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Top Trends for Manufacturing in 2021

By Geoffrey Cowling, Managing Partner. 

The manufacturing sector has continued to evolve in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are trends that are expected to continue into 2021:


  1. Automated operations become autonomous: as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more engrained in the manufacturing industry, operations are likely to move from automated to autonomous. AI can improve the reliability and predictability of operations. And while there is no replacement for human intuition, AI can learn from historical and real-time data to make intuitive decisions that can educate workers on what is normal and abnormal in the plant’s operations. This will help alleviate concerns about how knowledge is being passed on from an ageing workforce.
  2. Supply chain management: the COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the global supply chain and the location of key providers and products. The global shortage of computer “chips”, initially due to suppliers being affected by COVID-19 and now not being able to meet an increased demand, has been a public example of this. A well-documented supply chain management process and mitigation strategies (including insurance) is going to be a focus for many in 2021.
  3. A growing reliance on intellectual property: as the manufacturing sector creates more and more sophisticated technological solutions for their customers, it becomes more reliant on generating revenue through unique designs and processes as a differentiator. With the growth in smart technological products for the Internet of Things, allegations of patent infringement and the defense of such allegations is expected to continue to increase.


If you have questions specific to your business, or would like additional information, please reach out to your local insurance and risk management advisor.