Manufacturing in the 21st century has been characterized as a complex and dynamic sociotechnical system (ManuFUTURE, 2019). The industry is currently being challenged by accelerated technological change, pressures, and regulations regarding reduction of its environmental footprint, novel knowledge demands, a turbulent economic landscape, and a pandemic creating a demanding and unforeseen context.
For manufacturers to make sense of ongoing changes and how to position themselves within this changing landscape, it is useful to start with developing a knowledge basis on the most pertinent trends. This is the departure for this white paper, which aims to provide an overview of some of the key technological, environmental, social, and economic trends that are both challenging and providing opportunities for the Norwegian manufacturing industry.
Note that the paper does not provide an exhaustive analysis and discussion of the different trends. Rather, based on a review of existing reports and academic literature and experience from contemporary research on the development of the Norwegian manufacturing industry, we have identified a selection of trends. In section 2, we present and briefly reflect on these trends individually.
The trends are presented in the following sequence:
- Environmental trends
- Technological Trends
- Social Trends
- Economical Trends
In section 3 we briefly discuss the interconnections between the trends and how recent challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic influence them, before providing some final remarks.