5 top manufacturing industry trends & the skills most in-demand by employers

5 top manufacturing industry trends & the skills most in-demand by employers
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 29 November, 2021

Industry 4.0 —a term coined by the German government in 2013—refers to the current industrial revolution we’re experiencing. Providing the framework for a“smart factory” powered by advancements such as smart manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 promises to redefine the whole premise of manufacturing.

Industry 4.0

Industrial revolutions and future view.

Photo credit: Christoph Roser at http://www.allaboutlean.com AllAboutLean.com

But what exactly does it do? Simply put, Industry 4.0 is paving the way for smart factories with machines that are able to communicate with each other, are self-optimised, self-configured, and even running on artificial intelligence to complete complex tasks and deliver, drastically improved cost efficiencies and superior quality goods and services.

We are already starting to see self-driving vehicles on the roads and delivery drones taking to the skies. A whole new world is unfolding right in front of our eyes. This means more specialised skillsets and talents are being sought after by manufacturers as they embrace these new technologies and autonomous concepts. If you work in the manufacturing industry, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the following trends:

1. Smart manufacturing

Smart manufacturing are systems that are fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time

According to a recent study by the BCC Research, theglobal smart manufacturing market is projected to reach $392 billion by 2020, with a compound growth rate of 19.8 percent from 2015 to 2020.We are on the cusp of a major revolution that will completely transform the manufacturing industry, and in turn, our quality of life.

The ability to store and easily retrieve data from the cloud with smart devices for example, translates to vastly improved efficiencies in purchasing, shipping, and quality control. This in turn caters for leaner, cheaper and much more effective business processes, benefitting business owners, employees and consumers alike.

2. Cleaner and greener

Companies started to incorporate ‘greening’ in the business practice.

With the world’s largest consumer product manufacturer, Procter & Gamble (P&G), announcing plans to eliminate 100% of their manufacturing waste from all 100 production sites worldwide by 2020, we are seeing a definite move towards cleaner and greener manufacturing standards for the foreseeable future.

The global brand has pledged to achieve the zero-waste goal by ensuring that all incoming materials are converted into finished products, recycled or reused in other ways.

Sustainable production, waste utilisation and disposal processes will need constant review and refinement to ensure progressively cleaner and greener manufacturing standards.

3. Automation

Robots are rapidly transforming the way we live and work, and will have even more revolutionary impact in the years ahead.

As robotics technology continues to evolve, we’re seeing game-changing advancements such as voice and image recognition capabilities which allow robots to carry out complex human tasks even in hazardous environments.

While robots are undoubtedly far more efficient as they do precisely what they’re programmed to do—no more, no less—these machines still currently lack the ability to understand subtle human communications such as eye contact, facial expressions and other uniquely human behaviours.

As such, while automation is successfully eliminating tedious administrative tasks, it is also creating new jobs for a re-trained workforce. These robots will need to be managed, programmed and maintained, for starters. Global spending on robotics is predicted to reach $87 billion by 2025, with close to 15 million new jobs expected to be created in the US over the next decade due to automation and artificial intelligence.

4. 3D printing

Printing has become a popular way of producing one-off prototypes

Global spending on 3D printers is forecast to grow from $13.2 billion in 2016 to over $28 billion in 2020, according to IDC. Research shows that 52 percent of manufacturers expect the technology to be integrated into high-volume production within the next three to five years.

If that’s not compelling enough, Ray Kurzweil, futurist and computer scientist, expects the technology to “continue advancing within manufacturing businesses as it moves into open-source design and production environments”. Kurzweil anticipates that the technology will continue to produce amazing revolutions in healthcare and biotechnology.

5. AI

Companies apply artificial intelligence across global supply chain management to improve efficiency, speed and decision-making

Artificial intelligence —machine intelligence (in simple terms)—is revolutionizing manufacturing in countless ways. Using machine learning algorithms designed to be iterative for continuous learning, these algorithms enable manufacturers to achieve optimized outcomes in minutes rather than months.

AI’s contributions to manufacturing include keeping supply chains operating efficiently, producing customised and built-to-order products on time, increasing production capacity while lowering material consumption, and more. The bottom line is, AI continually provides greater predictive accuracy to each production phase, allowing manufacturing businesses to perform better and achieve more with less.

The current shift to smart manufacturing will inevitably translate into higher efficiencies and healthier profits, more jobs and a stronger global economy. This latest evolution of the manufacturing landscape is expected to bring about an even more sophisticated industry where highly skilled engineers are sought after to realise the industrial Internet of Things.

Are you ready to play a part in this new era of manufacturing? To get a headstart, explore hundreds of manufacturing jobs here.

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