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Some Trends Influencing Smaller Manufacturers Today

Although some think of it as a traditional, fairly conservative field, the manufacturing industry is anything but. In fact, manufacturing has changed greatly over even the past couple of decades, and the pace of evolution is not slowing down. Recent trends in manufcaturing are not confined to the largest and most competitive operations, either, with many of these now impacting even relatively small companies. As a result, just about any manufacturing business will need to account for most of these realities or risk falling behind.

One of the broadest and most important trends of recent years has been an increasing emphasis on digitization. For quite a few years, many smaller companies felt comfortable lagging a bit in this respect, even while global-scale manufacturers typically forged ahead. Thanks to greatly improved accessibility and relatively novel options like cloud-based platforms, however, even small manufacturers today typically feel driven toward the digitization of their operations. In addition to delivering plenty of inherent benefits, the shift also often opens up other opportunities of truly interesting kinds.

For instance, a fully digitized manufacturing organization will often find it much easier to make use of the lean approaches that have for so long benefited the largest and most successful companies of this kind. A completely digital manufacturing organization is one that allows real-time, ongoing, accurate insight into its status at every moment and stage of production. Being able to monitor every aspect of manufacturing in this way means being able to slot much more smoothly into the kinds of highly streamlined lean supply pipelines that many larger organizations have come to greatly prefer.

Taking on a more digital approach to manufacturing will also typically mean being able to leverage the power of automation to a greater extent. While human workers are often skilled at dealing with unexpected developments, machines tend to be much less so. Predictability, in fact, is one fundamental prerequisite for moving forward with automation in many cases, and a digital manufacturing operation tends to be much easier to judge in this and other respects. As a result, accepting the benefits of a more digital approach to manufacturing often opens interesting doors of other kinds in the process.