7 Manufacturing trends for 2022
It’s hard to believe that we have weathered another year in the throes of a pandemic. Strangely, while business is better than it was last year at this time, the outlook feels less certain. The economy seems like it’s on the edge, being impacted by so many factors. To survive and thrive in the year ahead, we’re going to have keep our heads up and our eyes open. As I see it, there are seven heavily interrelated trends that will require our attention and dominate the manufacturing sector in 2022.
Each of these seven trends have so much impact on each other that it’s almost hard to separate them. It definitely creates a scenario in which the most prized qualities for 2022 will be the insight to untangle complex situations and the nimbleness to do something about it. Here are seven factors to keep your eyes on.
Supply Chain – The flooding disaster in British Columbia exacerbated what was already a very difficult situation. It will continue to be challenging to source raw materials and components – at any price. For example, plastic material that we were previously able to get in one to two weeks is now taking six to eight weeks. Over the years, we built a reputation for getting product to customers on time but even our delivery dates have slipped from their exacting standards.
The good news is that we’re managed to secure most of our supply chain for the first half of next year. The bad news is that but beyond that time frame, there are too many variables to be able to predict what will happen.
Manufacturers that have made themselves self-sufficient will be better able to weather the storm. For example, at Algood, we’ve been able to mitigate delays by having our in-house engineering department make changes to our tooling. When a hard to come by manufacturing component like a spray lubrication mechanism was not available, we created our own. To control your own destiny in 2022, you will need to be independent.
Inflation – There isn’t a day that goes by without a price increase on something including raw materials, parts and operating costs. Frankly, it’s out of control and while many suppliers have no choice but to increase prices, some are taking advantage of the situation. Ultimately, inflation may put a damper on growth in the manufacturing sector. Interestingly, many price increases stem from our environmental efforts. For examples, the cost of plating and heat treating has increased significantly because of related carbon taxes.
Staffing – Whether a result of the Great Resignation or lingering government benefits, it’s much harder to find skilled employees today. That impacts production capability and will continue to increase staffing costs in 2022. In addition, the cost of keeping employees safe and healthy continues to rise, helping to fuel inflation.
Growth – The market size of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. is expected to increase 9.8% in 2021. That’s impressive, particularly compared to the 0.4% per year growth in the five years before that. While that’s good news, it comes with its challenges. At Algood, we have seen significant growth in orders but we have had to meet that demand with the same machinery within the same plant. And, as noted above, skilled employees are harder to find. All of that makes ingenuity an essential quality for the coming year.
R & D – Meeting the demands of Covid and simply surviving the pandemic put a damper on new product development. But as the manufacturing sector rebounds, new product development has slowly picked up steam. At Algood, we have a number of new products and re-designs in the works and are looking forward to releasing them throughout 2022.
We are also investing in both physical and human resources. We made significant machinery acquisitions in 2021 and will continue to expand our production capability in 2022. That includes hiring additional uniquely skilled individuals who can help us find ways to produce more product with fewer people hands-on.
Reshoring – The supply chain situation combined with uncertainties about quality and accuracy is fuelling the trend toward increased North American manufacturing. Many of our customers have implemented mandates against materials produced off-shore. In addition, many other manufacturers are seeking our assistance in buffering themselves from the effects of overseas production.
Agility – As noted above, all of these trends are interrelated and create a complicated outlook for the year ahead. The difference between success and failure may come down to the ability to quickly forecast change and the flexibility to take action. The challenges of 2022 will take their toll and the companies that have the foresight to zig when others are zagging will win the day. Those are the nimble ones that will still be standing next year at this time.
Of course, staying in touch with our customers will be continue to be key to our success in the coming year. Please let us know about your upcoming requirements and how we are doing. Open lines of communication will allow us to help make 2022 a remarkable year for you.
Let me take this opportunity to wish all of our customers, distributor partners, suppliers and colleagues a very happy holiday season and all the very best for 2022.