As 2018 kicks off in the manufacturing world, companies begin to wonder what’s ahead regarding automation trends and workforce expectations. Luckily, key industry stakeholders have weighed in, providing relevant insight on both topics with manufacturing predictions for 2018 and more.
Industry experts at IDC (International Data Corporation) have compiled a list of manufacturing technology predictions that will impact how we do business in the next three to five years.
Digitization transformation (DX) is on the upswing.
Cloud, mobile, big data & analytics, and the internet of things (IoT) are just a few technologies that will make waves this year and in the foreseeable future.
Manufacturers are also closely monitoring the advancement of more fledgling technologies such as robotics, cognitive computing/artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), and blockchain related to their potential impact in business improvement and evolution.
Of the 10 key predictions outlined by the IDC, two caught our attention:
By 2020, 60% of the top manufacturers will rely on digital platforms that enhance their investments in ecosystems and experiences and support as much as 30% of their overall revenue.
By 2020, 80% of supply chain interactions will happen across cloud-based commerce networks, dramatically improving participants’ resiliency and reducing the impact of supply disruptions by up to one-third.
Kimberly Knickle, Research Vice President, IT Priorities and Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights summarizes it best.
“Manufacturers of every size and shape are changing rapidly because of new digital technologies, new competitors, new ecosystems, and new ways of doing business. Manufacturers that can speed their adoption of digital capabilities in order to create business value will be the leaders of their industry.”
Manufacturing Workforce Predictions
Lack of New Employees’ Basic Skill Set
More often than not, new employees that begin manufacturing jobs are lacking basic mechanical skills. Anything from common tool use to measuring devices – but to their defense, these skills were much more commonplace in the past. Developing these skills by tinkering with an old car or taking apart a household machine isn’t part of everyday life anymore.
As such, manufacturing companies need to increase collaboration with educational institutions to instill basic techniques and know-how early on. The companies themselves also need to implement comprehensive training programs and be prepared to teach these skills to workers after they are on the payroll.
Work-Life Balance – Flexible Work Environments
Manufacturing companies have historically maintained a strict work schedule with consistent time expectations and structured workdays. Potential employees who are new to the workforce seek a more balanced and flexible work-home balance than many did in the past. This is going to require manufacturers to think outside the box and move beyond the normal workday, providing incoming employees with options and atypical schedules.
Harrington concludes by suggesting companies focus on automating redundant and sometimes tremendously demanding tasks, allowing employees to focus their time and skill sets on value-added positions instead. New employees are interested in roles that add value and give them an opportunity to be challenged and grow, instead of being tasked with redundant movements that flat-line throughout their career.