Nearly a month into 2016, trends have already started to emerge in the manufacturing industry that will likely define the sector over the next year. The field experienced major changes and innovations in 2015, and the coming months are expected to be no different. So what types of progress and development will occur in the manufacturing industry in the near future? Here are four up-and-coming trends to watch out for.
The emergence of robotics
Robots are no longer the things of science fiction novels – they’re real technologies that are becoming integral parts of the manufacturing industry. According to Cerasis, industrial sectors have always been on the forefront of robotics – these machines have been employed in manufacturing practices since the 1950s. The models of 2016 are far different from their ancestors, however. Modern bots have much higher rates of intelligence and autonomy and are able to function more independently than ever before.
This doesn’t mean that artificial intelligence will replace human workers in industrial fields, however. Cerasis explained that 2016 will be a huge year for human-robot collaboration, which means machines will be huge parts of increasing human output and productivity. Robots will also be used for jobs that are too strenuous or dangerous for people, which means that industrial workplaces will be safer than ever.
An increase in chief digital officers
As organizations strive to fully integrate modern technology into their practices, many manufacturing companies will likely start hiring chief digital officers. Professionals in this role will supervise digital progress throughout the entire organization and make sure that manufacturers are keeping up with technological trends. Frost & Sullivan noted that currently, many companies have digital management within individual departments, but this model isn’t sustainable for manufacturers as they move toward increasingly Internet-based operations. Chief digital officers will watch over the digital strategies of the company as a whole and make sure they’re cohesive and effective.
The rise of e-commerce
E-commerce is nothing new, but it’s expected to become a fully integrated facet of manufacturing and industrial distribution in 2016. MarketResearch.com explained that e-commerce lets manufacturers introduce new products without having to worry about large financial risks. Moving purchases online has also allowed manufacturers to earn more in aftermarket parts sales, maximize Internet of Things programs and create custom buying solutions for their clients.
The effects of the presidential election
According to Frost & Sullivan, 2016’s election will likely cause manufacturing issues to be put on the back burner in the political sphere. International relations and major domestic issues will be at the forefront of political platforms and debates, while problems affecting individual industries won’t earn much time in the spotlight. The source noted, however, that the U.S. government will be the partner country at the Hannover Fair this year. The fair, which takes place in Germany, is the largest industrial event in the world, and the country’s participation in it will likely give the manufacturing sector some international attention.