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Technology Helps Manufacturing Become Safer

New technology is expected to play a larger role in manufacturing success in 2016, with changes in international trade, cybersecurity, and workplace safety also at the top of the list. Some trends are already coming into focus, while others are forecast later in the year and the years ahead.


Going International
World population is expected to rise by 1 billion by the year 2025, with most of the growth in Asia and Africa. This puts higher emphasis on international trade, with opportunities to reach burgeoning new world markets. This also tightens competition between international manufacturing competitors, particularly manufacturing leaders China, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. A study by Deloitte Global and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness predicts an emphasis on innovation, with high-value, advanced manufacturing techniques, will put the U.S. ahead of China in the top spot. As China follows the shift towards advanced manufacturing, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia are expected to fill the low-cost, high-production spot.


Locking Down Cybersecurity
Governments, corporations, private enterprises, and individuals are all focusing on cyber security in the coming year and years. ISACA's 2015 Global Cybersecurity Status Report found that a lack of workers with necessary IT skills contributes to inadequate defenses. In the study, 86% of respondents reported that cyber attacks were among the top three major concerns for their organization. With Congress's recent cybersecurity bill, companies should be able to share threat information more easily and neutralize threats faster, though many companies have raised concerns about privacy protection. Organizations are also taking cybersecurity into their own hands, with a shift towards more secure multi-factor authentication technology, such as with biometrics, and fast growth anticipated in cyber insurance.


Safer Workplaces, Harsher Consequences
A memorandum of understanding between the Department of Justice and OSHA puts higher penalties on willful disregard for employee safety. Crimes resulting in workplace injuries or deaths may now be punished by prison terms up to 25 years, where 6 month sentences for misdemeanor charges previously existed. OSHA will also be revising regulations regarding slip and fall accidents, injury tracking, and eye and face protections, among others. Finally, legislation signed this year provided a deadline for August, 2016 to raise OSHA fines by about 80% to account for inflation, the first time adjustments have been made in 25 years.


2016 and beyond shows a bright future for the manufacturing sector at large. With international prominence, heightened security, safer workplaces, and many other new and unexpected changes ahead, companies can look forward to an exciting and dynamic new year. 

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