5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2022
The manufacturing industry is in a constant state of growth and evolution. As a leading 3D print bureau in Texas, Alchemy Industrial is committed to staying on the forefront of the latest trends that present both challenges and opportunities for us and our customers.
Today, we’re looking ahead to 2022 and breaking down some of the emerging trends we foresee in the new year.
5 Emerging Manufacturing Trends
1. The continued growth of additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing remains a fast-growing industry, with projections showing that it will reach $26.68 billion by 2027. Students are learning about 3D printing as early as pre-kindergarten in some schools, and industries like aerospace and automotive are continuing to adopt this innovative technology as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing.
What factors are driving this remarkable growth? Advances in materials science, for one thing. Companies continue to develop more and more materials to use for additive manufacturing. Major chemical companies have even established groups focused exclusively on producing materials for 3D printing.
Additionally, software and modeling tools are making additive manufacturing more accessible to everyday engineers. And as the many use cases for 3D printing beco
me increasingly clear, more companies are beginning to seriously consider how their products could benefit from this manufacturing solution.
2. Breaking up the production process
As product development becomes more sophisticated, it stands to reason that the actual production process will continue to break into different segments, and those segments will require different skill sets. Here’s what Alchemy Industrial foresees happening:
Machine shops in Houston and other major cities with access to highly skilled labor will become manufacturing hubs for high-end, sophisticated components. The production of simpler components will take place outside of these industrialized hubs, where the parts may not demand the same high level of machining skills. Finally, we predict that lower-skill assembly operations, which are currently outsourced primarily to China, will begin gradually moving to Mexico, where average wages are lower.
There are many other potential benefits to relocating assembly operations out of China and closer to the U.S., such as the convenience of working in the same time zone, a shorter supply chain, and generally easier access.
3. A continued shortage of skilled labor
Labor shortages and skills gaps certainly aren’t new issues for the manufacturing industry, but unfortunately there are no signs of improvement anytime soon. This major roadblock threatens to derail the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.
Despite more than half of manufacturers experiencing year-over-year growth in 2021, hiring issues persist. Before the pandemic, 38% of manufacturers struggled to find workers with the right skill sets for open jobs, and that number has since jumped to 54%.
There are many factors contributing to this problem, including a lack of young people expressing interest in manufacturing. Machine shops in the Houston area and all over the country must invest time and money into developing the next generation of manufacturing workers to ensure a healthy future for this industry.
4. Commitment to ESG (environmental, social, governmental) considerations
As companies move toward increased transparency with the general public, pressure to commit to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria is mounting. Some socially conscious investors will even review a company’s ESG criteria before making a decision to fund them.
Calls for ESG assurances will inevitably drive demand for localized manufacturing operations, which ensure lower carbon emissions and more ethical labor practices than global supply chains.
5. Collapsing supply chains
In recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of manufacturers calling to “reshore” supply chain operations, and we expect this trend to continue into 2022.
This process involves returning overseas business operations to a company’s home country. The goal of reshoring is to localize as much of the supply chain as possible so the bulk of operations once again occurs close to home.
Manufacturers once believed that they could get a lower cost per part by offshoring operations to companies with low-cost labor. This assumption may have been true a decade ago. But it didn’t account for the additional costs of maintaining overseas operations, like international shipping, import tariffs, and complicated logistics.
It also didn’t account for supply chain risks and vulnerabilities, which have become increasingly clear over the last few years.
There is so much to consider as manufacturers move into the next year of work. When we look ahead at market demands and workforce opportunities, we can make better decisions to improve business for ourselves and our customers. How will your company use these trends to its advantage?
Here at Alchemy Industrial, we’re excited about what the future has to offer. If you’d like to talk about reshoring your supply chain or leveraging additive manufacturing for your parts, get in touch.