Manufacturing has been a driving economic force since the industrial revolution. That’s not changing anytime soon.

However, in a recent poll asking Americans what they think about manufacturing, some new trends emerged.

Tony Uphoff, president and CEO of Thomas, said, “It was surprising to see that half of the respondents feel that the current state of the manufacturing industry is ‘stable but weak or in decline.’ In fact, the opposite holds true: the state of manufacturing is greater than ever.”

The survey also showed that 61% of Americans prefer American-made products. Further, 67% of Americans would encourage someone to join the manufacturing industry workforce. Both positive indicators for the industry.

How do we get these numbers to continue, or improve further? By growing our businesses, staying ahead of the latest manufacturing trends, keeping up with technological advances, and evolving over time.

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How is the manufacturing industry changing?

In 2018, manufacturers saw three major trends:

  1. Shifting focus from B2B to B2B2C
  2. Advanced technology with Big Data and Industry 4.0
  3. AR/VR collaboration

The first trend requires a change in mindset. According to Hitachi Solutions, shifting from a B2B to a B2B2C business model increases company profits, creates better brand control, shortens the length of a production and sales cycle and most importantly better customer data collection.

All great outcomes if you can start thinking more about your customers’ customer.

Embrace Big Data

Hitachi also goes on to explain how Big Data is helping business with security, real-time insights, sales optimization and improved production schedules. Companies have bet heavily on Big Data and it has paid off for them this year.

Big Data is a game changer in regards to operational efficiency.

Dr. Malcolm Thompson, executive director of NextFlex, explained, “The key drivers for U.S. advanced manufacturers in 2019 will be the ability to transition from prototyping to real, high-volume manufacturing. That will be enabled with close geographic relationships between manufacturers and their customers.”

This can speed up time to market, which will kick up your manufacturing output at an exponential rate.

“We’re talking in terms of billions and billions of dollars,” Dr. Thompson continued.

Advanced technology at every phase

Industry 4.0 as some call it, or the fourth industrial revolution, arms manufacturers with advanced and automated technology and information technology throughout the lifecycle of a product. This emerging era is shaping up to bring some changes and advancements to the manufacturing world.

“Manufacturers laid the groundwork for Industry 4.0 in 2018,” David Hunter, CEO of Star Rapid, explained. “In 2019, they can reap the benefits of lean manufacturing and automation by doing more with less to reduce inefficiencies on the shop floor.”

AR and VR for safety and training

Finally, the use of augmented and virtual reality in manufacturing was a big trend this year. The collaboration between machine and human has made production times faster, workplaces safer and increased insight into potential errors and risks, which can be eliminated.

Machine-learning platforms were able to reduce manufacturing times and eliminate potential security and safety risks. 2018 saw an influx of AR/VR machines being installed and invested in; a sign that you can expect to hear more about it in 2019.

manufacturing plant person welding

Future trends in manufacturing: What’s next in 2019?

Experts believe that 2019 will pave the way for more cloud-based apps, IoT expansion, and greater security. Let’s take a look at each one.

Cloud-based apps and IoT

Sarah McMillian of Temboo believes manufacturing software is going to take the industry to new heights.

“Manufacturing apps that are designed for your unique processes and are installed on your workstations help train new employees faster, and guide experienced employees to work more efficiently,” Sarah said. “This helps mitigate the risks of turnover, and makes the prospect of having to upskill a lesser trained workforce more feasible.”

This is crucial at a time when manufacturers are facing unpredictable material costs. Right now (and really, ever), waste is not an option. Implementing IoT systems for condition monitoring reduces the risk that equipment failure will cause downtime or quality issues.

Testing for success

Sastry Malladi, Chief Technology Officer of Foghorn, stated that 2019 will be the year of testing, testing, and more testing.

New technology will “increase the likelihood of detecting anomalies, enabling immediate reaction.” Sastry said. “In 2019, organizations will start to understand the productive and cost-saving benefits of edge computing projects as they go from pilot to production.”

Speed and security

Blockchain is another trend that may grow in 2019. According to Manufacturing Global, blockchain has the potential to boost the speed of manufacturing and security. Blockchain will provide cost-effective solutions for business operations and development.

“The incorporation of blockchain will ensure a high level of transparency to customers on the full product life cycle from material integrity to final product,” Hunter explained.

machinery in use on a manufacturing floor

Solutions for the most common manufacturing challenges

Material and labor costs as well as security concerns are challenges that the manufacturing industry faces today, and will continue to face in 2019.

To start your year in the right direction, we’ve found 4 tools that can help alleviate some of the concerns and overcome the challenges that we’ve discussed.

Poka
Communication and training platform specifically designed for the manufacturing industry. Companies can use Poka to train employees, effectively communicate and manage projects. All with the goal of standardized business operations.

Honeywell
Productivity and workflow solutions for the manufacturing industry that help reduce errors and improve efficiency. Honeywell simplifies processes and labor, allowing for more time to focus on completing production and projects.

Rockwell Automation
Rockwell is for global businesses that want to automate manufacturing with the help of data. The platform optimizes production and improves business operations through its world-wide and renowned technology.

Infosys
Manufacturing solution that transforms plants and factories with technology advancements for smarter, better and faster work. Implementing digital technology helps with reducing costs and speeding up production schedules.

Bring it all together with streamlined time tracking

According to IQMS, 81% of manufacturers say monitoring is improving and having a positive impact on their business. Scheduling, inventory control, and production timelines have all improved with the help of real-time monitoring tools.

real time manufacturing monitoring

That’s where Hubstaff comes in. Hubstaff is an all-in-one time tracking and productivity platform that can help manufacturers save time and money. Gain greater team efficiency, work smarter, and capture accurate timesheets.

With Hubstaff, companies can rest easy knowing that scheduling, time tracking, attendance, and payroll, can all be done in one simple platform.

Streamlined mobile apps make it easy for your team to easily clock in and out from their device.

Floor managers and employers can see exactly who is scheduled to work and what they are working on at any time. You’ll even get notifications for missed, late, or abandoned shifts.

Manage internal and external payroll with Hubstaff and its 30+ payment integration partners. Hubstaff helps simplify the production process and reduce costs.

You can try all of Hubstaff’s time-saving features free for 14 days.

Preparing for the future

The manufacturing trends and challenges of 2018 will carry over to 2019, but we will see a shift to digital advancement and technology. These tools can help combat the challenges that may arise and help reduce wasted time and money.