The Future of Manufacturing in 2021
The year 2020 introduced a new decade with unprecedented obstacles for warehouse facilities.
The industry learned that every challenge presents an opportunity for manufacturing
advancements. You can bet that future manufacturing technology will reflect how assembly lines
and warehouses are responding to COVID-19. What else can you expect from 2021 trends in
the manufacturing process? We’re looking ahead to see how manufacturing in 2021 will
continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and what exciting trends are just around the corner
1. Manufacturers Plan Their COVID-19 Exit Strategy
From health to economy, COVID-19 impacted the world on a variety of levels. While many
businesses have shut down, there are those fortunate ones that have stayed open.
Manufacturers that managed to survive were forced to nix their pre-pandemic strategies and
adapt accordingly. With 2021 hopefully bringing an end to COVID-19, it’s important to have a
pandemic exit plan for your company.
Since the manufacturing industry is so diverse, it’s safe to say that no two companies’ exit strategies will look the same. We’ve identified the following possible pathways businesses can take to reset, depending on how they’ve been affected by the pandemic:
- Reduce or permanently retire. Operating models that have been pushed to the point of breaking will need a reassessment.
- Return to pre-pandemic levels. While this won’t be the norm for most, some businesses will have less difficulty simply going back to the previous way of manufacturing products.
- Reinvent business models. To stay afloat and remain relevant, many companies will
need to focus on new opportunities or refocus capacity
2. The Internet of Things Continues to Grow
As a manufacturing trend in 2020, the internet of things (IoT) isn’t going anywhere anytime
soon. Predicted to become even more popular in 2021, the IoT consists of the interconnection
of unique devices with an existing internet infrastructure. By utilizing smart devices,
manufacturers can make informed, strategic decisions with real-time data. Future manufacturing
technology like this will help with cost reduction, enhanced efficiency, improved safety and
product innovation. Manufacturers can expect new opportunities for connecting operations and
transforming business processes.
3. Employee Safety Becomes More Important Than Ever
When it comes to the 2021 trends in the manufacturing process, safety will be at the forefront.
While workplace safety has always been essential, it will be even more crucial as our COVID-19
world unfolds. From maintaining a sanitary work environment to practicing conveyor safety,
manufacturing companies can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avoid life-threatening
injuries. Additionally, manufacturers will demand greater transparency from suppliers in attempts to track issues and claims throughout the assembly process. As one of the latest trends in manufacturing, increased safety levels will have a direct effect on supply chain visibility.
4. Touchless Service with Virtual and Augmented Reality
COVID-19 has presented major obstacles in the manufacturing industry, but augmented reality
(AR) and virtual reality (VR) are here to help. These manufacturing advancements in technology
will make it easier than ever for technicians to provide remote assistance. By sending your
customers AR- and VR-enabled devices, you can walk them through troubleshooting, repairs
Expect AR and VR to present exciting opportunities for manufacturers. Before the pandemic hit, consumers had been hesitant to explore touchless service and preferred having a technician onsite for a job. In 2021, however, customers will value the touchless service AR and VR can provide. Why? Using AR and VR will help promote social distancing and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Doing this will also give manufacturers the chance to explore new lines of business and stay ahead of the game in the industry
5. Manufacturers Reevaluate Shoring & Sourcing
In the wake up COVID-19, Americans realized how very dependent the U.S. was on offshore
manufacturing. As the pandemic showed, we can find ourselves without access to enough
critical supplies. Expect to see reshoring play a big role in manufacturing in 2021 as more
businesses value domestic production.
Manufacturers will also re-evaluate sourcing — the process by which a business brings
operations closer to where its finished product is sold. By sourcing raw materials from domestic suppliers, manufacturers will help reduce dependency on foreign countries.
These 2021 trends in the manufacturing process will help businesses remain resilient to any culture COVID-19 disruption. Should countries shut down again due to COVID-19, these manufacturing advancements will help businesses remain resilient and protect the U.S. economy
A Closer Look at the New EZ Guide Rail System
Popular in the packaging and distribution industries, conveyor guide rails are required when accumulating products to prevent the products from walking off the conveyor. As the latest conveyor guide rail design to hit the market, Span Tech’s EZ Guide Rail System can solve many of the primary issues that traditional guide rail systems have.
Carefully designed by our team of expert engineers, it’s sure to make your manufacturing process more efficient than ever before.
Unique Product Features
Conveyor guide rails play a crucial role in keeping your product in line and secure during transport. From directing products to a certain position to transferring them from one conveyor to another, these systems have a lot of functions.
Span Tech’s new EZ Conveyor Guide Rails take these features to the next level. Our latest product has notable benefits that set it apart from other guide rails on the market.
No Protruding Conveyor Guide Rail Brackets or Shafts
Traditional conveyor guide rail systems tend to use a solid-mounted shaft to mount their guide rail. This can be a major safety hazard. Why? When the rail is adjusted to its “maximum open” position, the shafts will stick out from the conveyor’s sides. This makes it easy for people to get their clothes or body parts caught and can cause injuries on the job.
In comparison, our EZ Guide System doesn’t contain protruding brackets or shafts. You won’t find mechanical components sticking out from the sides of the conveyor during an adjustment. Instead, all the mechanics take place within the shrouded portion of the system. This keeps everything safe for anyone walking close to the conveyors.
Designed to Remain Adjustable Through Curves
While many of the traditional guide rail systems can be made to adjust their width in straight sections, few can be adjusted through a curved portion of a conveyor. Why? The radius of a section is simply too difficult for them. To adjust through a curved portion, guides must bend and their length has to increase or decrease as the radius is changed.
Our EZ Guide System is equipped to handle adjustments for both straight and curved sections. Its design has a radius that can change as the guide’s width is increased or decreased in a curve.
Product Variation Types
Our EZ Guide Rail System is currently available in the following two different configurations:
- Fixed — This variation offers a basic, fixed-width guidance solution and is ideal for single-width products and/or safety concerns like overhead conveyor installations.
- Manual Adjustment — As the entry-level system, this variation is adjusted by manually unlocking its guides and positioning the guide rail by hand. This setup is quite similar to almost all other guide rail systems on the market.
- Incline & Decline Conveyors
Each of these configurations can be made for almost any type of conveyor and still provide the ability to guide through curves. Two of these types — the Fixed and Manual Adjustment — were first introduced at Pack EXPO Connects.