Posted April 14, 2021

Global Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2021 and Beyond

Technology concept for global manufacturing industry trends in 2021

The events of 2020 shifted how manufacturers do business. Due to problems imposed by the pandemic, manufacturers came up with creative solutions to keep businesses thriving. Combined with the CNC machining industry’s natural evolution, these enhancements have spotlighted some global manufacturing industry trends. This article will closely examine some of the problems that machine shops have faced and three resulting trends.

2020: How it Affected Manufacturing

Consumer’s purchasing habits changed dramatically during 2020 due to the stay-at-home orders imposed on most communities. This isolation directly affected manufacturing. For instance, new car sales fell because people were not traveling, forcing the automotive industry to scale back production. Simultaneously, the need for consumer electronics rose as people worked and studied from home. The semiconductor industry’s response to this was to shift the production of automotive control systems components to parts for computers, cell phones, and entertainment systems.

Changes like these rippled throughout all industries, and existing supply chains made changes to keep up. However, the supply chains were also dealing with several other problems, including:

  • Idle factories: Many factories produced less than average, and some even permanently closed during the pandemic. Labor shortages, social distancing requirements, local shutdown orders, and a lack of raw materials caused these closures.
  • Closed borders: Due to the pandemic, some areas or countries were closed for entry, included shipping lines. These closed borders stopped the supply of raw materials from getting in and the shipment of completed products out.
  • Shipping disruptions: The pandemic disrupted regular shipping venues. For instance, as flights were canceled or re-routed, much of the smaller freight typically shipped by air became grounded.
  • Congested destinations: Seaports already booked to capacity began to experience more significant problems due to the pandemic. With interstate trucking and other venues affected, container ships couldn’t find anywhere to unload their cargo, leaving them anchored offshore for days.

Supply chain difficulties were just one problem facing manufacturers like CNC machine shops. The pandemic affected their entire manufacturing process, including implementing social distancing measures and instituting mask and cleaning protocols. These new measures required many manufacturers to adjust production schedules and implement multi-shift changes to keep workers isolated.

To rise above these problems and stay profitable, CNC machine shops looked at newer manufacturing trends to project them forward.

Global Manufacturing Industry Trends for CNC Machining in the Years to Come

2020 was a year of difficulties, and CNC machine shops seek new industry trends for success. Some of the top trends include the following:

Reshoring Manufacturing

While offshore manufacturing was the most cost-effective business model for a long time, it also causes longer design cycles and slows new product introduction. However, with the unprecedented changes to the supply line, many industries now see the benefit of reinstating manufacturing with onshore machine shops. Not only does this help resolve several supply chain issues, but it also shortens design cycles and new product introductions. OEMs find that onshoring their part manufacturing satisfies several key metrics, including cost, quality, performance, and sustainability, thus rapidly becoming the better choice.

Increasing Automation in Manufacturing

Local machine shops presently invest more in automation and equipment enhancements to remain competitive with offshore manufacturing. Many traditionally labor-intensive operations have shifted to full or partial automation, reducing overhead costs and increasing production with fewer errors. Additionally, machining equipment capabilities constantly update with new enhancements and functionality. These updates include cutting tools with longer usable lives and machine learning software designed to improve performance based on a saved history of previous work. These advancements in automation help manufacturing processes and increase the efficiency of inventory management.

Just in Time Inventory Management

With the move to using local manufacturing instead of offshore production, CNC machine shops also updated their inventory management to “Just in Time” systems to keep pace. JIT delivery reduces balance sheet liabilities by eliminating the need for surplus stock, and warehousing costs of the additional inventory. Ensuring that the necessary materials for production are available when needed requires a well-run JIT factory management system. The president of AMT, Douglas K. Woods, claims, “This pandemic did not create the supply-chain problems people are experiencing. It’s just exposing them.” This “exposure” may require changes to existing supply chains to get materials supplied locally and investing in smart factory technology to compete with offshore suppliers. 

Local machine shops stay agile with those three manufacturing trends to prepare for growth during 2021 and beyond.

CNC Machining that is Ready for 2021 and Beyond

Local machine shops field more requests for work every day as manufacturing migrates back to onshore production. To supply this demand, shops enhance their capabilities with updated equipment and tools and improve inventory management. New programming software for CNC machining designed to learn from previous projects is also a significant part of these enhancements. Additionally, inter-factory software that immediately begins the purchasing process based on a customer’s online order helps streamline the just-in-time inventory management system.

At Plethora, we understand global manufacturing industry trends and what you need from a machine shop partner. To that end, we have designed our business to give you the best service possible. From our online ordering system to the different CNC mills and lathes that will custom build your part, we have the advanced capabilities you need. We are ISO 9001 certified, and our primary goal is to manufacture your parts to the highest level of quality possible. Our online DFM and quoting systems are ready to receive your data so we can begin working with you on your next project. To get started, upload your design files to Quote My Part or call us at 415-726-2256.

Quote My Part


The Plethora Team

The Plethora team is your go-to CNC manufacturer for hardware done right the first time. We have the tools and experience needed to create high quality custom parts quickly and with precision, whether you need a prototype or production run.

Topics: Design, Manufacturing, finishing, CNC machining, Quality, manufacturing trends