As reliably as spring follows winter, January brings predictions.

As 2019 unfolds, why not find out what the experts are saying about the manufacturing industry. As we’ve often discussed here, it’s essential to know what’s going on in the economic and manufacturing landscape, because change is happening faster than ever, and the successful company is one which can adapt and pivot smoothly.

Volatility Is the New Normal

Here’s how they put it on axial.net:

Above all, markets seek stability, but current socio-economic conditions are anything but stable. Volatility is everywhere, including tariffs, regulations, trade agreements, tax policy, and fluctuations in government spending (particularly infrastructure spending). Those involved in running manufacturing businesses, however, have come to accept volatility as business as usual. Rather than deferring action in hopes of tides turning, and rather than proactively embracing change to get ahead of the curve, managers agree nimble planning and rapid execution is key to succeeding in this new reality.

Intriguing Predictions for the New Year

I ran a few online searches, which always uncover a rich vein of predictions for the year. Here are a few that struck me.

More predictions from Axial.net:

  • We’ll enjoy a strong short-term economy, with an economic contraction hitting around 2020.
  • Labor supply is the big challenge facing today’s manufacturing companies.
  • Rising interest rates are deterring some enterprises from borrowing, which hampers their growth potential. However, other businesses are moving to borrow now and lock in interest rates.

Tool Ergonomics made the top-three predictions at Manufacturing.net. “Well-designed manufacturing tools that are lighter, quieter and have less reaction ensure operator safety,” which contributes to fewer work interruptions and fewer quality violations, along with promoting employee wellness, loyalty and satisfaction.

Industry Europe cites blockchain technology in their forecast. Here’s how they describe it:

Blockchain is a method for recording data and verifying ownership. At its most basic, blockchain refers to data in a ledger that’s distributed over a large network. Each member of the network assists in verifying the authenticity of the data, which no one individual has complete control over. This enhances the credibility of the data by eliminating the opportunity for fraud, duplication or erasure. Many copies of the data are out there, and none can be changed without alerting the others.

Lastly, “Manufacturing 4.0” is widely cited as the wave of the future. This refers to a constellation of technologies syncing up to improve processes. Industry Europe says:

Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent combination of physical assets, automation and digital information. The goal is that pertinent data related to production is transparent to all decision makers in real time. With accurate data and a lean system that eliminates waste, decisions can be made and carried out quickly. Some of these technologies are becoming increasingly familiar to most of us, such as augmented and virtual reality, while others, like blockchain verification schemes, are still somewhat niche but will come into their own in 2019 and beyond.

Forewarned is Forearmed

As always, forewarned is forearmed. We all want to finish 2019 stronger than we started, and that requires staying in touch with the latest technologies and best practices.