3 Manufacturing Industry Trends to Watch for in 2024

2024 trends

It’s been a tumultuous few years for manufacturers. It’s led many to examine each emerging technology in hopes that it might hold the key to such challenges as supply chain instability, transportation challenges, worker shortages, and inflation.

We’ve kept our eyes open as well. And we’ve spotted three trends that could help 2024 be the year that manufacturers finally begin to recover from the unprecedented events of recent years.

1. The sustainable circular economy

In every corner of the world, governments and public-private consortiums are working together to slow, if not stop, climate change and environmental degradation.

Manufacturers face the challenge of complying with the patchwork of local and international regulations enacted in this effort. They’re also challenged with spearheading their own efforts to move away from the traditional “take-make-waste” model, which relies on fossil fuels, overproduction, and excessive waste.

That’s why more and more manufacturers are turning to a circular economy, a sustainable model based on the “7 Rs”:

  • Rethink
  • Redesign
  • Repurpose
  • Repair
  • Remanufacture
  • Recycle,
  • Recover

The circular economy seeks to promote those sustainability values by optimizing efficiency across the entire lifecycle and associated processes of manufactured products.

The circular economy leverages technologies like AI and machine learning. Manufacturers can program intelligent agents to discover hidden data patterns in their industrial processes. Those data patterns can then be exploited to automate and streamline those processes, increasing their efficiency.

Recycling, refurbishing, and remanufacturing processes are applied to each stage of manufacturing to reduce waste and cut costs, thus diminishing a company’s carbon footprint.

Low-code application development platforms can break down the silos that hamper manufacturers’ circular economy initiatives. They can also tie together and harmonize the collaborative efforts of the ecosystem partners participating in those initiatives.

2. Democratization of machine learning, AI, and generative AI

Low-code democratizes application building by opening it up to workers with little to no development background.

In the same way, the incorporation of AI, generative AI, and machine learning tools into low-code platforms is putting those powerful capabilities into the hands of those with no specialized training in their use.

As manufacturers integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing into their shop floor operations, they have an explosion of data on their hands. Being able to incorporate AI bots and logic assistants into applications gives manufacturers the help they need to find and extract the value from their sprawling data sets.

They can then use that data to augment their workforce with better and faster decision-making abilities. That, in turn, helps the whole organization work together to reimagine their products and processes.

3. Industrial data strategy and fabric

Manufacturers churn out reams of data from equipment, work orders, time series, 3D models, lab tests, point cloud scans, an strategies and data fabrics to gain a comprehensive view of all their information assets. A data strategy is a highly dynamic process for supporting the acquisition, organization, analysis, and delivery of data.

If data strategy is the “what,” then data fabric is the “how.” A data fabric integrates multiple data pipelines and cloud environments using intelligent and automated systems. It can then offer invaluable insights on how to leverage that data more effectively.

By integrating data from across the organization, a low-code platform gives manufacturers the tools to tightly bind the “what” of their data strategy with the “how” of their data fabric. The result is a more engaged workforce, more actionable workflows, and more return from AI and machine learning investments.

Keep Composed About Emerging Technology

Now that you’re caught up on the latest technologies, you’re asking yourself, “How can I incorporate them into my existing operations?”

You’ll find that more and more manufacturers are embracing something that once might have been a trend, but now is becoming an established practice: composable operations.

The concept of composable operations is built around creating processes from simple building blocks. Composable operations make it easier to bring together tools, processes, and expertise from across the organization. They fuel the flexibility a manufacturer needs to bring the latest technology into the organization and integrate them smoothly with existing infrastructure. They also help reduce costs, improve efficiency, and allocate resources more effectively.

Low-code development platforms operate on the same concept as composable operations. Platforms like Mendix provide manufacturers with the ability to create applications from easily repurposed blocks of code. Nothing makes integrating new technology easier than the ability to quickly and economically create the solutions that make that technology work.

Want to learn more? Try Mendix for free or browse our Marketplace to see our manufacturing-specific resources.d supplier and customer interactions.