Manufacturing trends evolve from year to year, with the introduction of revolutionary new technology, security measures and government changes, and manufacturers must adapt to the changing demands in the sector in order to flourish.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key manufacturing trends that are prevalent in 2017 so far:
1) The rise of green manufacturing
Many manufacturers were initially sceptical about embracing green processes and materials, with focus being put on environmental benefits and not cost savings. Now companies are realising the cost-saving potential, 2017 is set to see the use of renewable energy and lean production more and more.
Manufacturers are taking steps towards achieving a green production environment, by implementing lean manufacturing practices and reducing waste. A significant reduction in costs is provided by the use of renewable energy sources, and manufacturing products with recyclable or renewable resources can also lead to lower material costs.
Now being viewed as cheaper and accessible, using green manufacturing practices could become commonplace as it drives long-term savings. Green manufacturing will continue to rise as more technology becomes available and companies realise the environmental benefits and cost savings.
2) Growth in Manufacturing Recruitment sector:
The number of job openings in manufacturing is continuing to outpace the number of available hires, and this skills gap looks to be not slowing down in the foreseeable future. There are 4,872 job roles within the manufacturing industry, so aggressive hiring is needed.
The industry looks set to benefit well into 2017. CV Library released some data from analysis of the average number of jobs in the UK’s key sectors in 2016, and manufacturing was up 26%, with applications rising by 30% and figures expected to pick up substantially.
According to statistics from The Manufacturer, manufacturing is strong with the UK currently the world’s ninth largest industrial nation. Manufacturing makes up 10 percent of GVA and 45% of UK exports, directly employing 2.7 million people.
Manufacturers must detail to potential candidates what the company’s strategy is, and how it plans to achieve its targets. Skilled, available candidates will be looking for a package with lots of benefits, and can be selective with their choice of workplace.
3) Brexit good for business:
New technology, models and investments, and company owners aim to reverse the depressing decline we have seen since the recession in 2008. Over two thirds of manufacturing firms expect to grow in 2017 despite the impact of Brexit, according to the findings of the annual Business Census 2017 report.
One major impact of the referendum has been the sterling’s rapid depreciation against other currencies, making exports cheaper, which in turn makes buying British goods more attractive.
The pound has declined by about 15% against the dollar and the euro since Britain’s referendum on EU membership. It is estimated that profits in manufacturing could increase on average by about 16% of value added, mostly due to the fall in sterling.
Many exporters have been enjoying the weaker value of the pound, though exporting success largely depends on what happens to the value of the pound, yet currently it makes goods more affordable for businesses importing from Britain.
4) Smart Technology prominent
Products are becoming smarter in 2017, and as things and trends come and go, phones, companies, and the workforce must keep up with this as well as coming up with innovative ideas.
Manufacturers often have a lack of technological knowledge and experience, yet the digital infrastructure is required to create innovative products and concepts. Smarter products are capable of collating, managing and storing data relating to usage, consumer behaviour and prominent design flaws.
Manufacturers are becoming inspired by a new generation of deep machine learning, AI, and natural language tools, and are applying them to product testing and field performance data to quickly fix causes of quality issues.
Companies will reap the benefits of this life cycle of data by starting to manufacture products in new ways. Over time, these techniques should bring product improvements as well as cost effective products for both the company and the customers.
5) Attention is on Manufacturing Cybersecurity
There has been a surge in demand for cyber security as virtual and augmented reality have become a big part of our digital lives already. Manufacturers of all sizes need to rethink, redesign, and potentially radically improve their cybersecurity strategies.
As technology advances, there is unfortunately a larger attack surface that cyber criminals can invade. From using cloud, data analytics and mobile to improve their connectivity and infrastructure, manufacturers must also ensure security is part of the product design.
Manufacturers can reduce the risk of these social engineering attacks by educating their employees on basic cybersecurity principles, and must aim to hire cybersecurity savvy professionals.
Processes such as additive manufacturing and the internet of things as well as newly created materials all bring substantial benefits to end users, and will bring further opportunities for the manufacturing industry.
As manufacturing changing trends present emerging opportunities, they also bring some challenges, such as the need for precision, speed, and profitability. Time will tell which of 2017’s opportunities will be taken advantage of and which challenges will be overcome.
David Lewis, managing director, integra people, warrington