5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch For in 2024

Posted By:  Sperry & Rice
Tuesday February 13, 2024

Manufacturing is always evolving because manufacturers are constantly pushing the limits of technology, refining their processes, identifying new efficiencies, improving productivity, and solving challenges. 

In the wake of a global pandemic that stressed global supply chains, decreased productivity, created workforce upheaval, and saw materials costs rise dramatically, manufacturers are embracing new ways of doing business. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in manufacturing so in this blog post, we’d like to cover five manufacturing trends to watch for in 2024 (and beyond) and a few ways to work with the trends to ensure continued success for your business.


Talent upskilling and retention.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts an average of 933,000 manufacturing job openings each year until 2032. Deloitte predicts 2,100,000 unfilled U.S. manufacturing jobs by 2030. Regardless of which number is correct, manufacturers continue to face a labor gap. 

To help, manufacturers will continue to invest in robotics and automation which will require training for both the existing workforce and those joining it. Many businesses will collaborate with local vocational training centers and school systems to recruit and train new workers.

Manufacturing continues to fight a labor shortage so the industry will be focusing heavily on hiring and retaining skilled professionals.

Manage Your Talent and Training

Your employees aren’t just a ‘human resource’ to be mined and exploited, they’re part of your success, the reason you can get things done for your customers, and an essential aspect of your brand. Keep them current in their skills, and keep current with your technology, and they’ll be loyal and stay, and your company won’t be faced with a labor shortage.


New (and Newer) Technology.

Technology will play a large role in helping manufacturing ease the labor shortage. Smart manufacturers will continue to embrace technology to not only make their operations more efficient, but to attract younger employees raised on tech and passionate about it. 

Emerging technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), machine learning, and digital twins will not only help manufacturers in their digital transformation journey – it will redefine how humans work. These technologies enable remote monitoring, operation, and maintenance, so manufacturing workers of the future might not even need to be onsite.

Stay Ahead or Fall Behind

Technology is always changing and if you don’t keep up, you’ll lag your competition. That means you won’t be able to attract candidates looking to work for a technology leader, and your processes and productivity will also fall behind, causing you to lose business and any competitive advantages you might have once enjoyed.


A Focus on Sustainability.

Sustainability will remain a popular topic with consumers, businesses, and governments all interested in finding more sustainable processes that decrease our dependence on natural resources and build toward a greener future. But it’s not just a feel-good movement; as ESG (environmental, social, and governance) sustainability requirements for government and institutional contracts become more prevalent, manufacturers will have to adapt their processes and supply chains to be more sustainable – and be able to prove it in order to secure and keep those contracts.

Be Green to Stay in the Black

Being sustainable requires organizational commitment but by doing things like using eco-friendly materials, implementing an e-waste management program, controlling emissions and waste byproducts, and adhering to all applicable regulatory policies and guidelines, you can reduce your environmental impact and become a more sustainable organization. 


Supply Chain Transparency.

Closely related to sustainability and ESG is having a transparent supply chain. The European Union (EU) is considering regulations that would make large companies responsible for the actions of all partners in its supply chain, including direct and indirect suppliers, to ensure compliance with human rights standards and environmental protection laws. Any business that conducts operations in the EU will need to comply, and be able to prove compliance, and regulations that begin in Europe typically make their way to North America eventually, so even completely domestic companies should be aware that this requirement may impact them sooner than later.

Prepare Now and Be Ready

Supply chain transparency and ESG requirements are coming. When is unknown, but if you start preparing today, you’ll be prepared when they do become a reality.

Doing Business Closer to Home.

Reshoring isn’t just a dream, it’s a necessity. The pandemic caused global headaches and showed just how fragile the supply chain is, and improving supply chain resiliency and flexibility are important strategic actions manufacturers are pursuing. This includes the importance of local suppliers, and in 2024, we’ll see reshoring become an option for many businesses and a more common business strategy to minimize supply chain disruptions, which are still impossible to predict.

Do Business Where You Live (Or Closer Anyway)

Manufacturing has seen the cost advantage of sourcing components from overseas disappear because of sky-high shipping costs and supply chain disruptions. Rethink your procurement tactics and focus on local sourcing.

What does 2024 hold for manufacturers? It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen, but we’re confident that these 5 trends will impact manufacturing this year and in the coming years so being prepared will help your business stay ahead of the curve. 

Whatever happens this year, Sperry & Rice will do everything it takes to ensure your project gets from concept to completion, and that it meets your exact standards and needs. And that’s not a prediction – it’s a guarantee.

For more information on what’s happening in the rubber manufacturing industry, make sure you follow Sperry & Rice on LinkedIn.

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