5 Must-Know Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2021

Last Updated On Manufacturing Trends PDF

2020 was a whirlwind. But with all its twists and turns came valuable lessons that manufacturers and food processors will use to make 2021 a success.

In the new year, these two industries are on the rebound from the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the digital transformation and enablement of frontline workforces will be more important than ever.

Manufacturing industry trends like employee health and safety, smarter manufacturing technology, and digital connectivity will dominate 2021. 

Download our white paper to learn more about these and other trends in the manufacturing industry for 2021.

Want a peek inside the report? Here are a few of the latest trends in the manufacturing industry that will reshape the next year.

1. Employee Health and Safety Remains Imperative

improving employee health and safety with Beekeeper

From the factory floor to the board room, employee health and safety became the center of every conversation in 2020. And that trend is not expected to change in 2021.

In fact, it will continue to accelerate as global regulations continue to evolve, and manufacturers work to build safer environments for all employees.

Similar to previous years, the manufacturing industry ranks third for on-the-job incidents, with an average of 400,000 non-fatal injuries a year. And food processing has an even higher total recordable injury rate.

Businesses will lean on smart equipment and real-time communication technology to ensure employees are as safe as possible.

2. Manufacturing Technology Gets Smarter

Beekeeper's guide to manufacturing technology trends

AI, robots, 3D printing, and the like are all the latest trends in manufacturing technology – and have been for some time.

2021 is the year manufacturing technology gets even smarter.

Robots on the factory floor are growing at warp speed thanks to their declining cost and increasing capabilities. According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are a record 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories worldwide.

Also, spending on digital twin technology is expected to grow by 17% in 2021. With digital twins, manufacturers can digitally replicate new products before the production process begins – which ultimately decreases costs, waste, and quality issues.

2021 will also be the year that 5G technology will finally take off. It’s estimated that 25% of the global population will have 5G coverage by 2030. And manufacturers could generate from $400 billion to $650 billion of GDP impact by the end of the decade – all from 5G.

3. Digital Connectivity To All The Things

In 2020, the manufacturing and food processing industries were severely impacted by the global pandemic. From closed facilities to rigid communication channels, it was difficult for some to remain flexible. As a result, 94% of Fortune 1000 companies experienced disruptions in their supply chain.

In 2021, digital connectivity will be one of the dominating trends in manufacturing and food processing. Businesses will be looking to digitally connect as many aspects of the production process as possible to stay ahead of further disruptions. 

They’ll do so by adopting tools that connect:

  • Operations
  • Inventory
  • Employees
  • Equipment
  • Customers

It’s estimated that by 2025, over 75 billion manufacturing devices will be connected and communicating with each other.

4. Going Green in Manufacturing

Today, the manufacturing industry represents 54% of the world’s energy consumption and 20% of global emissions. So, it’s no surprise that there is a growing need for manufacturing and food processing companies to go green.

As a result, circular manufacturing is catching on quick given its benefits, such as:

  • Recovering and repurposing materials and resources
  • Switching to renewable energy to power factories
  • Tracking every step in the manufacturing process to lessen waste

And, sub-sectors, like building materials manufacturers, are seeing a more significant push towards sustainability.

In a recent US Green Building Council survey, half of the respondents believed more than 60% of the construction projects would be green by 2021. Given the rapidly growing demand, the global green building materials market will continue to expand in 2021 and is expected to reach $425 billion by 2027.

5. Frontline Employee Tech Remains A Must-Have

Beekeeper's guide to frontline technology

In 2021, manufacturing and food processing companies will digitally enable frontline employees for two reasons.

First, manufacturers need to establish a digitally connected network between employees and Industry 4.0 technologies. In factories of the future, employees will need to communicate digitally with one another and the machines they’re managing.

Also, employee technology is a critical tool in the digital transformation process.

90% of manufacturing executives recognize the importance of employee tech, but only 36% believe they’re meeting these obligations.

The digital transformation is not slowing down. It will only accelerate.

So, now is the time for manufacturing and food processing companies to shift away from traditional communication methods and enable their staff with mobile-friendly tools.

Mobile employee technology, like Beekeeper, supports the manufacturing and food processing industries through this process of digital transformation:

  • Reach and Connect: Providing better communication to improve operations and maintain employee health and safety. When workers can effectively communicate information in real-time to keep pace with the new speed of manufacturing, it saves time and money.
  • Digitize: Creating digital versions of essential materials that are easily accessible no matter where you are is good business. Digitizing SOPs, shift schedules, and training documents will keep employees safe, informed, and engaged.
  • Automate: Streamlining redundant processes nets productivity wins. For example, if your HR team is getting repetitive questions, using chatbots will help them get time back in their day and get information to employees faster.
  • Optimize: Using integrated workflows increases efficiency. Data silos are broken down, and there is a unified flow of information between systems, machines, and humans.

The next wave of the digital transformation is here. Now’s the time to capitalize on these industry trends and adopt tools that support frontline employees through this next technological evolution.  

Download the white paper to read the full report on manufacturing and food processing industry trends for 2021.

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