Trends (So Far) in the Manufacturing Industry: 2017

As with in all other industries, trends in manufacturing tend to come and go on a rotating basis. Each year brings with it a new set of trends—some of which will stick around for years to come—that characterize the direction in which the industry moves for better or for worse. 2017 has already seen a few trends that have impacted manufacturing, with more likely to come down the road.

Trying to get a sense of where the manufacturing industry is heading? Here are a few trends that are worth paying attention to, all of which have taken hold so far in 2017.

  1. New Pricing Structures

Many manufacturers are noticing a sea change in the industry that has largely to do with the ways in which pricing occurs. This is especially true for those who offer extensive service contracts, in which case overall pricing most often incorporates costs for maintenance into the fold. As condition-based maintenance continues to become the norm, fewer visits from technicians should be required, which means manufacturers will need to account for this in their pricing. Customers will be looking for more favorable terms, and manufacturers should thus establish new fee structures to reflect this.

  1. Wider Reach of IoT (Internet of Things)

The Internet of things—commonly abbreviated “IoT”—is growing more as new products get released each month, and not just on the consumer end. Manufacturers are seeing new pieces of technology enter the shop floor that are capable of capturing data and processes, and then communicating this information to other systems. It could be as simple as a printer on one’s desk that sends an alert to their smartphone once a job has been completed, or other systems that allow manufacturers to meet ever-increasing B2B demands, such as ERP software for manufacturing. With the coming of new technologies, it’s likely that the influence of the IoT will continue to ramp up.

  1. 3D Printing

2017 is looking to be the year that many manufacturers look toward using 3D printing for large-scale products. Aerospace manufacturers, for example, are using 3D printing for engines and other system components, as the ability to 3D print metals has improved dramatically in just the past year alone. While smaller manufacturing companies have utilized 3D printing techniques for non-critical components, the future is in using the technology to print large metal pieces, forever shaping the manufacturing industry in the years to come.

  1. Increasing Analysis of Big Data

Big Data may seem like an overwhelming concept, but it’s shaping the way organizations across every industry make predictive analyses. This is especially true for manufacturers, who have been using metrics gleaned from Big Data in 2017 to drive innovation and address perceived  needs that are missing from the space. Reliance on reports based on Big Data analyses will increase with time, as this information can lead to the creation of industry-altering products and services.

Manufacturing has always been an incredibly versatile and flexible industry, adept at adjusting to whatever new trends enter the space. If what 2017 has brought thus far is any indication, the industry will see somewhat of a golden age by the time 2020 arrives.