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What’s Trending in Manufacturing for 2017 and Beyond

As a leading provider of manufacturing insurance in California, Precision Manufacturing Insurance Services (PMIS) keeps its fingers on the pulse on what’s going on in the manufacturing industry. Following are some trends we are seeing – from onshoring to advanced technology processes, supply chain transparency, additive manufacturing and more.


In recent years, offshoring of manufacturing to Asia has slowed. This is in part due to quality control issues, and increased labor, transportation, and energy costs, coupled with stricter regulations and environmental concerns, that have led many manufacturers to rethink offshore manufacturing strategies. Additionally, the current administration is likely to put into place new government and renegotiated trade policies encouraging and promoting U.S. manufacturing.

Advanced technology

As we discussed in previous articles, 3-D printing creates increased opportunity, faster prototyping, and disruption in the manufacturing industry. Rapid prototyping allows product designers to test and troubleshoot their products quickly and will only accelerate as 3-D printing availability and capability expands. 3-D printing also creates new opportunities for short-run and custom-run parts manufacturing, including tooling and molds for the plastic mold injection industry. While all of this creates a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers, 3-D printing also allows consumers to be more involved in product design, which could create greater disruption for a manufacturer’s traditional business model.

The growth of ‘cobotics’ Robotics and automation are already at play in many factories around the world, but not every manufacturing robot is designed to replace its human counterpart. Many robotic machines instead are designed to complement humans. This is where the term “

Robotics and automation are already at play in many factories around the world, but not every manufacturing robot is designed to replace its human counterpart. Many robotic machines instead are designed to complement humans. This is where the term “cobotics” comes from – the cooperation or collaboration between a human and a robot to do a particular task. This approach is especially popular in the U.S., particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will disrupt manufacturing forever 

According to recent estimates by McKinsey, the potential economic impact of IoT applications in 2025 is between $3.9 and $11.1 trillion, of which $1.2 to $3.7 trillion is allotted to IoT applications within the factory environment. Also known as Industry 4.0, IoT uses smart technology and real-time data to increase productivity and reduce costs.  A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study of Industry 4.0 adoption shows that 89% of all manufacturers surveyed see an opportunity to use Industry 4.0 to improve manufacturing productivity. Reducing supply chain costs (37%), enabling product innovation (33%) and attaining faster time-to-market (31%) are the next level of benefits manufacturers expect to attain, cites the study.

Transparency in the supply chain

Manufacturers will continue to work toward greater transparency in the supply chain, driven by ongoing pressure to reduce costs and innovate. Transparency is also a trend valued by many consumers, particularly Millennials. These consumers want to know where something is manufactured, what materials are used, and how long it takes. Enterprise resource planning (ERP), management information systems (MIS), and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are all evolving to offer more transparency and visibility into the supply chain process. Systems will be more connected, bringing supply chain data upstream where it can be analyzed.

Sustainable manufacturing will grow

Millennials are also demanding sustainable products, with the market for green products growing in the manufacturing industry just as with any other industry. As Millennials are beginning to make up an ever-larger percentage of purchasing decisions, manufacturers will have to speed up and expand their adoption of sustainable processes as well as continue to make advances in alternative energy and technology.

Blockchain as the new ‘trust’ platform for manufacturing value chains

A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a permanent digital ledger of transactions and share it among a private or distributed network of computers. As Additive Manufacturing (AM) expands, blockchain technology will provide a digital thread throughout the AM process, from initial design concept through completion of a finished part. The ability to dissect the digital thread and fully understand all segments of the AM process will bring new financial and supply-side partnership deals, ensure IP protection, provide trusted proof of product provenance and certification, and ratify material traceability and transparency. We will share more information about this important technology in future articles.

About Precision Manufacturing Insurance Services

PMIS continues to assess these trends both for potential opportunities and challenges presented to our manufacturing clients. For example, along with advanced technologies and the leveraging of data comes an increased risk for cyber attacks. Keeping abreast of these trends allows us to ensure that our clients are properly insured as they move forward to embrace change and compete in the new Industry 4.0. For more information about our insurance products and services, please contact us at 855.910.5788.

Sources: Manufacturing Business Technology, Quality Digest, Optimization, Pivot International, World Economic Forum

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