What will manufacturing look like in 2022?

January 11, 2022

With a new year underway, many are left to wonder what 2022 has in store for the manufacturing industry. Off the heels of a tumultuous couple of years – marked by supply chain disruptions, pandemic-related closures, labor shortages and fluctuating demand – manufacturers are rightfully hoping for the best.

Here are a few trends manufacturers should take into consideration in 2022.

Increasing operational costs
From one end to another, the entire supply chain is reeling from a substantial increase in production costs. Most likely due to a shortage of drivers, trucking costs rose 36% in 2021, according to research from Cass Information Systems and shared by Bloomberg. Of course, this spike in distribution expenses will represent another significant hurdle for manufacturers in 2022.

Digital solutions on the rise
Though the adoption of smart technologies is nothing new to the manufacturing industry, it's surely accelerated by the growing need to address rises in cost and shortages in labor. Indeed, manufacturers are realizing the important role automation plays in mitigating disruption and improving operational resilience.

In fact, many manufacturers are already making investments in new technologies. Automating certain manufacturing tasks will greatly make up for lost productivity, but also free up workers to focus on other critical business operations. Manufacturers also stand to benefit from additive technologies, like digital twins and 3D printing, according to Dr. Jeffrey Graves, president and CEO of 3D Systems.

"Significant delays in logistics are hampering organizations' ability to deliver products and services in a timely fashion," he told IndustryWeek. "Being able to manufacture all critical components at the point of assembly, or point of care can streamline these activities."

Knowledge transfer will be a top priority
Given the aging Baby Boomer generation is approaching retirement, not to mention the lack of skilled labor to begin with, facilitating knowledge transfer ought to be a major worry for manufacturers. As 2022 rages on, the manufacturing industry will need to make a concerted effort to address the substantial skills gap ahead of them.

At the current rate, Deloitte estimates there will be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the United States by 2030. That staggering number will be compounded by the sudden loss of institutional knowledge that retiring demographics will leave behind. Organizations should be taking steps to pass down expertise to younger generations of workers, hopefully in time to mitigate this lost productivity – which Deloitte data suggests could topple $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

Cybersecurity remains a dangerous obstacle
As if manufacturers don't have enough to worry about, now there's the threat of cybercrime rearing its ugly head. Hackers are increasingly targeting companies on the supply chain in hopes to extort their sensitive data for ransom payments.

Data from Cognyte indicates that of all industries, manufacturing is disproportionately targeted by ransomware attacks. In fact, manufacturing accounts for almost 30% of all ransomware victims globally. In turn, it's increasingly important that organizations employ the necessary security measures to thwart any malicious actors that may be lurking on their network.