Manufacturing trends 2022
10 February 2022
Chris Stock explores the manufacturing trends we can expect to see in 2022.
2021 saw the economic impact of both Brexit and the global pandemic really take hold across the manufacturing sector.
Add to this the ever-changing supply chain disruption that is rapidly becoming the new normal and you can see why many manufacturers are facing some particularly difficult times.
But, there’s still optimism out there, with recent research showing that 73.1% of UK manufacturing businesses expect conditions for their industry to improve in 2022.
With a view to stealing a march on the competition, more manufacturers are turning to digital transformation initiatives to address the issues they’re facing on a daily basis.
As they formulate their strategy for the years ahead, business leaders are committed to putting the right plans and processes in place to enable their businesses to respond quickly and effectively to whatever lies ahead.
For those manufacturers ready to embrace the challenges of the coming months, what does 2022 have in store for the sector?
What are the trends to be looking out for and how can manufacturers be sure they’re well-placed to seize upon any new opportunities that do arise?
Digital transformation will still be a priority in 2022. The pandemic certainly served to expedite some long-planned for digital initiatives across the manufacturing sector, securing tangible benefits in the process.
Manufacturers will continue to invest in technology to boost their business resilience and agility, prioritising tools that make the best use of the huge amounts of data available.
The bringing together of key business information, using analytics to turn this data into real insight, will become best practice, with enhanced visibility underpinning bolder, better and faster business decisions, responding more effectively to changing demands.
Going digital simply isn’t a choice any more, it’s more a case of when rather than if.
When you consider the fact that 58% of UK manufacturers regard access to labour as the biggest risk to the sector in 2022, it’s easy to see why the industry needs to do what it can to address this problematic staff shortage.
The major challenge is attracting and retaining new talent, making manufacturing an appealing sector to work in, with technology having a key role to play.
Systems need to be intuitive and useful, helping rather than hindering daily tasks.
Digital natives expect the systems they use in their working lives to mirror those they use in their personal lives, a fact that more manufacturers are appreciating as they look to attract a new workforce.
Additionally, increasing automation and streamlining operations, again through the right application of technology, can help to fill the labour shortage, freeing up existing staff to focus on more value-add activities, making better use of the existing employee resource.
2022 will see technology empowering staff rather than threatening their jobs, helping to bridge the staffing gap considerably.
The pandemic saw many industries forced to embrace home-working. While obviously home-working isn’t possible for the majority of manufacturing operations, the benefits of remote working have certainly been pushed to the fore.
We’ll continue to see an uplift in the use of mobile devices on the shopfloor, helping to connect operations and capture real-time data to feed back into the business.
Not only does this streamline operations, but unlocking the potential of this data helps to create a truly connected business, furnishing decision-makers with the accurate, real-time information needed to make faster, better decisions.
Given that the UK Government has committed to cutting manufacturing emissions by about two-thirds from 2018 – 2035, there’s no surprise that boosting sustainability credentials will be high on the agenda for 2022.
We will continue to see more manufacturers pursuing proactive sustainability efforts, pre-empting the inevitable uplift in regulatory requirements and demands.
While also recognising the CSR benefits, not to mention the increasing customer pressure to only deal with ‘sustainable’ partners.
As such, efforts will be focused on reducing waste and optimising efficiency, working smarter and more sustainably, while still staying profitable.
Top of the priority for manufacturing simply has to be maximising business agility.
As we’ve seen too often over the past two years, an inability to act quickly when faced with changing demands can be extremely damaging to a business.
To secure the levels of agility needed to thrive, manufacturers need to make the best use of the data available to them, with accurate, timely business insight informing flexible and responsive operations, able to stand firm in the face of challenges, resilient against even the most disruptive of circumstances.