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3 Analytics Trends for 2023

Digitalization, collaboration, and sustainability will be the focus of industrial companies

Creating an innovative and collaborative workforce will continue to be a central focus for the process manufacturing industry in 2023, and that’s one of three trends emerging as we turn the calendar to a New Year.

A review of our own customer needs and research noted by respected economic analysts suggest that the industry will see many of the same trends next year that dominated the process manufacturing industry in 2022. Among the findings? Organizations will spend more money on technology as they move forward on their digitalization journey; they will seek ways to encourage a collaborative work environment; and they will strive for Net Zero to achieve sustainability goals.

Here’s a deeper dive into the top three trends for 2023.

1. Investing in Advanced Technologies, Analytics, and Machine Learning

Most process manufacturing companies have been in the early phases of their digitalization journey for years. They already are collecting and storing operational data and have seen some of the potential it has for mitigating loss and improving safety. Still, to move forward on a digitalization journey, companies need to invest in solutions that analyze their operational data for hidden clues about process behavior and performance. Technology spending has increased yearly for the past several years, with the most recent projections from Gartner being near the $4.4B mark for 2022.

Next year, the manufacturing industry is expected to continue to spend heavily on new technologies that help organizations create smart factories. Technology could include sensors, historians, or industrial analytics software, for example. More advanced organizations are considering digital twins, which create identical digital processes for testing and simulation purposes.

As organizations move beyond the data-driven phase of their digitalization journey, they begin to improve their analytics maturity level and become interested in democratizing this data throughout the organization. According to Data Science Central, companies will look at solutions that can break down data silos and make information available to everyone who needs it.

Further investments in technology will happen throughout the organization. Deloitte reports that 20% of manufacturers are experimenting with or developing a metaverse platform for their products and services that will enable them to further digitalize the factory floor. Additionally, 72% of the manufacturing specialists that Deloitte surveyed said they believe critical supply change shortages will persist into 2023. That will lead to spending on systems that optimize supply chains, such as those that create supply chain redundancies.

2. Developing a Workforce That Fosters Innovation and Collaboration

Workplaces have changed dramatically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are leaving their places of work in greater numbers than at any time in the past. Companies have struggled to replace the leaving workers while continuing to adapt to a different global economy with a smaller workforce supply.

The outlook for talent will remain tight into 2023. Manufacturing companies will focus on two of the outcomes of the changing workforce: A gap in knowledge from the employees who have left and a need to fill the open roles themselves.

Deloitte notes that voluntary work separations continue to outpace layoffs or other methods of staff reduction. A reduced workforce can lead to lower profit margins and inefficiency. Therefore, manufacturers will employ strategies designed at employee retention.

With new technologies and industrial analytics, workforce retention has a lower effect on production. Onboarding time also becomes shorter. While technology can help mitigate the loss of workers, artificial intelligence cannot replace human intelligence. Greater collaboration between operational experts and their digital counterparts will be necessary as workforce shortages continue. Collaboration across teams and sites, and sharing knowledge, will help companies remain agile and competitive.

Industry Week recently talked to manufacturing technology experts about their thoughts on Industry 4.0 as they head into a new year. Hooi Tan, president of Global Operations and Supply Chain at IIoT solution provider Flex, said this about the need for central need for operational experts and data scientists:

(The idea is that) Data scientists (will) flock to the factory. The factory of the future is digitized, connected, automated, and powered by next-gen sensors and tech. But that’s not the reality for every manufacturing organization today. In 2023, data scientists, engineers and architects will be the most critical factory workers around. These employees will be instrumental in laying the infrastructure to digitally transform the factory and connect it to other aspects of the business, such as the supply chain, so leaders can draw actionable insights from machinery and make impactful business decisions.

More companies also will embrace machine learning techniques and a collaborative method to deploy these models into operations during the year ahead.

3. Improving Sustainability Initiatives Throughout the Organization

Sustainability is as much a state of mind as it is an actionable agenda. Today, companies work to adopt practices that meet certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

Much like the move toward data-driven decisions, embracing sustainability no longer is an option. It is essential to remain competitive and achieve social respect. The rising cost of materials, changing customer expectations, and increasing regulatory fines are just some of the factors that manufacturers need to consider as they prepare their 2023 budgets.

Sustainability starts by taking actionable information derived from clues hidden in operational data. Often, these clues can lead to a variety of improvement projects that optimize operational performance. Processes that run at their optimal efficiency help organizations achieve Net Zero and other sustainability goals. Furthermore, the information obtained from analysis can be turned into a report that can be sent to a regulatory agency to demonstrate that a plant is complying.

Closing Thoughts

The process manufacturing industry will see trends related to people, digitalization, and sustainability throughout 2023, with people being the central focus.

As companies seek to make the most of a reduced workforce, they can empower operational experts to make data-driven decisions for themselves. With data analytics, organizations can improve operational performance to cope with the global economic challenges and come out stronger than before.

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