There are many manufacturing innovation trends to stay on top of today. Advances in automation and cloud computing are sure to change the face of manufacturing for years to come. But what about soft trends in 2018? The right soft trend can make just as much of an impact on your manufacturing operation as some of the big manufacturing trends. Here’s a look at a few soft manufacturing trends you may want to keep an eye on moving forward.
Supply Chain Transparency
We truly live in the information age. Everyone not only wants to know everything, but they also want to know right now. Some of the most successful manufacturers are featuring total transparency in their process — not just to other teams on the supply chain, but to their customers as well. This not only increases trust, which can inspire loyalty both among employees and consumers, but can also help you unearth and correct problem areas faster.
Collaboration vs. Competition
Hand in hand with transparency comes a spirit of collaboration vs. competition. Employees, especially younger ones, are much more interested in working together than in showing that theirs is the top department or section. Advances in data sharing and access make it much easier for employees to work together, even when they are on different teams, and the best workforces are taking advantage of this.
A soft trend that each manufacturing enterprise will have to learn how to contend with for themselves is the shifting demographics of your workforce. The Boomers are speeding towards retirement, often taking most of your executive team with them. Gen X-ers and Millennials are moving into those roles and many of them may not be prepared for them or don’t want them. Owners and managers will have to figure out a way to make this transition work.
Generational Changes Part II
Among the older executives who stay and the new generation coming in, there may be very different attitudes about how to leverage new technologies for manufacturing success, particularly when it comes to new manufacturing innovations like cloud computing and augmented reality. Older executives may have a bit too much faith in the “old ways” and may frustrate Millennials and Gen Zs who are ready to innovate and use new technologies to boost the organization to new levels.
How these soft trends and others like them will affect your specific manufacturing business will all depend upon how you approach them and how prepared you are for them when they appear at your company. The fight between tradition and new ideas is not a new one, but with the rapid pace at which new ideas appear and evolve in the digital age, how you manage that fight is more important than ever before.
Recognizing the value of new technologies and making sure to keep open lines of communication between older and more experienced and younger and newer employees is vitally important to stay relevant in the new world of manufacturing.