The Future of Factory Work in Manufacturing

In this time of uncertainty, manufacturers across the globe are working hard to safeguard their workforce while creating new operation blueprints to adapt to changes in the economy, supply chains, and operations. COVID-19 is challenging the way “things have always been done” in manufacturing with 53.1% of manufacturers anticipating a change in operations according to a recent survey conducted by The National Association of Manufacturers. From supply chains to production processes, this is the time for manufacturers to evaluate their operations and make smart decisions about how they may be better prepared in the future.

One of the primary challenges and key learning that manufacturers need to address is the labor shortage. This is an obvious challenge during this time, but a deeply debilitating one that has existed long before the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to grow after. The skills gap caused by Baby Boomer retirements and a “massive perception problem” about manufacturing jobs among Millennials and younger generations are key reasons for a large number of vacant positions. Deloitte estimates that by 2028, the skills gap in the US will result in 2.4 million unfilled seats out of a total of 16 million manufacturing jobs.

So should you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latest robot technology to mitigate this risk for your operations during this time? Not exactly. While many manufacturers are seeking Industrial IoT solutions to increase automation and adapt to a smaller workforce, operations across most industries such as Automotive, Food & Beverage, Consumer Packaged Goods, Steel Services, and Industrial Packaging will still rely heavily on people power to work alongside new technology implementation for the foreseeable future. 


In the near future, millennials will become the biggest workforce available for manufacturers as the Baby Boomers generation of workers retire. However, Millennials rank manufacturing as their least favorite career path with a whopping 61% viewing it as dirty and dangerous. 

Investing in IIoT technology to advance digital transformation is investing in your future workforce. Having an ecosystem of complex and sophisticated new tools, such as a Smart Factory IIoT Platform with advanced analytics is key to attracting and sustaining younger workers who are looking for more than a job and want to build their careers and advance their skills in the industry. 

Additionally, it is important to offer continuous improvement and education to decrease the turnover of millennial workers. Offering training sessions and workshops to build their skillset and keep them up-to-date on the latest best practices of the industry is key to talent attraction and retention.


During this time, every company should begin the next stage in its journey by clearly defining the rate of productivity increase the operation will require to overcome any losses accrued. Digitizing operations with smart manufacturing technology such as Smart Factory platforms is key to gaining analytics and insights from data collected to improve operational processes. 

Manufacturers that will survive long term are the ones who have invested in technology to improve flexibility and agility to adapt to any unplanned events. In these situations, whether it is a pandemic, inclement weather or simply traveling for work, it’s important to have the right technology in place to provide continued access of production data to executives and management to keep operations running smoothly. 

The advantage of having technology such as cloud-based smart factory IIoT platforms is that it makes it possible to do so. As many leading platforms are browser-based, real-time machine data such as OEE, downtime, maintenance, utility usage, production costs, can be accessed on any device and from anywhere enabling executives with the insights to drive decisions on production operations.

A smart factory system can also:

  • Send real-time alerts to devices to notify any abnormalities such as the machine temperature exceeding a set threshold.
  • Remotely access key reports to analyze machine states and track real-time production.
  • Visualize data on any device with dashboards to reveal trends and provide insight into opportunities to improve machine performance and process inefficiencies.

Investing in technology such as smart factory IIoT platforms will not only increase automation but will provide the means to remotely access data and analytics of plant operations from any location, empowering executives with the insights of plant operation continuity and mitigate any potential disruptions.  IIoT smart factory platforms have become the cornerstone of manufacturing digital transformation of today and the factory of the future.

How are you investing in the future of your factory? 

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