6 Key manufacturing trends for 2022
The new year brings a fresh opportunity to reflect upon what factors influenced the current environment and consider the forces that are shaping the manufacturing industry. Supply chain was once a topic for industry insiders and experts. However, nearly two years into a pandemic, supply chain challenges and solutions are now front-page news on a near daily basis. Yet the manufacturing industry has grown and changed to adapt — not only to confront supply chain problems but to adapt to shifting consumer demands, as well as embrace new tools and technologies.
With those factors in mind, our industry experts have compiled six key manufacturing industry trends for 2022:
1. Shorter, simpler supply chains
Following massive supply chain disruptions in 2020 and 2021, organizations will bring manufacturing closer to home to ensure reliable supply for critical parts and products. As many supply chains — like automobile semiconductor chips — continue to struggle with the backlogs of the past year, businesses will choose to shorten their supply chains in order to reduce shipping costs and protect themselves against future disruptions.
2. Shrinking new product development cycles
Companies will continue to seek ways to shorten product development cycles in order to grow their business and beat their competition. Businesses focused on top-line revenue growth will achieve their goals by launching new products, and fast product development cycles lead to larger growth and greater market share. We will see designers and engineers looking to adopt new technologies, tools, and processes to keep up with accelerated product launches.
3. Sustainable solutions continue to grow
With an increasing appetite for sustainably produced products, companies will seek to measure and reduce the carbon emissions created by their manufacturing processes and supply chains. Consumer demand, corporate responsibility, and government regulations all contribute to businesses’ new or renewed efforts to reduce carbon emissions. In 2022, companies will use increasingly accessible manufacturing and supply chain data to better evaluate their products’ carbon footprints and assess opportunities to manufacture and transport goods more sustainably.
4. Expanding applications for additive manufacturing
While many companies turned to 3D printing as a supply chain solution during the pandemic, additive manufacturing has proven its value for producing industrial-grade, end-use parts. Increased awareness and understanding of how to leverage additive manufacturing for production applications, along with an ever-growing base of additive manufacturing suppliers, will continue to drive additional adoption of additive manufacturing at scale.
5. Niche products continue to proliferate
New production technologies that make low-volume manufacturing economically feasible — including additive manufacturing — will compel businesses to cater to consumer needs for specialty products. This movement towards the introduction of products to serve smaller customer segments will become increasingly popular as a way to better meet customer needs and boost revenue. As the costs of manufacturing on-demand, in low volumes, or truly custom products have decreased, the opportunities to fulfill niche consumer needs will rise.
6. The talent shortage will continue
Hiring challenges have impacted nearly every industry in the past year, and manufacturers will continue to struggle to recruit and retain engineers, designers, technicians, and more. As the talent shortage continues, businesses will need to develop new capabilities and invest in human capital. These businesses will also look for ways to embrace new technologies that improve productivity and automate their processes. Many organizations will seek out partnerships to help them meet the challenges that lie ahead.