Manufacturing is the foundation of a country, an instrument of rejuvenation, and the foundation of a strong country. At present, the ongoing epidemic has caused manufacturing companies to face huge challenges such as supply chain instability, transportation problems, worker shortages, and inflation. In the face of this strong and ongoing challenge, many companies have been forced to accelerate the pace of digital transformation.
As the core of digital transformation, technologies such as cloud computing, robotic process automation, and low-code development have created countless opportunities for the manufacturing industry to explore new solutions.
This article summarizes 6 major trends in the global manufacturing industry in 2022, and invites you to discuss the real situation of the current manufacturing industry.
01 Consumer-Driven Manufacturing
The report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of my country pointed out that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. With the rapid development of technology today, the needs of consumers are also changing with each passing day. Many manufacturers are too far away from consumers, making it difficult for manufacturers to respond to the products and services consumers need in a timely manner.
Today, customers are more and more picky about the needs of manufacturing companies, and they expect the manufacturing industry to provide customized products and services with transparent delivery processes, preferably the same day. However, the traditional business model obviously cannot do this. Manufacturing companies must be highly agile and flexible if they want to differentiate their businesses and remain competitive on a global scale.
In the era of consumer-driven manufacturing, manufacturers can implement strategies such as digital quality control, asset location monitoring, and automated material replenishment to improve operational efficiency, improve responsiveness, and get products to consumers faster. Technology can empower users and stakeholders to choose digital interactive experiences.
02 Stable and predictable supply chain
“Digital supply networks and data analytics can effectively help manufacturing companies take more flexible and multi-layered measures to deal with unexpected supply chain disruptions.”
Currently, manufacturing companies are in a period of high market supply and demand volatility, and most purchasing managers will continue to face a series of systemic problems caused by high consumer demand, rising material and freight costs, and slow deliveries.
Supply chain stability is critical for manufacturing companies, and supply chain disruptions are not only frequent but also costly in subsequent problems. Many manufacturing companies are currently researching new models that can make supply chains and logistics more predictable. Using technologies such as AI, data analysis, and sensors to replace manual labor, it is convenient for supply chain managers to identify patterns, predict purchasing needs, and manage inventory more efficiently.
03 Connected Services
“The manufacturing business model is shifting to pay-per-use and pay-per-production, where customers don’t pay for the actual product, but for the benefits the product brings.”
While technology is enhancing the operations of manufacturing companies, it is also changing the services they provide to customers. The technology-enhanced manufacturing industry can collect data at every key node in the customer’s business links, accurately analyze the collected data, and continuously improve the quality of products and related services. Connected services also create additional revenue streams and higher profit margins for manufacturing companies.
04 Industry 4.0 and the digital economy
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is built on the foundation of the digital revolution, and current technologies will continue to deepen the connection between the physical and cyber worlds.”
In 2013, Germany formally proposed the concept of Industry 4.0 at the Hannover Messe. Its core purpose is to improve Germany’s industrial competitiveness and take the lead in the new round of industrial revolution. The third industrial revolution brought us digital technology, and Industry 4.0 will bring hyperautomation, the Internet of Things, smart factories, and big data. The advancement of these technologies will also make a qualitative leap in the digital economy. Technology is advancing rapidly, and manufacturing companies need to continuously adapt their business models, improve their operations, and complete tasks faster and better than ever before.
The digital economy has spawned a number of companies, products and services that are highly dependent on modern digital technologies, such as Netflix, Soundfield, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft from abroad. And with the development of technology, the competitive environment is also changing. For example, Netflix has been at the forefront of digitalization by providing streaming services, while Blockbuster, which once dominated the US video rental market, has lost the digital battle.
05 Circular Economy
The ability of manufacturing companies to deliver products globally at speed and at scale is bound to put pressure on our environment. According to the World Economic Forum report, US manufacturing accounts for 23% of the country’s direct carbon emissions, and European manufacturing emits 880 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. At the 75th United Nations General Assembly in 2020, China proposed the goals of “carbon peaking” in 2030 and “carbon neutrality” in 2060. This goal also puts forward higher requirements for the sustainable development of current manufacturing enterprises. More and more manufacturing companies are turning to a circular economy.
The circular economy uses technologies such as AI and machine learning to automate processes, simplify operations and increase efficiency. Each manufacturing stage follows a recycling-refurbishing-remanufacturing model to reduce waste and lower costs, thereby reducing the company’s carbon footprint in the production process. Digital processes can provide manufacturing companies with real-time insights to help them make quick decisions and move towards sustainability goals.
06 Super Automation
Hyper automation is one of Gartner’s key strategic technology trends for 2022, referring to “a disciplined and business-driven approach to rapidly identifying, reviewing, and automating as many business and IT processes as possible.”
Hyper automation needs to be achieved through the coordinated use of technologies such as AI, sensors, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), low-code development platforms, and business process management (BPM) tools.
Manufacturing is to some extent a highly isolated environment, and many manufacturing companies are still highly dependent on manual processes. Hyper automation can take over human tasks and make operations more transparent. Manufacturing companies can confidently hand over highly repetitive but critical workflows to automation technology, which frees up employees to take on more creative and complex tasks.
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