Classic ‘80s sci-fi movies like, Blade Runner and Back to the Future II predicted what the world would be like in the early 21st century, replete with flying cars and sentient androids. But even though these things are still not a reality, there are many other technological breakthroughs making a big impact on the manufacturing industry. It is also clear that the ripple effect of the COVID pandemic will continue on well into the new year. With these things in mind, let’s look at five emerging trends in the manufacturing sector for 2021.
- The next Industrial Revolution
One of the manufacturing trends to plan for next year is the next Industrial Revolution. It’s being ushered in through the combined effects of cutting-edge technologies like smart devices, 3D printing, robotics, AI and 5G.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the growing network of smart devices being utilized in factories to help monitor quality control, supplies, power consumption and worker productivity among others.
3D printing technology is advancing the production of new design prototypes, making the process faster and cheaper, and shortening the time-to-market for new products.
More and more fabrication and assembly processes are being automated as the robotics industry continues to expand. The exponential growth of quantum computing and artificial intelligence will also bring numerous operational efficiencies and data insights—not just to the factory floor but to supply chain and engineering as well.
And the new and faster 5G networks will be connecting, enabling and supporting all of the latest manufacturing technology.
This year’s COVID pandemic has heightened the need to embrace this technological revolution in order to predict and meet the challenges of the future trends in manufacturing.
- Recruiting focus on STEM Skills
As emerging technology makes old tasks and jobs obsolete, the new ones will require a whole new set of technical skills. That means the future of the manufacturing industry and the success of your business will depend on recruiting the next generation of engineers and technology specialists. This year, it’s imperative to develop and optimize your recruitment strategy within the STEM fields.
As the COVID pandemic has forced most schools to move to online classes, you will need to connect with students virtually. It is important to start developing your company’s online presence through your website and social media accounts.
You may also need to find new ways to attract talent through investing in enhanced benefits packages and tuition reimbursement programs. These investments can go a long way to recruit and retaining top talent. To assist with this, Paycor’s applicant tracking tools can help develop a pipeline of skilled technical workers to fill critical roles.
- Workforce Development and Up-Skilling
In addition to recruiting, another manufacturing trend in the coming year is the need for specialized onsite training programs for your employees.
According to a Gartner report, only 16 percent of new hires possess the necessary skills for their current jobs. And 53 percent of business leaders in a Deloitte survey said that “between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years.”
As older workers begin retiring, the more traditional, apprenticeship training model may not be up to task to facilitate the kind of changes needed. Manufacturers will have to employ more efficient methods such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to drive results. One aerospace manufacturer created an AR guided training module at a tenth of the cost, trained new workers 30 to 40 percent more efficiently, and reduced assembly time by half.
It’s crucial to develop a business culture that encourages employees to develop a wide range of critical skills that will benefit both their own careers and the business for the long term.
This amount of training can be a daunting task. Paycor’s Learning Management tool can be an invaluable asset to help you develop, manage and track the progress of your training programs.
- Growth of Offsite Employees
One future manufacturing trend caused by the COVID pandemic is the transition of many office employees to work from their homes. The technology has been in place to accommodate this and employers are discovering they can still meet business goals and deadlines with a significant number of their employees working offsite. In fact, many businesses are realizing a cost savings in heating and electricity. Employees have also been able to save money on gas and automobile expenses when they are no longer making their daily commute.
Manufacturers would do well to begin planning to make some of these changes permanent even after the pandemic is over. The value of offsite and virtual offices could benefit businesses in ways they don’t even know yet.
And to accommodate this new trend, Paycor’s Analytics tool can help you manage schedules and track job performance across various outside locations.
- Focus on Employee Health and Safety
Another effect the COVID pandemic has had on the manufacturing sector, is a heightened awareness of the need to ensure employee health and safety on the job.
When any employee misses work due to illness, it has a negative impact on productivity. But multiple employees missing work simultaneously due to COVID could be devastating to a manufacturer. Even after the COVID-19 virus is eventually brought under control, businesses have realized the need to establish hygienic, safety and health protocols to guard against future pandemics.
Some ways to help improve employee health and safety is to re-design break rooms and common areas to allow for greater social distancing. Many employers are adding more hand sanitizer stations and re-structuring facility maintenance and cleaning activities. Others are also adding more sick leave time and health monitoring benefits to help avoid future health problems.
Manufacturers have learned a lot through the events of the past year. Through a combination of emerging technology and human intuition, it is vital to build nimble, responsive businesses that can better anticipate and prepare for the future.