In the long wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations in asset-heavy industries are continuing to evaluate the short-term solutions they put together to “get through” lockdown while working to establish their long-term strategies and technological stack. In this context, certain things are a given – like the fact that digital transformation is a “have-to-have” and that technological agility is more important than ever.  

That said, there are still many lingering questions, like which “COVID necessities” have become long-term shifts in operations and philosophy and where should organizations focus their energies moving forward?

Here are all the workforce, industry and document management trends to keep top of mind as you answer these and other pressing industry questions.  


Top Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2021 and Beyond  

When looking at the most important trends and best practices, it’s helpful to separate them into three buckets: workforce, industry and document management.  

Manufacturing Workforce Trends to Look Out For in 2021  

There are a few trends that have been brewing in the manufacturing workforce for several years. For one, there is a growing skills gap as over 2.6 million skilled workers – most of whom are Baby Boomers – age out of the workforce and 81% of UK manufacturers struggle to replace them. This will only become more prominent in years to come, and organizations will have to face this skills gap head-on and:  

  • Focus on recruiting highly skilled talent, including workers with automation skills, critical thinking skills and experience working with the latest technology.  
  • Adopt AI to execute low-level, repetitive tasks.  
  • Deploy effective knowledge management to make both structured and unstructured data easily accessible and readily available.  
  • Use technology and modernization to attract top talent, most of whom are uninterested in the manufacturing industry as it exists today.  

Here, it’s important to emphasize that technology will not replace the manufacturing workforce in the coming years. Instead, occupations will shift as technology takes over easily automated tasks, while employees take on more advanced, skilled roles.  

Manufacturing Industry Trends to Look Out For in 2021

Looking more broadly at the manufacturing and asset management industry, expect to see an increased focus in:  

  • Predictive maintenance: The idea of predictive maintenance is nothing new – and many organizations have been working toward creating a more predictive manufacturing environment for several years. That said, current technology -- like equipment readers, comprehensive historical data and smart manufacturing tools powered by AI – have made predictive efforts more attainable than ever. The key here, though, will be to focus efforts and budget on your most important assets or manufacturing tasks.  
  • Green manufacturing efforts: In recent years, lean manufacturing strategies and improvements driven by AI and the IIoT have made green manufacturing efforts more attainable – and expectations have risen in turn. If you’re not already going green, you will likely have to be soon.  
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): If there is one thing that was made painfully obvious for many businesses during the pandemic, it’s that they were woefully behind when it came to IoT developments like remote monitoring and control of devices and systems. To prevent this kind of issue from arising in the future, remote communications and IoT technologies were deployed much more effectively throughout 2020 – and this will continue to increase in 2021 and beyond.

Document Management Trends to Look Out For in 2021 and Beyond  

With mobile operations, cloud technology, AI and digital transformation, manufacturing organizations today have more data coming in than ever before. Those that capitalize on this data and utilize it to make informed decisions and drive revenue will find themselves at the head of the pack.  

This will call for:  

  • A move toward cloud-based document management  
  • Well-connected document management systems  
  • Increased emphasis on sound document management security
  • Scalable and customizable document management solutions  


The Right Engineering Document Management System Can Help  

A robust engineering document management system (EDMS) like Meridian can help your organization stay on track with these trends and best practices. More specifically, by providing a single source of truth for engineering documents, facilitating concurrent engineering, offering SaaS deployment options, and allowing for easy access to documents on mobile devices, Meridian can facilitate:  

  • Increased agility
  • Improved health and safety
  • Predictive maintenance strategies  
  • Cloud operations  
  • Scalability, and more.  

For more information about the trends and best practices – as well as actionable insight on what you can do to improve your operations today – check out our eBook Asset Management Trends for 2021.