With technological advancements and changing demands, the manufacturing landscape is undergoing more digital transformation than ever.
Technology has aided the manufacturing industry for years now. But during the pandemic, manufacturers realised the importance of technology and innovative software to help the manufacturing process — leading to some exciting trends.
Let’s take a closer look at four of the most interesting and important manufacturing trends of 2022 so far.
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Once the reserve of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are now a reality, and they’re revolutionising the manufacturing industry. (But don’t worry, we’re not talking about evil robots intent on destroying humanity!)
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are some of the biggest manufacturing trends to date. These clever systems help manufacturers analyse data in real-time to optimise processes and make data-backed decisions. With so much data knocking about these days, it can be easy to drown in data you don’t know how to use. That’s where AI and ML come in — to do the job for you.
Many would agree, which is why 60% of manufacturers across the globe are already using artificial intelligence and machine learning across their processes.
The UK is at the forefront of AI development which is good news for British manufacturers. Nandini Chakravorti, associate director at the UK-based Manufacturing Technology Centre said,
‘Digital technologies are rapidly transforming how we make products faster, cheaper and better. With the proper use of artificial intelligence, we can compete globally at pace and on price… There is considerable AI resource in the UK, powered by the country’s top talent, and that presents opportunities to propel that towards manufacturing.’
But just how exactly do artificial intelligence and machine learning help manufacturing? Let’s take a look:
- Improve the manufacturing process – AI helps optimise operations and improve overall productivity.
- Build a ‘smarter’ factory – AI can help you implement autonomous operations and integrate multiple processes to build a ‘smart’ factory with digital software at the core.
- Spot problems before they happen – AI software that collects and analyses real-time data can alert you to potential problems before they arise. And with machine learning, these systems become more capable with each cycle.
- Robotic process automation – Using robots to automate processes removes the potential for human error on assembly lines, and AI can let you know if anything goes wrong.
2. Supply chain restructuring
Supply chains are unpredictable right now. And with tensions currently running high on the geopolitical front, it looks as though things could soon get worse.
Supply chain issues mostly stem from increased consumer demand, rising materials and transportation costs, and slow delivery times. But throw Covid-19 and uncomfortable tensions with countries like China into the mix, and accurately managing supply and demand becomes even harder.
Many manufacturers are now working on improving supply chains and logistics using technology to optimise the supply chain and make more accurate forecasts. This means replacing manual processes with automation, introducing AI and machine learning and collecting and analysing data. This helps supply chain teams spot recurring patterns, identify significant and impending changes, predict purchasing behaviour and manage their inventory better.
The problem is that suddenly integrating new technologies into your processes can be time-consuming, confusing, and expensive.
That’s what we’re working to fix at Workhorse. Our platform makes it easy to keep track of your supply chain so you can better prepare for disruptions — without having to learn a super confusing tech platform on your own. We can walk you through everything, and we’re always an email or phone call away if you need help!
3. Manufacturing-as-a-service platforms (MaaS)
Manufacturing-as-a-service describes a business that offers a complete manufacturing service, and it’s one of the fastest-growing manufacturing trends of 2022.
For many SMBs that have had to reorganise their operations during the pandemic, they’ve had to consider how best to keep creating great products. Sometimes that means partnering with a manufacturing-as-a-service platform so they can focus on running their business while letting experts take over production at scale.
With many MaaS platforms on the market, users can log in and take control of intuitive design tools to create new product ideas for the manufacturers to create. You can also request new inventory and control stock levels. MaaS platforms are especially useful for eCommerce merchants who use white-label and private-label sales strategies to drive revenue.
4. Eco-friendly manufacturing
Manufacturers worldwide are under pressure to deliver products on time despite continuing delays. The push to deliver more goods more quickly puts extra pressure on the planet.
Unfortunately, manufacturers often don’t have the time or resources to think about eco-friendly alternatives. But with current methods relying too heavily on fossil fuels, overusing energy and producing excessive waste, manufacturers need to find new ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Many manufacturers are now adopting sustainable circular economies that optimise efficiency without causing unnecessary environmental damage. The circular economy model prioritises recycling, remanufacturing, and refurbishing to reach sustainability goals. It can also use AI to automate and optimise processes and increase overall efficiency while providing real-time data on sustainability metrics.
By becoming an eco-friendly manufacturer with measurable sustainability goals, you’re doing your bit to help the planet while showing customers you go the extra mile.
To learn more about sustainability in manufacturing, read our posts about green supply chain management and what it means to be a B corp.
Stay updated on the latest trends on the Workhorse blog
If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that things can change — fast. That’s why it’s important for SMBs to keep track of changes and trends. Looking for a one-stop shop for the latest updates? Keep an eye on the Workhorse blog — we’ll keep covering what you need to know!
If you’re looking for ways to modernise your order and inventory management, get in touch with our team for a demo. Workhorse is a configurable order and inventory management platform that puts you in control.