From pandemic to inflation. From supply chain disruption to labor market shortages. The past two or so years have proved challenging for businesses. And yet the manufacturing sector has proved resilient.
With no sign of these challenges easing, the sector will remain tested as it continues to navigate an uncertain future.
The disruptions of the recent past – and more to come – have highlighted for manufacturers the need to streamline processes. Here are three technology trends I believe will help manufacturers to grow and overcome industry challenges:
The power of the cloud
The adoption of cloud technology by manufacturers is accelerating. The ERP market grew to 49.3 billion USD in 2022, with an expected rate of cloud adoption of 71% in 2023. Epicor’s most recent Industry Insights Report (which surveyed 1,350 technology decision-makers at US, UK or Australian enterprise businesses with over £200 million in revenue to gain insight into their views on ERP solutions) revealed 90% of manufacturers plan on moving to the cloud. Despite this, there are manufacturers still reliant on outdated and unstable technology, restricting growth, innovation, and competitiveness.
Cloud solutions enable companies to integrate every aspect of their process seamlessly. Having data available in a unified platform provides visibility over the whole production journey. This integration and ability to monitor processes in real-time not only enhances operations, but provides insights to streamline production, cut costs, and enable data-driven decisions.
Migrating to the cloud is already reaping rewards for manufacturers who have made the change. However, as our turbulent economy continues to create uncertainty, laggard businesses must consider investing in the right cloud solutions to help them consolidate and connect – otherwise, they risk being left behind.
The true value of data
Data is core to manufacturing and has become central to digitalization strategies and can be used to identify changes in customer behavior, supply chain issues, and production or labor trends. However, a recent survey by the World Economic Forum revealed insufficient skills are the biggest challenge to capturing value from manufacturing data. With this in mind, we expect an increase in hiring and valuing digital natives who understand analytics and can adopt a data-driven approach.
The rise of automation and intelligent integrations
We also expect an increase in reliance on digital work instructions and intelligent integrations. For example, Epicor Connected Process Control, formerly known as eFlex Systems, a provider of cloud-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES) technologies recently acquired by Epicor, helps manufacturers to increase productivity by modernizing their production environments through digital work instructions, advanced process control, and real-time visibility.
Although the global economic outlook remains uncertain, the manufacturing industry recognizes digital innovation is key to becoming more competitive, increasing growth, and improving profitability. We believe those who prioritize these technology trends will increase their chances of success for the remainder of 2023 and beyond.
Ed. Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash. Data graph provided by Epicor.