Major Report Highlights Manufacturing’s Digital Divide

A study looking into manufacturing trends has highlighted the technological innovations that have been embraced by the industry, as well as the growing gulf between the business that use them and those that do not.

The annual Trends In Manufacturing report, published by Salesforce, has emphasised the seismic shift that has been seen across the manufacturing world over the past year, with significant challenges necessitating significant changes in how we work.

The report also highlights how there is a significant disparity between companies that have embraced new technology to continue to do business in difficult times and manufacturers who have struggled.

An overwhelming majority (90 per cent) of manufacturers reported impacts to distribution, production capacity and consumer demand among other parts of their business, with major effects in one affecting the rest.

Here are some of the main points of the report.

Digital Transformation A Major Priority

Of the manufacturing leaders surveyed in the report, the vast majority (86 per cent) have highlighted digital transformation as a priority over the next two years, with increasing efficiency and planning for demand (both 88 per cent) ranking higher than this.

Over the past year, social distancing requirements have led to any job that does not need to take place on-site being undertaken from home, and essential work that needs to be undertaken such as maintenance repair requiring new safety protocols such as social distancing.

As well as this, boosting production systems on the shop floor, as well as offering new services are major priorities.

Customer Engagement Has Changed Forever

Customer-facing roles have changed the most, in no small part because how businesses engage with their customers have changed.

Customer service calls are undertaken remotely, factory visits and meetings have been replaced by video calls and inspections, and a lot of business traffic has moved online.

Virtually all manufacturers surveyed (96 per cent) felt at least some effect on the customer-facing side of their business and just over half (52 per cent) believe it to be a permanent change, matching similar studies in other industries.

Siloed Teams A Major Barrier To Business Forecasting

Preparing for the future in the past 12 months has been particularly difficult as a result of especially unpredictable circumstances.

Not helping this is that data and teams have become more dispersed with disruptions to data (81 per cent), lack of collaboration (82 per cent) and using older forecasting tools (83 per cent) all being reported to have had significant effects on forecasting.

Manufacturing Heads Are In The Cloud

Cloud storage, data and operations were rapidly implemented or built up by the middle of last year, and this is no different in manufacturing, as businesses quickly adapted their systems to the new normal and enabled their employees to work wherever they could.

The business leaders who felt most prepared for the next ten years of business had already implemented most of their operations and sales systems in some form of cloud computing system.

These businesses were as a consequence three times more likely to be able to quickly react to market disruptions.

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