The 6 Manufacturing Buzzwords that Will Define 2021
2020 has not been the year many thought it would be, and it’s not likely the term “pandemic” made it onto any buzzword lists at the beginning of the year. That said, we’re hopefully nearing the end of this uncertain period in modern history. Looking ahead, it’s sure to be far from business as usual. So, what can we expect in the coming year? A look at some of the biggest buzzwords for 2021 might help cast a little light on what to expect in our post-pandemic world.
None of these terms are new and, in fact, most have shown up on buzzword lists in the past. The reason they’re appearing on this list is because they’re the de-facto solutions to the questions and challenges many manufacturers will face in 2021. Here’s what they are and why they matter.
- ERP: Enterprise Resource Planning — and to some extent Enterprise Asset Maintenance (EAM) — is becoming increasingly important as cost-conscious endeavors become more commonplace. In a post-pandemic world, planning resources and maximizing return on investment (ROI) through smarter spend is what will set successful manufacturers apart from those that struggle to control costs. ERP will be a focus in 2021 not only because of its utility, but because of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rise in smart ERP software solutions.
- Assistive technology: Although HMIs (human machine interface) have been around for a while, assistive technology is a moniker you’ll hear a lot in 2021. Why? Because now, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are part of the conversation. As these technologies rise to prominence in 2021, they’ll be grouped into the conversation under “assistive technology.” Get ready for new maintenance and repair capabilities and new service models, courtesy of assistive technology.
- Reshoring: As wages in developing countries rise and supply chains continue to reel after the pandemic, reshoring will become more commonplace. It’s a term that’s already made headlines at the tail end of 2020, and it’s one that’ll continue to dominate the landscape in 2021. Cost of labor and transportation are on the rise, which means we can expect manufacturing jobs to come back to U.S. soil. These variables, alongside manufacturing technologies, are pushing producers to reestablish themselves at home.
- New normal: This is a term everyone is sick of hearing, but it’s not going away. The new normal is a reality that’s slowing coming to fruition and will likely entrench itself throughout 2021. This encompasses a broad array of concepts: supply chains, value streams, service lines, cost of doing business, and more. The “new normal” is an adjustment period and 2021 is the time frame in which that adjustment will occur.
- 5G: If the past few years have been all about the IoT, the next few are going to be about fine-tuning and expanding it. This is only possible as 5G becomes a reality. As factories become digitized and more sophisticated, 5G will increasingly bear the burden of facilitating the massive amounts of data transfer that power them. Thankfully, 5G has already proven it’s up to the task. Now, it’s all about availability and rollout.
- Sustainability: Climate change isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting worse. Manufacturers are expected to step up their efforts to control emissions and pollution, or face consequences. Expect new regulations to take shape in 2021 with a new Democratic administration. Moreover, expect state-level initiatives to control output and pollution. The sooner manufacturers embrace sustainability and focus on the triple bottom line, the sooner they’ll ready themselves for the future.
These buzzwords aren’t the only ones that will dominate headlines in 2021, but they are among the most important. Use them as a gateway for looking at the future and what to expect in the coming months.