Outlook: Manufacturing

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There is no doubt that the pandemic has put a damper on all industries, but because the manufacturing industry is so dependent on physical labor and processes, these companies have especially suffered over the past year. In fact, 24% of manufacturers report that their biggest challenge is coping with new demands due to the pandemic. Because of this, manufacturing leaders have had to think outside of the box and shift their mindset to embrace a new, digital, paradigm.

Key Trends


Through a focus on supply chain resilience, the increased use of predictive maintenance, and the introduction of the digital workplace, most manufacturing companies have actually seen modest, or even significant, growth despite the pandemic. This is no accident; according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), digital infrastructure investments reached $1.3 trillion by the end of 2020, and continue to climb.


The Digital Workplace

As we move further into 2021 and begin to see early signs of recovery from Covid-19, leading manufacturing companies are poised to utilize the digital world to their advantage. As more workers are able to congregate in facilities, the trends adopted during the past year will continue to foster heightened decision making and interconnectivity, fueling positive growth.


Supply Chain Resilience


Only 21% of participants in our recent study expressed confidence in their supply network flexibility, illuminating the critical nature of supply chain resilience within the manufacturing space. The global pandemic forced these companies to be nimble, required them to reevaluate their supply constraints and utilize new technologies to promote interconnectivity within their organizations. For example, by offering remote work options to employees whenever possible, companies are able to create a system that fosters both safety and success, enabled by the adoption of cloud-based data technologies.


Predictive Maintenance

Due to the stark impracticality of service technicians arriving at a moment’s notice, the early days of the pandemic bore witness to manufacturing equipment going down for extended periods of time. This trend is detrimental for obvious reasons: 98% of growing organizations report that a single hour of downtime costs them over $100,000. However, utilizing predictive maintenance methodologies allows manufacturers to save valuable time and money by intelligently anticipating labor requirements.


Through a focus on supply chain resilience, predictive maintenance, and rapid adaptation to a digital workplace, manufacturing companies are able to foster interconnectivity, save valuable time, and ultimately make more effective decisions at the executive level. These recent trends, enhanced due to Covid-19, have enabled this once-archaic industry to meet the cutting edge and thrive.

Looking Forwards

The pandemic reminded the broader industry how much they depend on physical operations and workforces. Through the cutting-edge software tools now available to manufacturers of all sizes, centralized digital hubs are being created to provide leaders strategic and operational insights in real time. Even as the effects of the pandemic die down, 76% of manufacturing executives agree that they plan to increase their investments in digital initiatives and implement more Industry 4.0 technologies. Chief among these are cloud infrastructure, advanced analytics/machine learning, and real-time data visualization tools.


The introduction of the digital workplace means leveraging advanced analytics, cloud computing, and business intelligence tools to drive intelligent decision making and efficient operations. The combined effect of this warm embrace of digital transformation is a vast leap in competitive advantage in the marketplace. Additionally, the demand for e-commerce products among American consumers has increased by 18%, to $710 billion, in the past year, boosting the demand for domestic manufacturing. These trends dovetail to spell a bright future for domestic manufacturers as they vigorously reclaim ground lost to foreign competition over the past decade.

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