Skip to main content

What will be the top 3 Manufacturing trends in 2016?

26 January 2016

Last year was a difficult one for the UK manufacturing sector and it looks as though there may be tougher times ahead. Newly released figures show the UK could be heading once again for recession, with the manufacturing sector particularly hard hit, and output levels down by 1.2% in the last quarter of 2015.

With this in mind, it is more vital than ever for manufacturers to look for new ways to utilise available resources and create better, more efficient ways of working as a means to injecting much needed resilience into the sector. If your business has identified the manufacturing sector as one of your key audiences for marketing and PR, then it is vital that you develop relationships with the sector based on understanding their challenges and the struggles of the sector. Here are three key trends that every business targeting manufacturers should be aware of, and incorporating into their communications strategies as 2016 progresses.  

Internet of Things

The ability to monitor manufacturing machines with the use of sensors is not a new process, however the ability for those sensors to communicate with other machines, as a way to collect data which can then be fed to management applications will transform the industry; the IoT is here.

The Internet of Things will be key to driving innovation and growth within the manufacturing sector over the next few years, with new research from Gartner reporting that there will be as many as 26 billion connected devices around the world by 2020.

Although many businesses have already implemented the use of IoT to some degree, many are not yet truly utilising the technology to its full potential. Manufacturers that have fully embraced the IoT are enjoying significant benefits, including improvements in efficiency and productivity, reductions in waste and ultimately, profit increases.

The adoption of IoT will have a significant impact on improving supply chain management, as whole shipments can be traced, down to individual packages through the delivery process, with connected devices having the ability to monitor inventory and maintain stock replenishment, with products ordered automatically. Beyond this, it will expand to include the exact time of delivery, temperature control and quality control information. IoT devices can now also be used to accurately predict when equipment needs servicing and replacing, therefore reducing the risk of unforeseen expensive repairs and replacements. Manufacturers utilising the IoT will be at a significant advantage, cost effectively keeping ahead of the competition and providing a superior customer experience through improved efficiency.

3D printing

The technology behind 3D printing has been around for decades, however it has now reached the stage where it presents new opportunities across a number of sectors, manufacturing being one of the biggest beneficiaries. 3D printing, or addictive manufacturing to give it its proper title, is the process whereby products are created by adding layer upon layer of material, whether that be plastic, metal or concrete.

3D printing will drive innovation across the manufacturing sector, both in small and high end manufacturing. In 2016 manufacturers will increasingly focus on providing customer specific products, with a number of companies offering the ability for customers to upload an image of a chosen design, which will then be printed and shipped.

High end manufacturing is also benefiting from the use of 3D printing, with the aerospace sector utilising the technology. Rolls Royce has recently announced the testing of a Jet engine fitted with a component made from additive manufacturing.

The benefits of 3D means manufacturers can produce complex products quickly with reduced lead times.

 The higher the part complexity, the greater advantage 3D printing has over conventional methods such as subtractive manufacturing. In addition, 3D printing efficiently uses nearly 100% of the raw material, leading to minimal, if not zero waste.

Automation and Robotics

Automation has been widely used across a number of sectors, however more than half of those surveyed for a new report by Cognizant has revealed that manufacturers believe automation will improve processes. The use of automation in car manufacturing has increased rapidly over recent years.

At the heart of future manufacturing will be factories with machines enabled to self-configure and employ artificial intelligence to complete complex manufacturing tasks without the need for human intervention, creating accurate, cost effective processes, providing companies with improved levels of service and quality for customers.

The ability for automation to improve manufacturing processes in terms of expansion is clear but it is also proving to have positive impacts on reducing costs. With the use of automated machines, manufacturers will benefit from improved quality and reliability, with machines enable to perform precise tasks repeatedly, resulting in products being produced within exact specifications every time reducing waste materials and improving costs. Add to this the increase in speed for manufacturing production rates due to the life of robotics machines, and automation offers an attractive option for manufacturers.

Back to Blog Listings