Manufacturing in 2024: 6 Key Trends to Watch

In a rapidly evolving landscape driven by technological advancements and shifting global dynamics, the manufacturing industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Following the setbacks caused by the global pandemic, the sector is poised for a positive trajectory, with an anticipated annual growth rate of 3.57% between now and 2028. As manufacturers strive to recover and build resilience against global economic challenges, this article explores the top six trends that will shape the manufacturing in 2024. We’ll delve into strategies to address these trends and seize the opportunities they present.


1. Revolutionizing Operations: The Rise of Smart Factories

Smart factories are ushering in a new era of manufacturing in 2024. These highly advanced and automated facilities leverage technology to enhance efficiency, precision, and flexibility. Comparing a traditional factory to a smart factory is akin to comparing a basic phone to a smartphone – the latter can do more tasks, and it excels in doing them.

This concept is closely tied to “Industry 4.0,” marking the fourth industrial revolution. Previous revolutions saw mechanization, mass production, and automation. The fourth revolution is all about digitalization through smart and autonomous systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges exposed the vulnerabilities of traditional supply chain and manufacturing systems, underlining the need for greater agility. The global smart factory market is projected to reach $321.98 billion USD by 2032, growing at a remarkable CAGR of 9.52% from 2023 to 2032.

Investing in digital transformation and smart factory technology offers substantial benefits, including:

– Enhanced Product Quality

Automated processes and AI-powered quality control lead to significant improvements in product quality. Machines exhibit fewer errors compared to human operators, ensuring consistent performance and uniform product quality. Machine learning can detect defects or faults in advance, preventing critical issues.

– Improved Efficiency

Smart factories optimize production lines through automation, machine learning, and AI, reducing downtime, minimizing waste, and enhancing operational efficiency. Real-time data analysis identifies bottlenecks and inefficiencies for swift resolution.


Smart factories contribute to sustainability goals by optimizing energy and resource usage, reducing environmental impact. Predictive maintenance keeps machinery operating at peak efficiency, further conserving energy.

2. Driving Efficiency with AI, Machine Learning, and Advanced Analytics

In the five years leading up to 2021, investment in AI for manufacturing increased eightfold, and advanced IT, including cloud computing and analytics, tripled. By 2021, 76% of top-tier manufacturing businesses had embraced AI-based solutions, with particularly high adoption rates in Europe.

AI is applied across various aspects of manufacturing, from quality inspection to supply chain management, production line checks, and inventory management. The potential value created by AI is estimated to be close to $13 trillion, according to a 2021 Harvard Business Review report.

Machine learning and advanced analytics, which go beyond traditional business intelligence, enjoy even higher adoption rates. Two-thirds of manufacturing companies attribute significant revenue savings or generation to these technologies. The manufacturing analytics market is projected to reach $28.4 billion by 2026, a significant increase from its 2021 value of $8.45 billion.

3. Enhancing Decision-Making with Predictive Maintenance and Digital Twins

Downtime due to inefficient maintenance can incur substantial costs for manufacturers. Predictive maintenance uses data analysis tools and techniques to anticipate potential equipment and process defects, enabling proactive resolution. This approach results in a 40% reduction in maintenance costs, a 70% decrease in downtime, and a 25-30% increase in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

The Predictive Maintenance Market is expected to grow to $15.9 billion USD by 2026, with a CAGR of 30.6%. The growth of AI, IoT, and Big Data has given rise to “digital twins,” which offer real-time insights for better decision-making. The digital twin market is projected to reach $73.5 billion by 2027.

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4. Cybersecurity Challenges in Manufacturing

Manufacturing emerged as the industry most targeted by cyberattacks in 2021, surpassing financial institutions for the first time in five years. Cybersecurity risks are a top concern for manufacturers, with 49% listing them as a major challenge for the coming years.

The industry’s low tolerance for downtime makes manufacturers attractive targets for cybercriminals, and attacks can target software, firmware, or hardware. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly prevalent, with 23% of attacks against the sector in 2021 taking the form of ransomware.

The response to these threats led to the establishment of the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) in 2020, a $111-million public-private partnership headquartered at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The institute aims to train 1 million manufacturing workers in cybersecurity preparedness by 2026.

5. Adapting to Labour Challenges

In 2023, manufacturers confront a tight labour market and high turnover rates, compounding the challenges associated with shifting talent models. Approximately 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could remain unfilled by 2030, potentially costing $1 trillion in 2030 alone, according to a report by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.

To address these workforce challenges, manufacturers are adopting several strategies:

– Increased Wages

Manufacturers are considering wage hikes to attract and retain skilled workers. In 2022, nearly three-quarters of manufacturers reported plans to increase pay by 3%.

– Reskilling and Upskilling

The growing adoption of digital technologies necessitates advanced technical and digital skills among the workforce. Reskilling initiatives are becoming a priority, including continuous training programs, partnerships with startups, and collaboration with academic institutions.

6. The Mainstream Rise of Additive Manufacturing in 2024

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is no longer an experimental technology; it has become a cost-effective method used for various applications. Manufacturers use 3D printing to produce parts in-house, circumventing supply chain delays and saving time and money.

The metal 3D printing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.5% through 2028, reaching a total value of $11.6 billion. Some companies are now printing tool making steel, which cuts down tooling time and reduces costs compared to conventional toolmaking.

Customized products, such as bike helmets and prosthetics, are also benefiting from 3D printing, offering cost-effective and tailored solutions.



In conclusion, the convergence of IIOT, advanced analytics, and automation is paving the way for trends like predictive maintenance, digital twins, and intelligent automation in the manufacturing in 2024. These trends are poised to shape the smart factory megatrend, and in the face of supply chain challenges and evolving production models, the industry continues to adapt and thrive.


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