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Top 7 Manufacturing Trends for 2022

Frontline Trends Report
Manufacturing Trends 2022 with Beekeeper

This year has proved to be both dynamic and disruptive for the manufacturing industry and 2022 shows no sign of slowing down.

Manufacturers are still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and face challenges like:

  • The labor shortage  
  • The skills gap
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Workers’ roles with the rise of automation
  • Retaining and attracting new employees

We’ll be looking at the must-know trends that will shape manufacturing in 2022 and how companies can better prepare for the future.

Download our 2022 Frontline Trends Report to find out how to improve the frontline employee experience.

Trend #1: Increased Output Amidst a Decline in Labor Force

Beekeeper's guide to manufacturing's declining labor force

Over the past decade, we’ve seen an overall decline in the number of manufacturing jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing is projected to shed over half a million jobs between 2012-2022. This 0.5% decline is still far slower than the 2.4% rate of the previous decade.

Continuing into 2022, we’ll continue to see manufacturing companies shed jobs. At the same time, output in manufacturing will increase, as companies are ramping up production post-pandemic. But increased output in manufacturing isn’t a new trend. In fact, output has been expected to increase 2.4% over the past decade.

Some factors causing increased output and a declining labor force include:

  • Labor shortage
  • Rise in automation
  • Skills gap

Moving into 2022, manufacturing companies will have to keep up with increasing demand while retaining their skilled workers

For frontline industries like manufacturing, employee retention is critical for keeping up with the demand in output. One of the best ways to level up your employee retention rate and reduce turnover is to implement a company mobile app like Beekeeper. With Beekeeper, companies can:

  • Create a workplace culture that makes employees want to stay
  • Offer mobile training programs to bridge the skills gap
  • Ask for feedback to improve the employee experience

Trend #2: Continued Efforts to Solve and Manage Supply Chain Issues

Beekeeper's guide to supply chain struggles

Given the global shortage of materials and high energy costs, supply chain bottlenecks and delays are expected to last into 2022.

Manufacturing companies are dealing with distribution delays, particularly for international supply chain networks. According to Bloomberg, the cost of transporting a container from Asia to Europe has risen tenfold since 2020. Christopher Tse, CEO of Hong Kong-based Musical Electronics Ltd. puts it succinctly:

“We can’t get enough components, we can’t get containers, costs have been driven up tremendously.”

At the same time, consumer expectations remain as high as ever so manufacturers have to develop workarounds to satisfy consumer demand. 

Having effective communication strategies in place can help mitigate the effects of supply chain disruptions. Effective workplace communication ensures that everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same goal. 

For manufacturing companies with a distributed frontline workforce, mobile platforms like Beekeeper allow employees to communicate in real-time across different locations.

Trend #3: Building a Resilient Workforce

Post pandemic, manufacturing companies are looking to:

  • Build resilient operations to survive supply chain disruptions
  • Adjust to the labor shortage
  • Bridge the skills gap

The U.S. is expected to have 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030, according to Deloitte. This worker shortage is partly irresponsible for slowing down the growth and speed of operations.

To help solve these issues, we’re seeing more emphasis on diversifying the workforce. In 2021, Washington passed the Economic Strength Through Manufacturing Act which seeks to double the number of women-owned and minority-owned manufacturing firms.

Diversifying the manufacturing workforce is a global trend. In India, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles launched an initiative to hire more women until they make up 20% of the factory workforce.

Here’s what Beekeeper’s Senior Account Executive RJ Bisaha had to say about what he’s noticed about hiring in manufacturing:

“Many manufacturers are going outside the box to source new talent. Companies are reaching out to and partnering with employment programs designed to help veterans, women, refugees, and other underserved populations.”

In 2022, we’ll be seeing more companies look for ways to diversify their workforce in order to make their operations more resilient.

Trend #4: Automation and Robotics are Redefining Manufacturing Worker Roles 

Beekeeper's guide to automation in manufacturing

Automation in the manufacturing industry isn’t a new phenomenon. But manufacturing companies are investing more money than ever into automated solutions for their operations. This is particularly true for the agricultural and food manufacturing industry. In fact, the global agricultural robotics market will be worth $6.7 billion by 2032.

Following border closures and travel restrictions post-pandemic, labor has been increasingly scarce in agricultural manufacturing. Companies are turning to automation and robotics to tackle tasks like weeding, seeding, and harvesting.

Many robotics agriculture startups have received a boost in funding recently. For instance, Carbon Robotics received $27 million in Series B financing for their autonomous weeding robot. Tortuga, a harvest automation startup, raised $20m.

This focus on automation and robotics is shifting the structure and distribution of labor in manufacturing. Companies have to re-evaluate how to make the best use of their workforce.

Frontline workers in manufacturing will likely take on roles and responsibilities that utilize more of their communication and collaboration skills. Platforms that enable upskilling in manufacturing and employee engagement will become more the norm as we move into 2022.

Trend #5: More Focus on Carbon Neutrality 

Beekeeper's guide to carbon neutrality in manufacturing

Climate change has become an urgent priority for the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing accounts for about one-third of global greenhouse emissions, which is driving companies to rethink their operations model and move towards low-carbon or carbon-neutral manufacturing systems.

Governments are taking big strides towards sustainability, investing trillions of dollars into combating climate change. These policies will require manufacturing to transform end-to-end operations, from designing and delivering products to factory models.

This overhaul of manufacturing operations will also prompt a shift in how companies approach internal communication.

A key component of building a more sustainable manufacturing workplace? Frontline digitalization, or the process of transforming paper and in-person based processes into digital ones. 

Adopting platforms that support frontline digitalization reduces paper and costs, ultimately making it a more sustainable solution.

Trend #6: Increased importance of HR in Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Workers

Beekeeper's guide increased importance of HR in manufacturing

Part of dealing with the labor shortage and skills gap in manufacturing involves attracting and retaining younger workers and those re-entering the workforce post pandemic.

Older workers who have built expertise and hands-on experience are retiring. At the same time, automation and robotics are creating demand for new roles and skills in manufacturing.

Manufacturing companies need to attract new workers and boost employee retention to solve the skills gap and keep up with demand. Moving into 2022, we’ll see HR departments rethink their approach to the employee life cycle.

At Kapco, a metal stamping and fabrication company based in Wisconsin, the HR team created a plan that showed workers how they could develop their skills and increase compensation over time. This ultimately led to increased engagement and reduced turnover

Developing a career roadmap during the interview process is a great way to signal to employees that the company cares about their future.

Trend #7: Employees Participating in Continuous Learning and Improving Skills

Learning and skills development doesn’t stop on the last day of onboarding. Continuous learning is one of the key factors in employee retention, especially for younger workers. 

69% of employees under the age of 25 report staying with their current employer because they are offered training and development opportunities. 

Despite that, there is a gap between how leadership views development and how frontline workers do. In a study by the Manufacturing Institute, more than 9 in 10 leaders were satisfied with training and development while two-thirds of frontline workers weren’t.

One way to make continuous learning sustainable for existing employees is to offer mobile training programs on a platform like Beekeeper. 

With Beekeeper, managers can develop an effective manufacturing training program that employees can complete on their mobile device. Beekeeper’s inline translation tool ensures that every manufacturing worker has equal access to participate:

Here’s a recap of the trends we’ll see in manufacturing:

  • Companies will have to focus on employee retention to keep up with the demand in output despite a declining labor force
  • Supply chain disruptions will require workarounds and effective internal communication
  • Diversifying the workforce will be key to building resiliency
  • Roles will shift as automation and robotics becomes more prominent
  • Companies will make an urgent effort to achieve carbon neutrality
  • HR will have a greater role in attracting and retaining workers
  • Organizations will make more effort to offer continuous learning and development 

At Beekeeper, we’re also dedicated to learning more about the frontline experience. Fill out the form below for the results of our first-ever frontline worker survey.