2015 is right around the corner and the pace of technology development continues unabated. Cloud computing…advanced manufacturing…Internet of Things (IoT)…cybersecurity…3D printing…flexible manufacturing – there is no doubt that manufacturing has, and will continue to, embrace digital technologies to accelerate production cycles and shorten lead times.

_year2015What’s in store for 2015? Let’s take a look at the predictions.

IndustryWeek expects five trends will shape the market in 2015.

  • SMAC: Social, mobile, analytics, and cloud adoption are gaining speed to drive higher customer engagement.
  • Social media: Digital tools will further impact business model innovation as manufacturers become more customer-centric.
  • Internet of Things: IoT will increase automation and drive efficiencies, which will create job opportunities in R&D.
  • Capital Equipment: The need for original design and speed to market means manufacturers will increase capital spending to upgrade plant, equipment, and technologies.
  • Next-Shoring: The rise of a more technical labor force, rising wages in Asia, higher shipping costs, and the need to accelerate time to market are leading more companies to shift manufacturing from outsourcing overseas to developing products closer to where they will be sold.

Forbes magazine predicts that reshoring will balance out offshoring, but not across the board. According to Bill Conerly, “The greatest reshoring will occur in industries that benefit most from cheap natural gas and have access to global markets. These are chemicals and metals (both primary manufacturing and fabrication).”

International Data Corporation (IDC) recently released their “Worldwide Manufacturing Predictions for 2015.”

  1. By 2017, manufacturers will actively channel 25% of their IT budgets through industry clouds that enable seamless and flexible collaboration models.
  2. In 2015, product quality, including compliance, will underpin two thirds of all IT application investments across the manufacturing organization.
  3. By 2016, 30% of manufacturers will invest substantially in increasing the visibility and analysis of information exchange and business processes, within the company and with partners.
  4. In 2015, customer centricity will require higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which will motivate 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  5. By 2017, 50% of manufacturers will explore the viability of micro logistics networks to enable the promise of accelerated delivery for select products and customers.
  6. By 2018, 75% of manufacturers will be coordinating enterprise-wide planning activities under the umbrella of rapid integrated business planning.
  7. By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  8. By 2018, 40% of the top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of the top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  9. In 2015, 65% of companies with more than ten plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.
  10. Investments that enable digitally executed manufacturing will increase 50% by the end of 2017, as manufacturers seek to be more agile in the marketplace.

Information Technology Group takes a look at the challenges facing manufacturing IT.

  • Manufacturing companies need to see some really strong numbers regarding potential returns before investing in a new manufacturing IT project. Most will fail to meet the bill. Instead companies will turn to process improvement as a way to become more competitive.
  • In 2015, there will be even more big attacks and more companies climbing on board to get serious about security. Measures that can increase security include cloud storage, remote desktops, and biometric security devices.”
  • As product lifespans shrink, it’s imperative to embrace flexibility. Manufacturing companies are leveraging social media to identify what the market wants and using real-time data tools to adjust output and maximize profits.

What do you see coming down the road for 2015?