Dec 9, 2020

2021 five predictions for the manufacturing industry

Georgia Wilson
3 min
2021 trends
Manufacturing Global gains insight on the five predictions for the manufacturing industry outlined by Amar Hanspal, CEO at Bright Machines...

While 60% of manufacturers are experience disruptions to their operations due to COVID-19, Amar Hanspal, CEO at Bright Machines comments that “economic uncertainty aside, the unprecedented supply chain disruptions of the year are a blessing in disguise for manufacturers, as they encouraged the often stagnant industry to move faster and become more resilient than ever before. If there were a year to push the industry forward towards progress, this was it.”

Five ways Hanspal sees the industry evolving in 2021 include:

A shift to localised production - Hanspal expects to see the manufacturing industry take notes from the ‘farm to table’ consumer driven trend in the agriculture industry that has emerged over the last decade, with a shift to local production.

“This will primarily be driven by the threat of ongoing trade war/tariffs threatening global supply chains, encouraging manufacturers to move production activity closer to the customer. In the future, manufacturers will want to build where they sell for several reasons, including faster time to market, lower working capital, government policies, and increased resiliency.”

Accelerated digital transformation - With the pandemic reminding manufacturers of the fragility of replying on labour, access to physical space, and centralised factories around the world, Hanspal highlights the importance of advanced technology.

Technology such as sensors, machine learning, computer vision, robotics, cloud computing, edge computing, and 5G network infrastructure, have “proven to increase supply chain resiliency for manufacturers who adopt it. While manufacturing lines present a unique set of challenges, tech companies will continue to focus on bringing the value of these advancements to verticalized settings as the industry realises they must diversify their factory operations and embrace Industry 4.0 technology to become more resilient.”

High expectations from consumers and customers - “According to eMarketer, American consumers will spend approximately $710 billion on e-commerce in 2020, translating into an increase of 18% for the year. With demand for products surging, manufacturers will be more pressured to churn out high-quality products quicker, more efficiently, and at a lower cost than ever before,” notes Hanspal. Who believes that in addition to shopping behaviours, the industry will see a shift in relationship between manufacturers and customers. 

“customer service has leaped forward this year, with companies prioritising personalised experiences, radical transparency, and rapid response. Customers have become accustomed to this type of service and will demand the same experience from their manufacturing partners,” added Hanspal.

Increased investment in the workforce - “Despite the doomsday headlines of years past, it's clear by now that automation is not just replacing existing work but creating new work,” stated Hanspal, who expects to see manufacturers “take on more accountability in this shift - creating better, higher-paying jobs for factory workers,” as well as committing to empowering workers by providing access to retraining, STEAM education, vocation/trade skills and Makerspaces.

Sustainability - Finally Hanspal sees sustainability becoming a core selling point, not an afterthought. “Manufacturing has long been one of the most significant contributors to environmental pollution. With a new administration that prioritizes science and the environment, expect that efforts to make manufacturing more sustainable through more efficient factories will focus on creating green jobs and cutting back on the industry's high volume of waste.”

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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