We may be three months into the year, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen it all. This year brings a few new trends to the manufacturing industry that’ll have us working smarter not harder—and many of them involve the emergence of new technologies and big data.
According to IndustryWeek, the entire supply chain is undergoing a complete business transformation in response to changing dynamics from shifting consumer expectations, time to market and global competition. Specifically, advances in technology—along with the changing labor dynamics and improving economy—means that retailers must sell products faster and cheaper than their competitors.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your industrial workflow, make sure you keep an eye on these 2015 trends:
- Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The CSC Global CIO Survey: 2014-2015 found that 81 percent of manufacturers believe big data has a positive effect on production and efficiency, and 65 percent believe it will be a strategic business driver moving forward. Perhaps even more fundamental to this trend is the Internet of Things (IoT)—an innovative approach to technology that introduces the concept of 24/7-connected, automated devices. This, according to Accenture, will not only transform companies, it will open up an era of economic growth and competitiveness where the “intersection of people, data and intelligent machines will have far-reaching impacts on the productivity, efficiency and operations of industries around the world.”
What’s SMAC? It’s the latest buzzword for “social, mobile, analytics and cloud”—a technology toolkit that drives higher customer engagement and growth opportunities in viewing the four elements as a “stack.” This goes along with today’s mentality that one must be always online. Mobile phones are now advanced enough to provide immediate access to online resources, be it across the street or around the globe. Analytics give manufacturers a way to review and analyze a wide range of big data and make relevant business decisions. And if that wasn’t enough, the cloud offers businesses access to essential documents anytime, anywhere. According to IndustryWeek, the conversion of these four elements is helping early adopters in the manufacturing market increase efficiencies and change.
- Rise of “Next-Shoring”
Manufacturers have typically focused on proximity to suppliers and customers when making business decisions, according to InformationWeek—thus causing them to move around the world in order to produce enough inexpensive products, meet global demand and find more affordable labor. However, with “next-shoring,” manufacturers are no longer moving operations to other countries. Instead, they’re reinventing how they operate entirely. Through new advances in technology, they can be close to innovation centers and their customers without physically moving their main operations. Central to this industry-wide shift is collaborative technology such as audio, video and content sharing tools. Companies can now seamlessly work together across the globe.
With the advent of new technologies, consumers now expect products quicker and at competitive prices. A 2014 Institute of Supply Management report found that manufacturing revenues are expected to increase in 15 different manufacturing industries this year. And according to Manufacturing.net, this, coupled with the other trends outlined, shows that 2015 will be a good year in manufacturing—helping the industry possibly outpace the GDP for the first time in many years.