2024 Manufacturing Trends and Predictions
In 2023, the manufacturing industry experienced some alleviation from COVID-19 era challenges, but some of the typical issues manufacturers often face remained ever-present. Space constraints, a tight labor market, and growing demand have continued to keep manufacturing companies on their toes. Furthermore, a few key pieces of legislation passed in 2021 and 2022 led companies to focus on these areas in 2023:
- Rebuilding infrastructure
- Advancing clean energy initiatives
- Building out the domestic semiconductor industry
- Fostering job growth, workforce development, and equity
Not only have these legislative acts played a role, but technology has also been at the forefront. With 2024 underway, similar trends are in sight, but technology is expected to play an even larger role, from digital solutions and AI to smart factories of the future.
So, what can manufacturers expect in 2024 and how can they be prepared to not only maintain productivity but increase it? In this article, we’re sharing our 2024 manufacturing trends and predictions and what companies can do to ensure continued success this year and beyond.
4 Trends Shaping the 2024 Manufacturing Landscape
Growing Demand for Reshoring, with a Twist!
Reshoring is not a new trend, but in 2024, it will take a bit of a different turn. Experts predict that demand will increase for companies to capture new opportunities in the U.S. rather than bring foreign operations back to American shores. Thus, an emphasis on increasing efficiency and maximizing space utilization in new and existing facilities will continue to take up residence in the minds of manufacturing leaders.
Increasing Use of Robotics and AI
Is anyone surprised? Not us! In 2024, robotics and AI will continue to take root in manufacturing as well as every facet of the supply chain. But this doesn’t mean every facility will suddenly become powered 100% by robots. More than likely, most operations will look largely the same. However, where manufacturers can easily start to adopt robotics and AI will be in back-end ERP systems that handle things like production scheduling, inventory control, and sales. Ensuring your systems are future-proof and tapping into predictive analytics will be paramount to manufacturers looking to stay competitive while tech continues rising.
Navigating Persistent Labor Challenges
Another non-surprise, labor challenges will persist. And this is not just a manufacturing trend. Companies across industries should be concerned with securing and keeping good talent around. This is a trend that is here to stay, so manufacturers should focus on continually improving work environments to bolster employee satisfaction and, ultimately, retention.
Focusing on Sustainability
Yet again, another trend that isn’t new but can be expected to persist into 2024 is an increased focus on sustainability. With topics like climate change and carbon emissions making headlines, it’s no surprise climate impact is resounding throughout the manufacturing industry. A 2023 report noted that while sustainability was important to 87 percent of industry leaders, 40 percent had difficulty scaling sustainability initiatives. But it’s time for manufacturers to act. Focusing on ways - even small ones - to implement sustainable practices into your facility will be a huge benefit to manufacturers looking to strengthen relationships with their end-users.
Enhancing Manufacturing Operations in 2024
Despite these persistent challenges, there are several ways manufacturers can focus on mitigating risk and optimizing facilities to improve operations. One way in particular that helps with the aforementioned trends is focusing on space utilization in your facility. Implementing smart, space-efficient industrial storage solutions can help streamline shop floor-level operations, allowing essential staff to do their jobs quickly, flexibly, and cost-effectively.
UNEX offers scalable, versatile warehouse and assembly line solutions that help manufacturers adapt to the rapidly changing manufacturing landscape. Our lean manufacturing solutions create more value with fewer resources, which increases productivity, worker safety, and more. This ultimately saves money and boosts profit margins for manufacturing operations. UNEX solutions integrate well with automated manufacturing solutions, providing a cost and energy-efficient partner to support digital transformation.
Furthermore, UNEX solutions are sustainable and ready for immediate use. Our flow racks and conveying solutions are gravity-powered, making them far more energy-efficient than automated and powered alternatives.
Let’s take a look at the UNEX solutions that can help combat the challenging trends manufacturers will face in 2024.
Learn lean manufacturing storage principles. Download the Lean Manufacturing Storage Guidebook!
UNEX Flow Racks for Manufacturing
UNEX engineers modular flow racks and gravity flow rack systems to optimize space utilization, accelerate productivity, improve warehouse safety, and lower operational costs. Durable, modular flow rack systems help warehouse operations and manufacturing facilities organize messy pick areas, increase productivity, and maximize space.
FlowCell modular flow racks are storage units and workstations designed for a facility’s unique operation. Our durable, portable flow racks maximize pick efficiency and space for lineside storage, sub-assembly stations, supermarket racks, modular mobile carts, and more. FlowCell provides a flexible, ergonomic solution that supports Lean principles. Modular flow racks organize your inventory, accelerate pick productivity, and eliminate waste.
FlowCell Key Benefits:
- Increase space utilization by up to 50%
- Boost production efficiency by up to 30%
- Minimize reaching and improve ergonomics by reducing injury and fatigue
- Create reconfigurable, flexible storage to accommodate line and process changes
- Ensure FIFO inventory rotation
- Keep the factory floor organized — totes and boxes can be stored in return lanes rather than on the floor
UNEX pre-engineered gravity flow racks provide seamless carton flow to maximize efficiency in order fulfillment, manufacturing, and retail operations. Roller Racks are designed to optimize efficiency, safety, and FIFO rotation in a multitude of settings. They are pre-configured, easy to assemble, and ready when your facility needs them.
Roller Rack Key Benefits:
- Reduce picker travel time by up to 80%
- Maximize flexibility to create standalone carton flow units or add units to create carton flow bays
- Quick and easy to build and install
- Allow for compact storage, reduced freight costs, and less damage
- Improve access and visibility, reduce strain on workers
- Replenish inventory from the back without interrupting processes in the front
Trust UNEX to Help You Navigate 2024 Manufacturing Challenges!
Looking to increase productivity and resiliency in your manufacturing operations? Contact us today to learn how UNEX solutions can support your initiatives in 2024 and beyond. Our team of product experts will be happy to discuss current challenges and tailor solutions to meet the unique needs of your business.