November 8, 2023
Deloitte has released its 2024 Manufacturing Outlook report, examining predicted trends for next year’s manufacturing industry and both generative AI and the industrial metaverse play key roles.
Findings include the anticipated increased role of generative AI – with “immense potential” in applications including product design, aftermarket services and supply chain management – a shift to agile systems and rising investments into digitization to drive sustainability and cost savings.
The report also highlighted the need to leverage the knowledge of retiring workforces to avoid a skills gap in technical manufacturing jobs.
Businesses are also expected to adapt to changing supply chain requirements. In the wake of the pandemic, supply chain models and processes shifted to favor resilience and, now that businesses have addressed this need, there is a new turn to agility as consumer demands for customized goods begin to boom.
“Now that many manufacturers have gone through significant transformations to keep assets running efficiently and minimize reductions in output, they are shifting focus to meeting consumer demands for customized goods,” the report said. “[This] requires a more nimble and agile operation.
“Many are turning to digitization to stay profitable amid the shift away from high-volume/low-cost production.”
A recent Deloitte study on the industrial metaverse also found the majority of surveyed manufacturers have made significant investments in digital twins, 3D modeling and 3D scanning, all of which act as key building blocks for the industrial metaverse.
The latest report said this investment is only set to continue rising, with the industrial metaverse becoming even more established and ultimately used to improve businesses’ operational efficiency and sustainability.
“In 2023, we saw companies use their smart manufacturing technology, including digital twins, 3D modeling and IoT to lay the foundation for leveraging the metaverse,” Deloitte said. “In 2024, we will see these technologies also help scale manufacturing improvements across disparate processes and people. They can also help companies with decarbonization and their journeys to net-zero emissions.”
According to the report, some manufacturers have also started leveraging the industrial metaverse to boost supply chain resilience, creating digital twins of assets and processes to identify optimization possibilities.
By digitizing operations, businesses are also expected to see advancements in their sustainability strategies, turning to low-emission automation solutions, as well as data analytics to help companies identify where they can target both emissions and costs.
“With investments in digitization, organizations are seeing a natural improvement in overall equipment effectiveness and saving costs in the long run,” the team said. “When the asset base is truly digitized, waste is automatically reduced, which helps organizations get a head start in achieving ‘green’ operations.”
While many of this year’s challenges are anticipated to follow businesses into 2024, including economic uncertainty, labor shortages and supply chain disruption, the report stressed the need for businesses to embrace digital transformation as a crucial means of combating these challenges.
“Technology is poised to play a significant role in supporting manufacturers in taking on the challenges they may face in 2024,” the report said. “...As the manufacturing industry continues to navigate the post-pandemic recovery, persistent shortages, economic uncertainty and record investment, technology will likely remain a pivotal force in driving efficiency, resilience and innovation in the supply chain.”
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