Smart Manufacturing: 5 Technology Predictions for 2021

Manufacturers worldwide are heaving a collective sigh of relief at the thought of putting 2020 far behind them. Economic challenges caused by the pandemic and its impact on operations have pushed the industry to rethink processes and accelerate digital transformation.

Now that a brighter 2021 is on the horizon, industry leaders are shifting gears once again to focus on a COVID-19 exit strategy and preparing for recovery and growth in an unknown market.

According to Forrester, flexibility, resilience, adaptability, and innovation will dominate all things manufacturing in 2021. For many, this means doubling-down on technology investments to fuel operational excellence and develop mature, sophisticated technology ecosystems to not only survive but thrive in the year ahead and beyond.

In 2021, it will be critical for manufacturers to conserve capital and build strong business cases staying hyper-focused on key investments. Cutting down on efforts producing low ROI and freeing funds and people to dedicate time and effort into high ROI generating projects such as smart manufacturing adoption and new technology implementations, will determine growth, scalability, and competitiveness in the new year. 

To help manufacturers navigate where and when to recalibrate their global production footprint, we’ve put together five manufacturing trends to adopt in 2021.


Industrial Iot in 2021

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) market revenue was 133,511 Million USD in 2019 and will reach 215,661 Million USD in 2025, with a CAGR of 8.32% during 2020-2025. 

IIoT still reigns as the top catalyst helping modern manufacturers make data-backed, smart decisions using real-time production insights to conquer revenue goals, reduce operational costs, manage capacity changes, and drive operational excellence.

 According to a study from the MPI Group, “nearly a third (31%) of production processes now incorporate smart devices and embedded intelligence. Additionally, 34% of manufacturers have plans to incorporate IoT technology into their processes, while 32% plan to embed IoT technology into their products”.

Whether it’s leveraging AI technologies, advanced manufacturing analytics, predictive maintenance, or establishing a connected factory linking data, assets, people and processes, IIoT is the common driver.

Expect IIoT to play an even more significant role in shop floor digitization as manufacturers shift to establishing smart factories of the future. 


Shoplogix Analytics-blogimage

Shoplogix has been helping manufacturers overcome the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 from the very beginning. What we’ve noticed is greater involvement from C-suite executives in identifying use cases to solve specific bottlenecks that have been illuminated due to the pandemic such as capacity changes and labor shortages.

Manufacturers are looking to set smart goals for data capture and analysis enterprise-wide to identify hidden opportunities for improvement.

There is a greater understanding of the potential outcomes of collecting real-time manufacturing data and the requirement for having a manufacturing analytics software to automate, categorize and analyze this data to put forth trends and opportunities for optimization.

Manufacturing Analytics (and IIoT) in factories is predicted to have a $3.9T to $11.1T market size by 2025.

The digital maturity of manufacturers will depend on the digitization of shop floors through IoT sensor data collection. Real-time insights gained with this data through smart factory software will make it possible for manufacturers to slice and dice data to gain a full picture of operations. 

“IIoT powered manufacturing analytics are offering exciting new opportunities to accelectate digitization of shop floors and establish connected factories. It’s transformative nature is driving innovative growth and allowing manufacturers to make better data-driven decisions.”  – Manny Bonilla, VP of Product Strategy

We listened to our customers’ changing data analytics requirements and recently launched our own manufacturing analytics software. Provided as part of our Shoplogix IIoT Smart Factory Platform, this new functionality provides all the capabilities that third-party analytics tools offer, without any setup required. Benefits include:

  • Interactive dashboards for a complete understanding of your production operations to improve.
  • Ability to check the health of all your plants in under 15-minutes.
  • Smarter analytics and team sharing capabilities enabling a connected factory.



2020 has been a wake-up call for many manufacturers to develop better systems and processes to navigate disruptions. Think about the beginning of the pandemic. What were the major offenders that disrupted your operations? For many, it was labor shortages, changes to demand, but at the core of this disruption was a lack of visibility into operations.

Production visibility will be one of the most critical capabilities for manufacturers.

How do you gain an end-to-end, seamless picture of daily production activities? Increases in production visibility are enabled through sophisticated digital technologies such as smart factory technology.



As you look ahead to the future to plan your resiliency strategy, automation of real-time data collection fueling the visualization of production is a must to understand activities enterprise-wide. With smart factory software, manufacturers can:

  • Track top losses by the hour to identify bottlenecks, delays, and microstoppages. For example, during this time, social distancing and newly added safety requirements are to be implemented on shop floors (understandably). This means taking extra time and effort to disinfect machines and wash hands which can add to changeover times, OEE, downtimes that need to be taken into account.
  • Stay ahead of preventative maintenance by analyzing labor and scheduling data to identify ideal times to conduct maintenance work on machines without disrupting or slowing down production.
  • Automated Alerts – Set up automated alerts when components are close to empty to help make smarter replenishment decisions based on expected job or work order completion time to avoid line starvation. 
  • ERP and MES integration – true smart factory software can be integrated with other systems such as ERPs and MES, for bidirectional information exchange that can be accessed remotely if needed. Inventory information such as available materials and work orders can help make smart decisions on the amount of achievable output or capacity for a given timeframe.


REMOTE ACCESS to shoplogix

One of the most impactful changes in 2021 was a shift to remote work across many industries. Around the world, manufacturers were under pressure to establish remote teams (seemingly overnight). 

Many are still navigating the complexities of this shift. There are numerous hurdles such as device challenges, communication bottlenecks, and collaboration pitfalls.

The ability to access production data remotely and create work action plans from anywhere and anytime will bridge the gap between shop floor employees and remote teams.

Shoplogix Action Plan module allows workers to create action plans, update statuses of tasks and add comments and notes virtually. These action plans can be shared and reviewed in a team setting over the phone or virtually.


Shoplogix labor

This year, we also saw a significant impact on how manufacturers responded to resource planning. With the fluctuations of available labor, many struggled to secure the right headcount to meet capacity changes while others overscheduled.

The use of IIoT technology will enable processes to be streamlined through automation. Manufacturers are also turning to agile power applications which can be layered on top of existing systems.

For example, Shoplogix labor tracking module can be integrated with existing ERP to track Job Expectations,  track direct labor rate variances per machine and per product. Bidirectional communication of data allows real-time updates to ERP on Actual Labor Utilization to make smart decisions on scheduling.

COVID-19 has changed the world — and the manufacturing industry — as we know it. Manufacturers who will survive and thrive in this new environment must fully embrace IIoT powered smart factory adoption — and the sooner, the better.

To jumpstart your digitization strategy utilizing the above manufacturing trends, contact a Shoplogix Smart Factory Expert today! 

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