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2022 State Of Manufacturing: Digital Is The Foundation For Future Growth

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we reported the findings of our 2021 survey of supply chain, engineering, R&D, and business leaders. We’ve been operating in the “next normal” I described back then for a while now – and though the world continues to navigate disruptions to the global supply chain, companies have adapted and are figuring out ways to thrive.

How are they adapting?

Well, data from our 2022 State of Manufacturing Report shows that most of the hundreds of industry leaders we surveyed are leveraging technology to strengthen their businesses. Over 90% responded that they are using or implementing digital manufacturing tech. Those technologies have a big part to play as leaders prioritize strengthening the fundamentals of their businesses. Among our respondents, the top two business priorities in 2022 are:

  1. Improving manufacturing and supply chain visibility, and
  2. Improving customer experience and satisfaction.

It makes sense that these two things top the list, given events during the past two years that forced companies to deal with unprecedented disruption. In 2022, it’s time to stop fighting fires and surviving and start optimizing operations and growing.

Evolving Innovation to Meet Customer Demands

Experience has taught us all that when it comes to the next supply chain disruption, the question is when, not if, it’ll happen. So, it comes as no surprise that increasing supply chain transparency and agility is of utmost importance to leaders across industries. And the data backs this up. The most highly prioritized digital manufacturing technologies are supply chain analytics and visualization platforms (94%), and on-demand manufacturing platforms (92%).

93% of companies are looking to tech solutions to increase operational efficiency for new product development (NPD). 75% of leaders — I count myself among them — believe that there’s room for improvement in the way engineering and supply chain teams collaborate.

Employing these technologies necessitates new NPD workflows. Forward-thinking leaders are always searching for additional sources of revenue, and nothing serves that purpose like a successful new product line. And while companies have adjusted to a post-COVID world, they still face headwinds when it comes to innovation. Almost half of the respondents struggle to source fast, high-quality options for low volume builds.

And companies must evolve to match evolving customer wants and needs. Of the 97% of survey respondents who are seeing shifting customer demands, the majority have customers who want more sustainable, higher quality products with more advanced features and functionality.

Innovation is becoming table stakes, folks, and streamlining your supply chain is key to facilitating NPD.

Outsourcing Efficiently and Securely Keys Future Success

How do you do it? Well, almost half of the surveyed leaders increased outsourcing during the pandemic, and almost ¾ of respondents view outsourcing positively — with efficiency, quality, pricing, and speed being the main reasons why.

But 88% of companies also want to simplify their supply chains by reducing their number of suppliers and over half want better coordination with them. Respondents said that lack of quality, security, and visibility are all counted among the risks of outsourcing. This is probably why 65% of companies have plans to increase their US manufacturing this year, even as over half are looking to increase the global diversity of their supplier base.

Regardless of how many or where they’re located, leaders are always looking to work with reliable, secure vendors. 97% of leaders are concerned about cybersecurity because protecting company IP is protecting the company itself. It’s why so many of our respondents (88%) aim to work with SOC 2 certified suppliers.

Digital Manufacturing is the Way

The data shows that manufacturing leaders are looking to simplify their supply chains and securely integrate them into the way their companies work. And even amidst supply chain disruptions and increasing customer expectations, the companies that win going forward must be able to build quality, sustainable products at speed.

On-demand manufacturing platforms were built specifically to address all of these challenges, folks.

Instead of an approved vendor list a mile long, you can tap into one pre-vetted network of suppliers that provides built-in resiliency against supply-chain disruptions. And you can do so confidently when that network is actively managed to ensure your quality and security standards are met. Plus, the production process is made fully transparent thanks to an advanced online platform.

The data makes clear that companies are looking to digital manufacturing technologies to position themselves to win in 2022 and beyond.

About the Survey

Fictiv partnered with Dimensional Research to produce our seventh annual State of Manufacturing Report as a way to glean insights from experienced manufacturing leaders around the world. In May 2022, we conducted a survey with over 230 respondents working in industries including medical devices, robotics, automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics, and the data provides an accurate representation of the industry as it stands today.

You can access the full 2022 State of Manufacturing Report here.