3 manufacturing trends accelerated in 2020: How to prepare for what’s ahead

2020 is a year no one is likely to forget.

Manufacturing professionals are familiar with supply chain and production disruptions, but no one could have predicted the challenges of a global pandemic. Perhaps more than ever, the industry has been pushed to embrace new standards in every aspect of manufacturing.

So, what developments should manufacturers look to adopt to make themselves more agile in an ever-changing environment?

Mike Edgett, the U.S. product marketing director for the medium segment at Sage, recently spoke with several industry media on three trends accelerated by 2020 and illustrated the tactics manufacturers need to seize now to stay ahead of the curve.

Here is a summary of his insights.

Trend 1: The push for sustainable practices

Because of the far-reaching economic effects of the pandemic, consumers are educating themselves more on the impact of supply chains on the environment. Eco-friendly practices are now a forefront buying decision, especially for younger consumers.

Edgett tells the Retail and Hospitality Hub that early adopters of eco-friendly supply chain techniques and visibility will be viewed as industry leaders in this field. As a result, manufacturers need to examine their practices to best meet consumer demands.

Sustainable practices, Edgett tells Industry Today, begin when manufacturers “define relevant areas such as potential raw material shortage or environmental concert and analyze their current systems, reworking to set achievable goals.”

According to a market report by Sage and IDC, the top three sustainability efforts focus on product recycling, low/no-emission internal logistics, and low/no-emission internal supply chain.

Edgett stresses that now is the time for manufacturers to act and make investments that will give them a competitive advantage in sustainable practices post-COVID. There are two guiding principles manufacturers should take on as part of this process:

Go above and beyond existing regulations. Manufacturers need to move past a pass/fail regulation criterion and become ever-evolving organizations that strive for excellence. Not only will this give companies a competitive advantage, but it also means they won’t be caught off guard by future expansions in environmental regulations. Be transparent and take on corporate accountability. Traceability is key here. It increases internal visibility to spot disruptions or potential issues and external visibility to raise accountability. This transparency will only help earn the consumer’s trust and loyalty. Trend 2: Investing in the right technology to increase operational efficiency

According to the Sage and IDC market report, ensuring supply chain optimization includes modernizing and updating IT-related operations and infrastructure, improving traceability and predictability, and reducing cost through waste elimination. Additionally, 64% of distributors, specifically supply chain and ecosystem-focused distributors, are choosing operational excellence as the number one priority for their digital transformation vision.

Companies look to compensate for operational shortfalls by investing in ERP systems, but outdated systems add technical debt that sets manufacturers back. Lack of data visibility in these systems leads to time wasted looking at past data rather than current numbers.

Modern, integrated systems offer seamless communication across supply chains and promote asset maintenance to reduce material consumption and waste. This real-time data accessibility ultimately enhances services and value delivered to the customer.

Additionally, Edgett tells ERP News, ERP solutions that leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provide a “holistic view of the operation, monitor how the product was packed, where the

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