How is the manufacturing landscape going to look like in the near future? In a few words, the industry is going to evolve in three major areas: implementing recent technological advancements (Industry 4.0), finding ways to address post-pandemic challenges, and meeting sustainability requirements. Let’s take a closer look at these and other manufacturing trends that are going to impact the industry in 2024.
Leveraging Cutting-Edge Technologies
Under current conditions of economic turbulence, workforce shortage, and supply chain disruptions, manufacturing organizations should work towards increasing the efficiency of their operations, achieving business agility and resilience. This is why they are actively implementing the concept of smart factories that integrate data, sensors, and the latest technologies (AI, IoT, 5G, data analytics) in the production process. Here are some of the examples.
- AI assists in performing complex tasks, enhancing decision-making, forecasting equipment failure, ensuring quality control, and more.
- 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping, maintenance and repair as well as creating objects on-demand, which reduces production time and dependence on the supply chain.
- The Industrial Internet of Things makes it possible to collect data from machines and other connected objects to analyze their conditions and performance.
- Collaborative robots (cobots) work together with people and can learn to perform new operations.
- Augmented and virtual reality solutions allow manufacturers to monitor and control the production process without the need to be on-site.
Smart factories provide organizations with numerous benefits — they increase productivity and efficiency by optimizing processes, help reduce costs, provide end-to-end visibility of manufacturing operations, and support sustainability. At the same time, they are vulnerable to cyber risks. So, as manufacturing companies continue leveraging smart factory technologies, they should focus on cybersecurity and get prepared for possible cyber threats.
Addressing Talent Challenges
Despite the increased automation, most industries are still facing talent challenges, and manufacturing is no exception. An aging workforce, a lack of skilled workers, competition for the digital workforce with other industries, and difficulties in retaining talent — these are just some of the problems that manufacturing companies have been facing for several years, and that are going to remain in 2024. According to Deloitte’s research , manufacturers have made some progress in tackling talent issues and attracting and retaining talent, for example, they started to offer flexible scheduling to workers and reward them. However, there are still some measures to be taken in 2024:
- Leveraging digital tools for more effective talent acquisition (e.g., AI-driven applications).
- Upskilling the existing employees and establishing relationships with educational institutions to provide students with the required skills.
- Tapping into retirees’ expertise to impart their knowledge to the young workers.
In addition to that, as the talent shortages aren’t addressed quickly enough, the manufacturing domain is going to face one more challenge — delivering increased output with a decreased workforce. This requires manufacturing organizations to review their processes, increase work efficiency, and support available employees in upskilling and bridging their skill gaps. 
Navigating Supply Chain Disruptions
Supply chain challenges have been affecting industries since the start of the pandemic. Up to date, organizations have developed some ways to overcome these challenges, and the situation is gradually getting better. However, there’s still a lot to be done to return it to the pre-pandemic level, especially with regard to the current geopolitical tensions. Let’s explore how the manufacturing industry is going to cope with the disruption in 2024.
Digitalizing the supply chain
One of the ongoing supply chain challenges is the shortage of required components, which makes further production difficult and leads to delays. This is intensified by persisting economic turbulence and uncertainty. Digitalization of the supply chain makes it an integrated ecosystem, which is visible to all stakeholders — from suppliers to customers. 
This allows for achieving better visibility across the whole value chain and in such a way reduces risks, minimizes lead time, optimizes decision-making, and increases the supply chain resilience. For example, a manufacturer can create a digital twin of the supply chain, which can be used to simulate diverse scenarios and be prepared for them.
The other way to achieve supply chain resilience is reshoring, e.g., relocating manufacturing facilities to an organization’s home country. This practice provides companies with numerous benefits:
- It saves time and costs for transportation;
- It optimizes quality control;
- It reduces lead time and time to market;
- It creates job opportunities for local people.
As a result, this increases supply chain resilience and decreases its dependence on global issues, so this trend is expected to continue in 2024 and beyond.
Sustainability and Related Challenges
The green manufacturing trend is expected to remain relevant in 2024 and beyond — there are numerous legal requirements to reduce environmental impact in all industries, and manufacturing plays a pivotal role in meeting them. Green manufacturing involves reducing waste and environmental pollution, using recycled materials and renewable energy, etc.
At present, manufacturing companies are increasingly investing in green initiatives. However, they face a number of challenges and risks related to implementing green initiatives, which will remain until the period of transition to green manufacturing is finished. These challenges include:
- Technical readiness for green manufacturing;
- Higher production costs;
- Customers’ readiness to use other materials and pay more;
- Managing the batteries’ lifecycle.
In 2024, manufacturers are expected to continue making efforts to address the above-mentioned challenges and succeed in implementing green initiatives (e.g., they can partner with external organizations providing sustainability solutions, look for renewable fuel technologies, invest in electrification, etc.). [3; 4]
Providing Aftermarket Services
Though this isn’t a new manufacturing trend, it has become increasingly common for manufacturers to offer aftermarket services in the recent years. This is also related to the more common use of advanced technologies, e.g., sensors, IoT, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, etc. These services range from supplying spare parts to AR-based troubleshooting assistance. Providing aftermarket services gives manufacturers numerous benefits — it creates opportunities to generate value, increases customer loyalty, and gives companies a competitive advantage. Therefore, we expect this manufacturing trend to remain and evolve in 2024.
The manufacturing landscape isn’t going to change dramatically in 2024 — most of the last years’ trends are expected to remain and evolve this year. Additionally, the industry is going to face some challenges related to current economic turbulence and pandemic consequences. First of all, manufacturers are expected to continue embracing digital transformation and leveraging the latest technological advancements, as it will help them gain a competitive advantage and address current challenges. Also, the industry is going to navigate the challenges caused by supply chain disruption and employee attrition. Finally, sustainability initiatives are expected to gain momentum this year — manufacturers are going to implement more and more initiatives aimed at decarbonization and electrification.
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- Top 10 Manufacturing Trends for 2024. AdvancedTech.
- Industry 4.0. How Digitization Makes the Supply Chain More Efficient, Agile, and Customer-Focused. (2016). PwC.
- Manufacturing Industry Trends and Outlook for 2024: What You Have to Look Forward To. Goodwin University.
- 2024 Manufacturing Industry Outlook. Deloitte.