Industrial Manufacturing

Top 6 predictions for manufacturing in 2023

The past two years have brought significant disruption to the manufacturing industry. But if there is one thing this has taught us, it’s the importance of using information to create a business advantage and better support the bottom line.

As I look ahead to the new year, here are my predictions for the top trends impacting the manufacturing industry in 2023.

Prepare for disruption

It is perhaps no surprise that the biggest trend affecting manufacturing is disruption. Disruption is now constant, and manufacturers need to plan better to live with it.

Different forms of global disruption, such as climate change, conflict, pandemics and financial instabilities, are driving manufacturers to go digital so they can automate and share processes across factories and supply chains at scale. Efforts are focused on building visibility and resilience across the business—particularly the supply chain.

To prepare for future disruption, manufacturers should shift to a digitally-enabled supply chain. In a digitally enabled supply chain—connected to Smart Factories through IoT—the increasing adoption of digital twins and digital thread combine to make an industrial grid that can track and trace shipments in the supply chain or assets in the smart factory. It can also act as a modelling environment to mitigate and react to disruptive events.

Transformative technologies will drive the digital journey

Driven by the cloud, transformative technologies will continue to steer the digital journey of manufacturing (Manufacturing 4.0) to enable the support for an end-to-end digital backbone—or what I like to call the digital highway—that better serves siloed information to employees, suppliers and customers.

We will see an increase in the use of industry cloud platforms in 2023. As manufacturers accelerate transformation to the cloud, they can improve efficiencies by automating core processes to reduce costs and keep up to date with an increasingly digitally competitive industry. One prime example of this is the global trend towards mandatory e-invoicing.

AI and machine learning can increase the value of processing data lakes of information held by manufacturers. But without the right industry expertise in their cloud platform, manufacturers won’t get the value they need out of their data. According to InfoTech, we’ll see an increase in the use of industry-led data models in 2023, as industries seek to turn data collection into actionable insights.

Improving supply chain visibility and resilience through information

Investments in AI are on the rise. According to InfoTech, 65% of businesses plan to use AI for business analytics or intelligence by the end of 2023 and 63% plan to use AI to automate repetitive and low-level tasks.

In the manufacturing industry, the use of AI and IoT can help companies increase their asset visibility and viability while optimizing inventory management or asset performance. This, in turn, makes supply chains more resilient.

In the year ahead, we will see supply chain visibility and resilience improve through supply chain autonomy—driven by information via AI, IoT, digital twins and digital threads, and delivered by control towers.

Sustainability and environmental, social and governance at the forefront

Manufacturers are increasingly becoming responsible for validating the sustainability of their supply chains and must prepare now for a heightened regulatory environment. The German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, which requires companies to perform due diligence on their supply chain, came into force on January 1, 2023. It is likely that other governments will follow suit. InfoTech notes that in the next year, public companies will be required to report on their carbon emissions by financial regulators in the UK, EU, US, Canada and elsewhere.

Manufacturers should have sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments at the forefront of their business model. Continued commitments to sustainability and ESG will be critical to driving net-zero carbon goals, meeting regulatory requirements and increasing brand loyalty. The pressure is on for organizations to adopt sustainable technology, or what Gartner®refers to as “a framework of digital solutions that can be used to enable ESG outcomes.”[i]

Combatting cyber-attacks with zero-trust

A consequence of the increasing digitization of manufacturing is that it enlarges the attack landscape available to bad actors. InfoTech notes that the number of software supply chain attacks has been on the rise over the past couple years with serious impacts, such as disruptions to critical infrastructure.

With cyber attacks on the rise, manufacturers will need to adopt a zero-trust security model. Cybersecurity policies, risk management, mitigation and recovery strategies—supported by key technologies—will be required to ensure cyber resiliency and protection across smart products, production sites and supply chains.

The increasing importance of technology

A common thread underpinning these trends is the increasing importance of technology in the manufacturing industry. As manufacturing moves forward with digital transformation, and  transformative technology comes to the fore—think quantum computing and the metaverse—the manufacturing industry will need to adopt technologies like cloud, AI and machine learning at faster rates to stay competitive.

Decorative image of a manufacturing worker with a computer

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[i] Gartner, Gartner Top Technology Trends for 2023 (https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/trends/top-tech-trends-gb-pd)

GARTNER is the registered trademark and service mark of Gartner Inc., and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and/or internationally and has been used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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