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2020 has been a year full of challenges, and as 2021 approaches, many people can’t help but be grateful that 2020 will soon be over. However, a change in date doesn’t mean the problems of 2020 will just magically disappear. By 2021, many businesses will need to rebuild and regain their footing in a shaky industry, on top of preparing for a drastically different business landscape. Being aware of the challenges you may potentially face helps you prepare for them, so read on for a summary of what lies ahead for manufacturing.

The race to be more resilient

It was believed that the only valuable qualities of a manufacturer are to be fast, cheap, and productive. However, the events of 2020 only proved that it is important for manufacturers to be resilient, agile, and smart in the face of whatever disruptions come their way. The pandemic has made businesses painfully aware of how fragile supply chains are, and in the future, they won’t partner up with manufacturers who aren’t adequately prepared for potential crises down the line.

While many companies already practice risk management, they are limited to known, specific risks. To be resilient is to have the capacity to deal with unprecedented, unidentified risks and be prepared with plans to minimize damage and even turn the current situation to an advantage.

In the future, work more closely with your suppliers. Keep a tighter supply chain to minimize the impact of any unfortunate events. If your plant heavily utilizes hydraulic machinery, secure a trustworthy supplier of hydraulic power packs in case of emergencies.

Keeping employees motivated

Due to the advent of automation and artificial intelligence, most manufacturing plants have swapped out a fair chunk of their workforce for robots. However, this shift resulted in a generation of employees who are unmotivated and jaded, convinced that it will only be a matter of time before they too are replaced with machines. The events of 2020 only worsened general public mental health, so for 2021, manufacturing companies should find ways to reinvigorate employee motivation, optimism, and loyalty. Consider salary raises, interstate or overseas training programs for exceptional employees, profit sharing, employee referral programs, and improved benefits.

Increased demand for transparency

More and more, consumers are demanding to know more about the manufacturing process behind the products they use. An increasing shift towards green and ethical consumerism means consumers are increasingly concerned about supporting businesses and products that go against their personal advocacies. Manufacturers will continuously face demands for transparency regarding animal testing, labor compensation, ingredient sources, sustainability efforts, waste management, and so on. Consider adopting cruelty-free, sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly methods and business practices to create a positive brand image and build consumer trust.

Looking ahead

The same way the pandemic took us completely by surprise, 2021 may bring with it its own share of unprecedented tribulations. The challenge for all businesses is to use 2020 as a lesson in crisis management, adapt to the new normal, and practice resilience in the face of uncertainty.

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