Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022 – Drives and Controls Magazine

Goodbye 2021, hello 2022

February 01, 2022

Nikesh Mistry*, Head of Automation at Gambica, looks back on the momentous year that just ended and peers into his crystal ball for 2022 to predict some trends that may emerge.

Writing articles for magazines can be a fascinating task. Magazines are always prepared well in advance, and as of this writing, given the current global situation, I have no idea what conditions will prevail by the time this is published.

This underlines how fast the world is changing and with it, so is the manufacturing industry. 2021 has been yet another difficult year for the industry, with manufacturers facing a host of challenges, both domestically and internationally. Despite the pressure, some champions emerged and helped keep the industry strong.

Industry 4.0 continued to be a key focus, with companies seeing how it has revolutionized the world of manufacturing by providing companies with the ability to use innovative tools to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. There’s no doubt that Industry 4.0 has helped adopters reduce costs, improve operational visibility and speed up production times – along with many other benefits.

For the UK manufacturing sector, 2021 has arguably been a great year. To cite a few examples:

  • Cadbury has announced plans to transfer production of its Dairy Milk bars from Germany and other sites across Europe to the UK;
  • the future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory has been secured with a £100m investment – the site will become Stellantis’ first factory dedicated to the production of electric vehicles for its brands Vauxhall, Opel, Peugeot and Citroën;
  • Nissan has announced plans to build a new electric vehicle at its Sunderland plant and, in partnership with Envision AESC, to open a £450m ‘gigafactory’ as part of a £1bn investment program pounds sterling which will create more than 6,000 British jobs;
  • the Hitachi Rail/Alstom joint venture won a £2bn contract to design, build and maintain HS2’s new train fleet, creating around 2,500 UK jobs; and
  • BAE Systems has announced plans to hire 1,250 apprentices and graduates.

Gambica members have also seen an increase in sales across all industrial automation product groups covered by the association. Thus, despite the pressures of the pandemic and Brexit, the manufacturing industry generally came out of the year well.
What does this mean for the year ahead? There are a few “hot topics” being discussed for this year. Some stem from lessons learned over the past two years. Many companies have invested heavily in the safety of their employees and pay particular attention to well-being and mental health in the workplace.

The technologies companies adopt to improve employee safety can also benefit their other businesses. By implementing IoT and predictive analytics, their operations can be connected and business processes transformed.

The coronavirus pandemic has helped spark interest in IoT technology due to its remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities. IoT-enabled devices make it possible to monitor equipment performance safely from remote locations, and therefore identify potential problems before downtime occurs. They also make it easier to understand problems and develop potential solutions to help employees on site.


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