The US manufacturing industry has felt the impact of 2020 and this year’s outlook will deeply depend on where they felt the biggest impact. Decreases in production and forced shutdowns caused a significant decrease in employment levels. But now, moving into 2021, the ability to move quickly could be key for the manufacturing industry to recover from recent disruptions in the supply chains and revenue streams.
Industry leaders can start by identifying specific challenges that this past year has put on their specific operation, such as the irregularities of market demand and then analyzing the breaking points to find opportunities for improvement—to set new goals for becoming more resilient.
Solving forecasting challenges may be critical. Manufacturers should look at their forecasting challenges and develop better processes that are resilient to disruptions—like the one we are currently facing. In the coming months, visibility in forecasting is likely to be the most important capability for manufacturers. They must have the ability to view processes, transactions, and other activities completely and accurately within the operation (digital technology could be an important enabler for this).
Digital twins could be critical to resilience and flexibility. Most simply, this blueprint can virtually recreate a product, the production process, and its real-world performance without having to take any other physical action before actual implementation.
Manufacturers can turn to automation to increase their supply network visibility. For instance, using a digital supply network (DSN) to gain real-time understanding of activities across a complex supply network, as opposed to physically bringing together supply and demand planners to manually share updates from their viewpoints.
Many manufacturers seem unlikely to return to the same work arrangements that were in place before the recent disruptions. They are now seeking ways to re-architect work, employees, and the organizational environment to manage uncertainty. According to recent research, 61% of surveyed executives are planning to develop a hybrid model for their processes over the next three years.