2021 Predictions for Manufacturing in North America

2020 – what a year it’s been. Whilst the pandemic continues to affect the world’s economies and healthcare systems, and many industries are still reeling from the ongoing uncertainty, we’re feeling optimistic about the stability and growth of our sector. We’ve seen ups, we’ve seen downs; many businesses have had to pivot, change their approach, adapt. But the fact remains that there’s a lot of good to be taken from this year.

With that being said, as recruitment experts in this space, what 2021 predictions for manufacturing are we making as the new year approaches?

Emphasis on securing global supply chains

In the initial months of the pandemic, our computer and mobile screens were plastered with photos of empty supermarket shelves. The breakdown at the beginning of the year highlighted many holes in supply chains across the country and around the world. Whilst things have certainly tightened up, Covid exposed how easily the manufacturing industry can become disrupted; as such, we believe we’ll see many manufacturers in North America putting a huge emphasis on securing their supply chain and creating a stable contingency plan. We’ll see more businesses working towards a collaborative global network – the notion of “we’re all in this together” will continue in the new year, helping manufacturers mobilize as, when and how they need to continue production.

Automation to fill various skill gaps

The manufacturing industry’s skills shortage has been discussed for a long while; whilst of course we’d all love to see humans filling the spaces (particularly now that the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the stability of the industry and the career paths within), inevitably technology will have a hand in the game. Add to all of this the new challenges being faced by many manufacturers – like socially distanced production lines and other very “human” considerations which need to be made – Covid has thrown a real spanner in the works for businesses, providing an opportunity for 2021 to see automation filling skills gaps and solving problems across the board.

Acceleration of digital transformation

Further to our last point, if it’s not something which was on the agenda already, it should be a priority for the coming year. Manufacturing businesses will need to embrace advancing technologies as a means to overcoming inefficiencies in their operations; this applies to both automation and data. Digital transformation means understanding where technology can increase productivity; it means collecting and analysing the near-infinite data at our fingertips to push continuous business improvement. Digitization will soon at least affect, if not benefit, every aspect of business – from supply chain and enterprise to the shop floor and end users. Our third 2021 prediction for manufacturing lies in digital transformation helping to maximize smart decisions and create even more cohesive relationships between producers, suppliers and customers.

Transparency and accountability

From material resources through to labour conditions and sustainability, we believe that transparency across the entire manufacturing process will become evermore important and valued between manufacturers and the core brands they work alongside. Whilst ethical operations have been trending since time began, especially from a consumer perspective, transparency and sharing is sure to be encouraged and expected amongst all parties next year and beyond.

Fundamentally, 2020 has taught us that there’s an awful lot we simply can’t predict – but a mixture of common sense, experience and keeping an ear to the ground says that all of the above are sound 2021 predictions for manufacturing.

The manufacturing industry is an exciting place to be – and we at Next Level Group are looking forward to what the next year might bring. What would you add to this list? Leave us a comment or question on any of the above and don’t hesitate to get in touch to talk more.

Any views or opinions expressed within this blog do not necessarily reflect the official policy of  NLG. Any points made are for general information only, and none should be relied upon as a basis for making any business, legal or other decisions. Neither NLG nor the author can be held responsible for any reliance placed by you on any information or material within this article.

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