Societal Megatrends Shaping the Future of Manufacturing

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Broader societal megatrends are increasingly shaping the transformation of manufacturing. These trends are shaping not only business and industry but will also have a profound impact on society and overall human development.

Changing Demographics: Rising average life expectancy coupled with lower fertility rates in advanced economies are having profound economic and social impacts on society. Regions such as Europe will have increasingly older populations affecting the availability of workers whereas Asia and Africa will have younger populations that could potentially fuel economic growth.

Workforce Diversity: Workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse as firms expand to new geographical markets. An inclusive workforce could support innovation and productivity which makes integrating foreign-born workers and increasing woman participation in the manufacturing workforce a top priority.

Cybersecurity and Responsible Data Use: As huge amounts of information are exchanged through digital means, threats to cybersecurity have become more important than ever. As a result, companies need to adopt sound security strategies to protect crucial company assets, and ensure that data (including those of customers) is not compromised

Environmental issues such as climate change have dominated the environmental debate in recent years. Co2 emissions have reaching unprecedented levels leading to warming of global temperatures, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events. This evolving paradigm presents new challenges for companies requiring them to explore new ways to develop sustainably, such as shifting to a circular model of production which prevents waste and emphasises on the re-use of materials used in production.

More (Local) Production: Whereas globalisation and lower production costs abroad paved the way for outsourcing and global supply chains in the recent past, nowadays there is a trend towards geographical clustering of supply chains evident in the mega-supply chain clusters of Europe, North America and East Asia with centres of gravity in the US, Europe and China respectively. This allows manufacturers to produce closer to local markets and increase customer satisfaction. Domestic pressures to produce locally and protect local jobs have also contributed to this trend.

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