same-day delivery will transform operations and logistics.
Amazon’s same-day delivery service is where the consumer shipping industry is headed, and it’s going to have ramifications all the way up the supply chain – including for manufacturers. Operations and logistics will have to completely transform, and manufacturers will have to become more nimble if they want to fit into the new landscape.
Manufacturing is in the midst of a great deal of changes, but forward-thinking companies will be able to turn these changes to their advantage. If you’re planning to manufacture a product in 2017, Pivot can help – take a look at our Manufacturing Services here.