Change happens fast in this brave new world. The manufacturing floor of 2020 will little resemble the manufacturing floor of 1970. Here are a few things that really pique my curiosity. How will these trends play out in the manufacturing industry?

Recruitment and Workforce Training at Forefront

The skills gap in manufacturing is getting a lot of attention. Manufacturing is demanding increasingly specific skill sets and greater ease with technology than ever before. As a result, leading companies are boosting recruitment efforts and exploring new talent pipelines. The public arena is beginning to step up, as they change curriculum and provide support for career development and school instruction. Businesses are also investing in training, education and community outreach.

Predictive Maintenance Keeps Operations Humming

Predictive maintenance programs monitor equipment in real-time, using a variety of performance metrics. Automated data collection helps management better understand how systems work, and to anticipate when they’ll fail. Many organizations say a single hour of downtime costs in excess of $100K, so investments in this technology promise a payoff.

Biotechnology is Booming

Biotech is a growth industry, valued at $364 billion in 2016. DNA fingerprinting and gene therapy are revolutionizing health care and pharmaceuticals. In food processing and agriculture, biotech is supporting improved food safety and nutritional content. Industrial biotech is working to reduce environmental damage caused by paper and textiles production.

Advanced, Lightweight, High-Strength Materials

Efforts to increase efficiency and safety are fueling a revolution in materials science. We’re seeing bio-based polymers, advanced ceramics, composites, high-performance alloys and more. Industries ranging from medical to electronic to automotive are anticipating (or experiencing) minor revolutions in material technology.

Demand for Energy Storage

Alternative energy is a valuable and necessary technological advance, but it’s got demands of its own: energy storage. Increased solar energy generation on commercial, residential and industrial buildings all require an ever-increasing capacity for energy storage. In 2017, energy storage capacity in the U.S. was just six gigawatts. It’s predicted to top 40 gigawatts by 2022. The high energy needs and typical sprawling building of manufacturers make them prime candidates to benefit from improved energy storage for solar.