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Two Important U.S. Manufacturing Trends for 2020 & Beyond

8/26/20 10:00 AM


Important statistics and trends for manufacturers

For this article, my focus is on where many small and emerging manufacturers are truly trending based on my experience in the industry. Specifically, on how these small manufacturers are doing in the framework of Industry 4.0 or the fourth Industrial Revolution. Some manufacturers are moving to adopt components of Industry 4.0, such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, mobile devices, data collection and analysis, and digitalization. Others are not.

There is a major disconnect with what some say are trends in the manufacturing industry versus what we see in reality. Instead of the highly integrated, advanced technologies we read about, we actually see a large number of companies using loosely patched together systems consisting of barely implemented ERP, or accounting solutions that are heavily reliant on Excel and other work-around processes to run their manufacturing sites. There’s a big disparity between all the buzzwords and what many companies are currently executing.

If we look at what many companies are doing as reasonable first steps in the move toward Industry 4.0, there are a couple notable trends worth mentioning.

The move to cloud-based ERP applications

There is no doubt that companies are moving from on-premise applications to the cloud. Over 75% of our new prospects are interested in cloud options for a new manufacturing ERP system.

Great sources of U.S. manufacturing trends for those adopting the cloud include:

Market Watch: “Cloud Manufacturing Market 2020 Global Covid-19 Impact Analysis, Trends, Opportunities, and Forecast to 2024

IT Supply Chain: "The Future of Manufacturing Technology"

Tech: "Hybrid Cloud adoption in manufacturing sector to hit 45%: Report"

Nortal: "How Manufacturing Companies Can More Effectively Leverage the Cloud"

GMI Summit: "The Impact of Cloud Computing in Manufacturing"

The digital transformation

Another popular component of Industry 4.0 is digitalization. Our team often hears from customers and prospects about the desire to partake in the digital transformation of the shop or manufacturing floor. We have customers that are leaders in this area, capturing real-time data on mobile devices with applications such as VISUAL Shop Floor Mobile or Infor Factory Track. Others companies are taking advantage of the digital capabilities of Infor CloudSuite Industrial ERP with Infor Birst Business Intelligence built in, with all data kept in the CloudSuite Industrial ERP Data Lake for providing real time data analysis.

Then again, we still see manufacturers that don’t collect real-time data (much less anything digital) because of a lack of ERP and technical infrastructure. Those companies and other manufacturers not moving towards digitalization will fall behind, or even further behind their competitors.

Good sources of U.S. manufacturing trends for those making the digital transformation include:

Forbes: "Top Five Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2020"

BeeKeeper "Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing"

Industry Wired: "Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing for 2020"

Netguru: "Top Digital Transformation Trends"

Machine Metrics: "Top 5 Current Industry Trends"


The US Manufacturing trends for companies moving to the cloud validate it is happening, and many are making the move to cloud or hybrid deployments in rapid fashion. It’s happening and the trend will continue.

The digital transformation trend is ongoing as well. It will probably lag behind the cloud migration as a change in infrastructure is needed for the digital transformation with newer technologies, mobile and web- based applications being the conduit for the ability of companies to adopt and deploy new and modern tools.

If you would like to learn more about moving to the cloud or discuss your manufacturing operation’s digital transformation, please reach out for a free assessment. The team at Visual South will discuss options for improvement and address your business issues.

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Tim O'Brien

Written by Tim O'Brien

Tim has over 20 years of successful experience helping companies improve their processes and operations using enterprise software solutions. Those enterprise solutions include Enterprise Resource Planning for manufacturers, Service Management for service oriented companies, and Enterprise Asset Management in the process manufacturing industry.