3 New Manufacturing Technology Trends 2022

by | Jan 19, 2022 | Business, Strategy

Trend line illustrating manufacturing technology trends 2022.

3 New Manufacturing Technology Trends 2022

The last couple of years have been…interesting for everybody. It sounds like a broken record at this point, but everything is much, much different. Covid-19 took over the way we work, interact, and go about our daily lives. On top of that, it keeps almost going away, we almost get back to normal, and then it’s back.

Now, I know that nobody is thankful for this virus, but we have learned a lot as a result of it. We learned that we can do many things remotely- most companies can still function effectively as fully remote companies. Some of them actually thrive in this environment and have decided that they have no plans to bring anyone back to the office. My point is – many companies have undergone somewhat of a digital transformation in one way or another because of this pandemic.

Companies learned how to leverage technology to keep up with the times. In this case, it was do or die. Go remote, or stop generating any revenue. But the truth is – companies should have been leveraging technology to improve the way they work, operate, and communicate much sooner. Not every industry is the same, and not every company is the same, but today we’re talking about the manufacturing industry- and there is so much room for improvement within manufacturing companies if you put in the effort and learn how to (properly) leverage technology.

With that being said, let’s get into it. Manufacturing technology trends in 2022. This won’t be your typical list, this list is carefully crafted based on what we have seen ourselves as an industrial intelligence solutions company that works with numerous manufacturing companies and sees the inter-workings and business processes of these companies day in and day out.

So, no – we didn’t make this article to tell you that there is a work shortage in the manufacturing industry for the 100th time, or that Machine Learning and AI are the future.

(But we might help you learn how to overcome and take advantage of these things 😄)

Manufacturing Technology Trends 2022

As I just mentioned, this list will be different. Full of trends AND themes that we have picked up on ourselves, and we are 100% confident that these will be growing in popularity throughout 2022 and beyond.

1. A Focus on the Business Challenge First, Technology Challenge Second

So I just spent the first portion of this article telling you why advancing technologically was so crucial to the business of the future, but now I’m saying that it comes second.

Again, this year has undoubtedly accelerated technological advancement within businesses. However, the goal is not to see how much new technology you can acquire, to have the latest and greatest, or to make technology your primary focus. The primary focus should always be the business challenges first.

Use technology to solve your business challenge, don’t start with the technology and then ask yourself “how could we use this to improve x?” No- Start with x, and then determine what technology you need to solve your specific business challenge.

We have seen too many companies try to get data from machines for the sake of getting data, and then they get themselves wrapped around the axel. Start at the top, then work your way down to the data and tech. 

Now, is this a known, popular trend within the manufacturing industry? Probably not, but it absolutely needs to be. It’s a message that we convey to all of our clients, and it has proven to be extremely valuable, and “trendy” within our own space for good reason.

2. Goldilocks Analysis and Planning

Manufacturing companies are full of engineers; engineers love details, analysis, and planning. Which is also a tendency for a lot of people, myself included at times. However, we’ve learned that there is a “Goldilocks” zone for analyzing a situation before deciding. Do just enough research, make a decision, and move on. Pareto rule, 80/20 rule… you get the idea. We have seen too many companies get themselves locked up in planning massive projects that never actually get started and eventually fail. However, we’ve seen that some companies are getting better in this area.

Here are some ideas and principles that you can keep in mind to keep yourself in that Goldilocks zone, and avoid overplanning when you start a project based on leveraging technology to improve manufacturing operations.

  1. Have a Digital Strategy with some rules/principles in place to provide guardrails,
  2. Select the first several business challenges to solve,
  3. Solve those challenges within the limits of the guardrails of the digital strategy, and finally,
  4. Implement a simple, scalable, flexible architecture in that very first pilot project.

This approach allows for faster starts, faster results, better learning, and more flexibility/scalability in the architecture put in place. Oh, and no overplanning. Keep it simple and effective, gather data, make a data-driven decision, and keep iterating.

More and more manufacturing companies are starting/continuing to learn these ideas and principles, realizing the value, and doing all they can to keep the momentum going in 2022.

3. Developing a Digital Strategy

Speaking of a Digital Strategy…for any business initiative to succeed, whether related to getting real-time data out of your plant to drive efficiencies, production, and profits or any other initiative across the company, the initiative needs goals, strategy, and some rules or principles for making decisions. These tools provide guardrails for making faster decisions and keeping the projects focused on the right course. We have seen companies without them, and they too often fail with projects. This includes wasting as much as $150K or more with other partners on projects that aren’t completed or otherwise fail. If only they had the right focus… 

Executing everything through a digital strategy is an idea that we push heavily at Ectobox. It’s crucial for starting pilot projects, implementing an IIoT or MES system, or any other solution that results in gaining visibility within the 4 walls of the plant floor.

The actual trend moving forward throughout the industry is definitely more focused on the actual technology solution (IIoT, MES), and less focused on the strategy. Having said that, the strategy behind the technology is an extremely important step that is often overlooked. Again, we work with manufacturing companies that are learning to live by these ideas and principles, and it’s something we’re absolutely expecting to see more of in 2022.

Manufacturing Technology Trends 2022 Conclusion

So, there you have it. 3 New Manufacturing technology trends that you probably haven’t seen before, at least in this context. We didn’t base these trends on any outside research. Only our own data, our own conversations, and our own work.

We see each of these principles, trends, or ideas playing a huge role in the advancement and growth of the manufacturing industry in the coming years. And we’re excited to help more manufacturers become data-driven and proactive so that they can thrive in a high-efficiency, high-quality digital future.

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