Industry 4.0

5 Major Trends Affecting the Manufacturing Industry & Strategies for 2024

January 2024

Following a period of contraction throughout most of the past year, the manufacturing industry still confronts headwinds as it moves into 2024. The sector is undergoing intense changes in response to many shaping forces – such as evolving regulations and cyber threats, emerging technologies, shortage of skilled labor, and supply chain shortcomings.

This blog post delves into current industry trends and their implications on business strategy and partnership management for organizations operating in the sector.

 

 

Let’s explore the 5 Megatrends Impacting Manufacturers


1. Leveraging Tech Advancement to Improve Cost-Efficiency, Safety, and Sustainability

Digital innovation is expected to play a crucial role in supporting manufacturers in their short and long-term objectives of efficiency, security, and business resilience.

AI, 5G, and IIoT are gaining prominence, as well as data analytics and cloud computing in production environments to provide real-time insights and end-to-end visibility.

However, as technology advances, cyber threats evolve hand in hand. 56% of manufacturing organizations were hit by ransomware in 2023.

Prioritizing cybersecurity alongside digital projects is crucial, and assessing suppliers’ cybersecurity preparedness is recommended to mitigate disruption and data exposure risks.


2. Elevating Cybersecurity from an Afterthought to the Primary Focus: Manufacturing is the Most Attacked Industry

Manufacturers have surpassed financial institutions as the prime targets of cybercrime globally. Thus, organizations are now focusing on prevention by adopting a risk-based approach to precede known threats.

Along with the need to be proactive in risk management, this alarming trend underscores the urgency for robust cybersecurity measures throughout the entire manufacturing network. To manage third-party risks, manufacturers are compelled to demand higher security standards from their suppliers.

For machine builders, this means adjusting to the new threat landscape by adopting advanced IT and OT security protocols. Failing to adapt would put them at risk of short-term disruptions in their ability to service and support their machines – but could also lead to long-term consequences, including being de-selected as future suppliers.


3. Navigating Uncharted Waters: The Regulatory Tsunami

The manufacturing industry is witnessing a relentless wave of evolving legislation – likely driven by, among others, the increased cybersecurity risks in the sector.

Regulatory bodies are becoming more stringent, introducing new measures and reinforcing existing ones – just think of the NIS2 Directive or the Cyber Resilience Act, to mention a few examples. This phenomenon reflects a broader commitment to enhancing security standards, addressing emerging risks, and fostering a more regulated and accountable manufacturing landscape.

The shift in the regulatory environment places an increased responsibility on manufacturers to not only keep pace with the legal changes but also to proactively integrate them into their operational frameworks.

Consequently, the trend has a spillover effect on manufacturers’ suppliers – particularly machine builders – who are presented with a choice: comply and maintain their position as a long-term supplier or fail to comply and jeopardize existing partnerships and future opportunities.


4. Updating the Ecosystem: New Demands When Choosing Suppliers

Since the onset of Covid-19, manufacturers have been concentrating on managing dynamic and challenging supply chains. While 2023 offered a degree of stabilization, delivery times have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

In response to that, and to the ongoing components shortage, manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital supply chain solutions to enhance visibility and resilience. According to a recent Deloitte survey, 76% of manufacturers are adopting digital tools to gain better transparency in their value chain – including logistics, procurement, production, delivery, and distribution partners.

As they embark on their digital transformation journey, manufacturers expect the same innovation roadmap from their suppliers, who need to align their services with the market demands to position themselves as relevant, valuable, and forward-thinking partners.

Similarly, suppliers are expected to update their services and tech stack in compliance with the new regulatory requirements impacting manufacturers. This adherence opens the door to long-lasting business relationships, increased market share, and a competitive edge. On the flip side, non-abidance undermines the potential to be chosen as a future supplier.

 

5. Enabling Flexibility and Remote Work as a Solution to the Labor Market Tightness

A 2023 survey revealed that attracting and retaining a quality workforce is the primary business challenge for almost 3 in 4 manufacturing executives. To address the talent shortage, manufacturers have been adjusting their workforce policies, keeping flexibility at the forefront.

In the same study, half of the respondents pointed out that their company offers flexible scheduling and remote work to their production workers and OT professionals. Moreover, they have been employing digital tools to foster “work from anywhere” options – such as solutions to remote access IT and OT devices to perform maintenance and troubleshoot from afar.

By facilitating remote work, Secure Remote Access (SRA) solutions offer great flexibility, particularly in emergencies or within a globally dispersed workforce.

Additionally, enabling remote access opens up new opportunities for companies by broadening the talent acquisition scope. It allows them to leverage a global talent pool by recruiting remote workers from diverse geographical locations. This approach not only facilitates access to specialized skills that may be scarce locally but also mitigates the impact of skill shortages in specific regions.
 

Secomea’s Pledge to Long-Term Success 

Secomea is committed to helping manufacturers and machine builders navigate the current trends and secure their place in a competitive marketplace.  

By partnering with us and equipping your factory floors with a secure remote access solution purpose-built for OT environments, we can help you thrive in the evolving manufacturing ecosystem.  

Contact us to learn more! 

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