The biggest surprise of 2022 has been the large-scale adoption of digital technologies by manufacturers, many of whom had previously been reluctant to change their traditional, long-established production methods.
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Today, the once rare opportunity to use machine learning for factory optimization is becoming mainstream as early adopters continue to realize phenomenal productivity gains.
As 2030 approaches, industrial companies are undergoing a similar sustainability realization, realizing that they must finally start making strides toward the decarbonization goals they set a few years ago. 2023 will be a year in which many industrial companies will take a close look at their emissions and take concrete steps to reduce them.
Digital solutions that help teams monitor carbon emissions, as well as solutions that help factories minimize resource consumption and achieve more performance with the same amount of energy, will be given high priority in this new environment. As sustainability moves to the forefront of the conversation, companies that lag behind in their environmental performance will increasingly see negative consequences.
Other developments outside of the manufacturing world will also impact the adoption of digital technologies. In the US, we expect more activity in infrastructure sectors such as steel and cement as last year’s infrastructure bill comes into effect. Within these sectors, there will also be increasing interest in technology-driven decarbonization solutions such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Additionally, we expect the inflationary environment to continue into 2023 and possibly into early 2024, meaning cost cutting will become extremely important. Businesses will look for new ways to improve efficiency in order to maintain profitability.
In addition, the labor shortage will continue. In fact, we see two trends combining into a perfect storm. First, unemployment rates are very low and there are more job vacancies than ever before (in most sectors). The Fed is trying to counteract this by raising interest rates. Second, the industrial sector is threatened by labor shortages, both due to the aging workforce and the fact that there are few entrants into the industrial labor market.
The combination of these two is putting a significant strain on the industrial sector’s staffing levels at a time when there is more talk of shifting production back to the US — both in the semiconductor industry and in other sectors.
The challenge of labor shortages means manufacturers will be looking for creative ways to boost productivity and upskill their existing workforce. Technologies that enable rapid learning and minimize on-the-job training, such as B. Software with the ability to create digital twins will be an increasingly popular solution as companies try to make the most of the less-than-ideal hiring situation.
Automation is also seen by many as a tempting option to fill in the gaps left by a lack of factory workers. However, we will also see the growth of digital solutions that, rather than eliminating human team members, aim to make their jobs easier through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning that can derive insights from data that is too complex to understand to be perceived human eye.
2023 is unlikely to be a year free of challenges for the manufacturing industry. However, it will also be a year when companies reap the rewards of past investments. Many companies have invested in expanding their data storage and sensor capacities in recent years with the aim of making their production facilities more networked and “smarter”.
In the coming year, they will invest more in technology that will enable them to generate ROI from these data harmonization efforts. We can look forward to more innovations being embraced as the manufacturing industry continues its journey to adapt to digital technology and Industry 4.0.