Manufacturing trends to watch

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19th May, 2022

3 major manufacturing trends to watch in 2022

Find out how people, the environment and technology are driving changes in the manufacturing industry in recent times.

Over the past two decades, the manufacturing industry has slowly but steadily changed its focus. Where profitability was once the main goal, changing cultural norms and consumer demand have seen companies focus more on sustainability and the environment, social issues, employee wellbeing and technology

As we slowly make our way out of an extremely challenging two-year period, manufacturers are facing high costs, inflation pressures and continuing supply chain issues.

Major advances in automation, robotics, AI and data analytics will be key to manufacturers increasing productivity and efficiency as they recover. Tech investment is already happening – 74 percent of manufacturers surveyed said they planned to invest in tech over the next year. These tools can also be part of an employee wellbeing strategy, reducing the amount of tedious, repetitive work required and empowering staff to take the initiative and problem-solve.

Sustainability hasn’t fallen off the agenda either. For many manufacturers, it’s a long-term part of their business strategy.

Demand for sustainably produced goods and an increasing focus on ethics and waste in production means that sustainable practices are an essential part of doing business, not just a feel-good add-on. The statistics bear this out, with 83 percent of manufacturers citing sustainability as a key part of their business strategy.

While the worst of the pandemic may be over, businesses are still dealing with unprecedented change and ongoing disruptions. With no clear endpoint, they’re looking to invest in tools and strategies that will take some of the pressure off.

Here’s what we’re seeing among our manufacturing customers for the year ahead.


Accelerated digital transformation


Technology has flourished over the last two years, and we can’t see that changing any time soon. Tech budgets are on their way up, but technology is a broad term.

Here’s how different types of existing and emerging technology could impact the sector.

Robotics

When most people think of manufacturing tech, they think of robots taking over jobs on the production floor. Advances in robotics won’t necessarily do that, but they can offer quicker, less wasteful and far more efficient production of your product.

AI

This type of tech can help you spot inefficiencies in your systems, provide automated quality control and even predict consumer demand based on past trends.

Automation

Like robotics, automation may be seen as a replacement for your staff – but that’s far from the reality. Automation is about using digital technologies to do the busywork and repetitive manual tasks, so your staff have more time to work with customers or on the business. It can also help you deliver a smoother, more consistent experience for customers and staff – ideal in today’s competitive market.

Data analytics

Access to real-time data is a key part of any digital strategy. Whether you use a centralised business management system or a range of different systems, you need quick access and built-in analytics to help you process and understand your data. The insights delivered by these tools aren’t just for reporting – they can help you make better day-to-day choices and long-term decisions.


Centring sustainability


Sustainability in manufacturing isn’t just a box-ticking exercise. Done well, sustainable manufacturing is an end-to-end goal, encompassing everything from the production and transport of raw materials to manufacturing processes and materials in your facilities to packaging and delivery.

Sustainability falls under the ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) umbrella of non-financial business goals.

Digital tech solutions are part of the sustainability package. Data analytics can help track sustainability targets, while business management platforms and other purpose-built process solutions can help streamline business processes and minimise waste.

By offering a full view of the supply chain, tech can help identify redundant processes and eliminate inefficiencies, which can reduce the power, transport and materials needed to deliver your product. It’s about finding many small opportunities for improvement.

While the ESG journey is well underway in many companies, there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area. Rather than a process with a defined end goal, it’s an ongoing, overarching approach to running a business.


Resilience in people and process


In a turbulent business environment, resilience is a crucial quality for success. If your business isn’t set up to pivot when the market changes, weather challenging global events or financial disruptions and adapt as new technology becomes available, you’re more likely to struggle when things get difficult.

In manufacturing, building resilience means investing in your people and continually improving your systems and processes. It’s about setting yourself up for minimal disruptions and being ready to grab opportunities as they arise.

As the pandemic has shown, people are a key factor when it comes to resilience. Businesses that can retain staff and build on their skills tend to be more successful than those dealing with rapid turnover, staff shortages and little engagement from their people. This could mean paying fairly, creating a positive culture and offering opportunities for growth.

Technology can be a driver of resilience – in both your people and your systems:

  • A business management platform can automate manual tasks, giving your people more time to work on business-building activities.
  • The right platform can help you automate and streamline key processes, saving time for you and your staff.
  • Remote access to business tools and data lets staff work from home or out in the field.
  • Smart data analysis helps you adapt to changes in the market promptly.

Bringing it all together with digital transformation


As the manufacturing industry emerges into the post-COVID environment, things will look different. Growth and profitability are still essential, but that focus is tempered with a growing awareness of the environment, sustainable manufacturing processes and the importance of staff wellbeing.

Technology is the needle pulling these disparate threads together. The right tech can deliver endless benefits – more efficient process management, advanced automation, AI-driven data analysis and tools to help your staff work more effectively – and find satisfaction in their roles at the same time.

MYOB Advanced Manufacturing is a flexible, scalable cloud platform designed for manufacturing. The extensive suite includes applications for production, estimating, engineering, material planning, scheduling, product configuration and more. It’s a powerful way to build resilience and flexibility into your business in the new digital economy.

MYOB Advanced Manufacturing is the only cloud ERP platform designed for Australian manufacturers – find out how it can transform your business now.