Industrial equipment manufacturers face countless challenges, from rising raw material costs and inflation to new regulations and persistent supply chain issues. Yet amid these disruptions, several key trends are emerging, each of which has the potential to reshape the industry in the coming years.
1) New Manufacturing Technologies Take Center Stage
The innovations of the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution are making their way to the industrial equipment sector, improving efficiency and bringing greater visibility and agility to the production process.
Manufacturers are embracing 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, to decrease long production times and lower costs. This approach allows for expedited production on-demand, decreasing inventory costs and enabling manufacturers to quickly respond to changes in supply, design, and demand.
Moreover, factories are integrating robotics to enhance productivity as well as worker safety. Robots improve accuracy and reduce waste, and can be designed to operate unaided around the clock, leading to higher output. New robots boast AI capabilities, allowing for greater flexibility since the same robots can be reprogrammed to accommodate design and production changes. By delegating monotonous, often hazardous assembly line work to robots, factory employees can focus on safer, more conceptual tasks, further boosting productivity and improving working conditions.
The Internet of Things (IoT) allows for greater communication and visibility across stages of the production process by connecting the various machines and computers involved, via the Internet. Specifically, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) presents opportunities to improve efficiency and decision-making for manufacturers by capturing and instantaneously communicating data. This tool allows for the optimization of the entire production process, including better utilization and maintenance of machines on the factory floor, as well as valuable insights to guide decision-making for business leaders.
Finally, new devices bring augmented reality (AR) to the factory to provide both real-time instructions and information about the manufacturing process. Together, these new technologies point to a more productive, intelligent future in the industrial equipment space.
2) Equipment-as-a-Service (EaaS) Offers a Different Approach
The industrial equipment sector is undergoing a massive transformation with the emergence of the Equipment-as-a-Service strategy. Rather than focusing solely on one-off equipment sales, businesses are embracing subscription-based or usage-based strategies that mutually benefit both equipment manufacturers and customers.
From manufacturers’ standpoint, focusing on solutions rather than merely products provides a more reliable long-term source of income, and allows businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors through investing in higher margin services. For customers, this approach fills an increasing desire for customization and flexibility.
From anticipating maintenance and technician support to providing inventory management systems, industrial equipment manufacturers are embracing creative new ways to set themselves apart and increase revenues over the course of the customer lifecycle.
3) Sustainability Becomes a Key Focus
Today, sustainability is at the forefront of conversations across industries, and will certainly have major implications for industrial equipment businesses moving forward. With pressure coming from regulators and governments as well as investors and the public, it is vital that manufacturers evaluate how sustainability factors into their business. Chemical management is an increasingly important consideration, as new laws in the US and EU introduce new restrictions on the chemicals acceptable in products.
However, the emerging emphasis on sustainability also presents tremendous opportunities. Manufacturers can pivot towards products and components that are good for the environment. Government subsidies and growing public interest in technologies such as solar panels and electric vehicles will undoubtedly benefit equipment manufacturers involved in the supply chains of those products, for instance.
In addition, many environmentally-friendly practices also make good business sense. Taking steps to reduce waste in the production process both decreases the strain on landfills and lowers production costs for manufacturers, while implementing renewable energy is often more cost-effective in the long run than traditional sources of energy.
Finally, as customers increasingly prioritize climate consciousness, manufacturers can gain an edge on the competition by transparently outlining the measures they are taking toward a sustainable future. It is critical that customers and manufacturers view sustainability as a shared goal, both from a business standpoint and in order to better protect the environment.
Staying Ahead of The Curve
As new technologies and approaches transform the industry alongside ongoing disruptions, it is vital that industrial equipment manufacturers stay ahead of the curve, and that begins with ensuring that their supply chains are adaptable and resilient enough to keep up.
Learn more about Supplyframe’s Design-to-Source solutions for the industrial equipment industry today!