2020 created a range of unforeseeable challenges to the manufacturing sector. However, while these rapid demands weren’t planned for –  manufacturers proved how quickly they can adapt using existing technology. The market has shifted based on consumer demands and advancing technologies will support manufacturing digital transformation in 2021. Here’s how we expect this ongoing evolution to impact manufacturing trends 2021.

2020 proved that manufacturing could quickly adapt to changing needs – here is how that is going to continue in 2021.

Manufacturing Trends 2021

Increased Agility

If the last year has proven anything – it’s proven the manufacturing industry’s ability to adapt. Organizations around the world proved that leveraging existing technology to quickly pivot is the best way to maintain productivity in unprecedented times.

For manufacturing trends 2021 the ability to adapt is critical for growth. Manufacturing organizations will implement more digital transformation technologies than ever before, with 76% of manufacturing executives planning to increase these investments in the coming year. This will be done by leveraging existing technology investments through retrofitting legacy equipment with sensors for IIoT, augmenting ERPs to fill gaps in functionality, and more.

76% of manufacturing executives plan on increasing their investment in digital transformation 2021 technologies.

Bringing Manufacturing Stateside

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed supply chain issues for products made overseas and increased the necessity to manufacture in the USA. New technology upgrades will continue to advance operations and shift how business is done. In some instances, smart robots will be updated to take over more manufacturing operations but with that comes the need to update infrastructures. These changes will diminish the appeal of overseas manufacturing operations and bring many factories back to the US.

One-third of manufacturing executives plan to bring some production operations back to the US in 2021.

Edge Computing

Edge computing will see continued refinement as one of the main manufacturing trends 2021. All of the technologies that support industry 4.0 have created a deluge of data. The next challenge is utilizing this information to create actionable insights. Cloud computing attempted to solve these issues but came with a sense of latency. 2021 will see a fine-tuning of edge computing and cloud computing on the factory floor to power autonomous decision-making for time-sensitive tasks.

3D Printing

Manufacturing trends in 2021 will continue to see more investments in 3D printing. The availability to use a wide range of materials such as filaments, resins, and metals will create a  surge in 3D printing for tooling components. More companies will invest in 3D printers to reap the benefits of matching prototypes to end product materials and eliminate the need for third-party manufacturing. This ultimately streamlines operations allowing for more time and improved design iteration.

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Digital Transformation 2021

Human and Machine Integration

Step aside industry 4.0 – 5.0 is on its way. Industry 5.0 will advance integrations between people and machines with the use of collaborative robots (cobots) for increased adaptability and efficiency. Robots will be responsible for mundane and potentially unsafe tasks while workers handle complex analysis. Shifting worker focus to analysis also requires a fundamental change to operations. Managers will need to upskill their workers with retraining or bring in new talent. This labor evolution will provide new opportunities for workers to learn and create – thus making manufacturing jobs more fulfilling and appealing.

Workforce augmentation is the top investment for 24% of manufacturing executives.

Remote and Augmented Reality (AR) Tools

2020 showed a clear need for remote and AR tools in the manufacturing space. In addition to the clear benefits of safer working environments and increased efficiency, AR manufacturing trends in 2021 provide:

  • Improved training: Leveraging AR capabilities reduces the learning curve and provides a hands-on experience. Using AR technology this way is a faster and easier way to learn plus it improves employee and new hire retention.
  • Streamlined maintenance/service: AR enables expert maintenance teams to connect with remote personnel to securely troubleshoot issues and precisely guide repairs. Maintenance teams can even be centralized, and some process engineering and data management functions can be completed remotely.
  • Digital twin possibilities: One-fourth of manufacturing executives view digital twins as the most important investment out of all the manufacturing trends 2021. Digital twins will streamline product lifecycle challenges, cut maintenance costs, and simplify innovation with product simulations.

AR Concept: Industrial Engineer Uses Augmented Reality Digital Tablet to Scan Large Metal Construction, Special Effects Show Visualization / Digitalization of Oil, Gas and Fuel Transport Pipeline.

Implement These New Manufacturing Trends in 2021 with 3HTi

Advancing your digital transformation strategy using manufacturing trends 2021 requires  evaluating your current processes, identifying areas that need improvement, and prioritizing changes that reduce negative impacts. Having a better understanding of your problems will help reveal proper solutions and help you uncover the right technology solutions to make improvements. Implementing your ultimate digital transformation strategy may take some time, but a measured ROI will help prove if the technology is worth the investment.

If you have any questions or need any additional information, fill out the form below and we will help you get started on your digital transformation 2021 journey.