2021 Manufacturing Predictions


The Brexit roadblock continues

“Brexit will continue to act as a roadblock for manufacturers into 2021 even if a deal is reached. With the majority of UK export markets based in Europe, we’re already seeing countries like France and Germany prioritise internal demand ahead of UK orders – and this could be an ongoing trend. Export numbers are further weakened by the prospect of a no-deal, as markets hedge their bets and begin to evaluate alternative sources from which to import. 

“Deal or no deal, we expect to see manufacturers struggle to drive efficiencies as a result of supply chain issues caused by shipping delays and lack of easy access to raw materials or intermediary goods. To mitigate the impact of this, leaders should consider predictive tools such as AI, automation and blockchain to speed up time to market and reduce costs caused by slow, rigid and outdated IT ecosystems. These digital tools will undoubtedly play a big role in 2021, allowing manufacturers to drive operational efficiencies at scale, and help them weather the dual-sided storm of Brexit and COVID-19.”


Remote working will put robots to work

“Organisations may be able to operate factories just as effectively at half capacity as at full by adopting automation technologies to support remote working. In 2021, we can expect to see greater investment in this area as manufacturers look to future proof their operations against the prospect of another pandemic, or similar unforeseen events. The application of automation and other Industry 4.0 technologies such as AR, VR and analytics can ensure efficiencies are achieved with minimal impact, impacting both the top and bottom line of organisations.

“Additionally, remote working and automation will provide manufacturing organisations with better access to talent pipelines irrespective of geographical location – something that is becoming increasingly important in an age of digital skills post-pandemic.”


5G’s time to shine

“The development of Industry 4.0 has slowed somewhat in specific verticals, due to the economic impact of the pandemic deterring some manufacturers from investing in new technologies. In 2021, however, we’ll see things speeding up again as the industry tries to get back to pre-COVID levels.

“From big data analytics to connected devices, 5G in particular will provide the key building block to next-generation factories, providing the ultra-reliable low latency connectivity on which Industry 4.0 depends. Thanks to the speed and reliability of networks provided by 5G, manufacturers will be able to move closer to their vision of the smart factory, realising the full potential of disruptive technologies and digital.”


‘Black swan’ events bring predictive technologies

“2020 has been a major learning experience for the manufacturing industry, and a key lesson from the coronavirus crisis is to think of risk as inevitable.


“In 2021, we’ll see increased adoption of AI within manufacturing and supply chains to better predict these risks and solve them quickly. The use of AI tools will help bring automated insights in a fraction of a second – insights like how to manage the logistics network, how to re-route the fleet, and how to make a delivery happen. There will also be greater uptake in other digital technologies like 3D printing and blockchain, as organisations look to better prepare themselves in anticipation of future, similar black swan events.”