5 Manufacturing Trends to Look For in 2022

2021 was a year of change for many industries, manufacturing included. From supply chain issues to inflation and, yes, the threat of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing organizations weathered a tough year and certainly hope that 2022 offers some relief.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what this year may bring, there are a few manufacturing trends we can expect to see. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that solutions to complex problems are constantly evolving, and sometimes take a long time. The important thing to remember is that there is light at the end of the tunnel—these trends won’t just change the manufacturing industry throughout 2022 and beyond, they’ll improve it.

Let’s examine five manufacturing trends to expect in 2022: working through supply chain issues, retaining employees, increased automation, a focus on sustainability, and keeping staff onshore.

#1: Continued Focus on Communication Through Supply Chain Bottlenecks

Supply chain bottlenecks are expected to last well into 2022 thanks to a shortage of materials and the high costs of energy. For manufacturers, this causes distribution delays both domestically and internationally. But customer expectations remain the same, so expect some continued headaches as the year goes on.

While some supply chain issues and bottlenecks are out of your control, there are some things you can do to try and make things better. Namely, keeping effective communication strategies in place to mitigate the effects of supply chain issues. That means the issue is not on your end, but the suppliers. Use technology to keep everyone in your facility on the same page so that there are no missed connections or dropped balls. It’s simply the best way to ensure that your facility is doing everything in its power to keep things humming along smoothly, even in the face of supply chain bottlenecks.

#2: Emphasis on Retention Efforts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the industry will have dropped more than half a million manufacturing jobs between 2012 and the end of 2022. Even with those losses, most manufacturing companies are ramping up production, especially as the pandemic eases. What does that mean for the average manufacturer? Retention will be the name of the game.

Retaining the quality employees you do have is paramount. Building on a strong backbone of solid employees, you’ll be able to maintain production and distribution while hiring on extra staff as needed.

How exactly do you retain that top talent? Make your manufacturing plant a great place to work, and offer employees opportunities they won’t have elsewhere. In other words, improve your culture and bridge the skills gap.

Improving Workplace Culture

What reasons do your employees have to stay with your company versus finding a better role with your competition? Is it pay? Benefits? Perks, like bonuses or an on-site gym? If these things aren’t up to par, you’ll find your operation shedding most of its best employees.

If your culture isn’t inclusive, employees might start to feel that they don’t belong. Ramp up your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) efforts if necessary. Make it clear in company materials that your facility is an equal opportunity workplace and that discrimination or harassment of any kind won’t be tolerated.

Bridge Skills Gap

Bridging the skills gap means empowering employees to gain new skills or use the skills they already have to explore work in other areas. This benefits your manufacturing operation in a multitude of ways. For one, it keeps employees happy because they get to grow their skillsets and become better at what they do (and maybe get a pay raise, too). Secondly, it allows your company to utilize the talent already at your disposal to take care of certain tasks and fill certain roles.

#3: Increased Automation

The third trend we’re expecting in 2022 is for the focus on automation in the manufacturing world to continue. While automation in the world of manufacturing is nothing new, it remains true that companies are investing more dollars than ever before into automated solutions. In the field of agricultural manufacturing, for example, companies are using automated solutions for tasks like harvesting, seeding, and weeding in the face of the labor shortage.

Two other examples of ways automation is impacting the industry? The rise of 3D printing and robotics across manufacturing niches of all sorts.

3D Printing

The great thing about 3D printing is that manufacturers can produce more components faster while using fewer resources. And those components are just as reliable and efficient as ones made through traditional means. All of this upside means one thing: 3D printing improves manufacturing performance on the whole. And because all sorts of components—appliance parts, electronics, engine components, and much more—can be made through 3D printing, it’s safe to say we’ll only see more of it through 2022 and beyond.


Robots have been used in a variety of capacities all around the manufacturing world for some time. As robotics becomes more advanced, expect this trend to continue. And with an increased focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’re likely to see robotics impact the industry in ways we can’t yet predict. In any case, the role of workers in warehouse jobs and other positions in the manufacturing space may shift as companies re-evaluate how to most effectively use their workforces alongside robotics.

#4: Sustainability

It’s estimated that the manufacturing industry accounts for about one-third of global greenhouse emissions. As such, there’s a big burden on the industry when it comes to affecting climate change in a positive way. Through 2022 and beyond, companies will need to push sustainability efforts forward by completely transforming their operations.

The costs of energy and materials continue to rise. Government regulations continue to tighten in an effort to push toward sustainability. And customers and investors are gravitating toward more eco-friendly practices. All of this means that manufacturing companies who get out ahead of the sustainability initiative will do better than their lagging counterparts.

#5: Onshore Staffing

Post-pandemic, and thanks to rising fuel costs, new tax incentives, and global supply shortages, many companies are returning their manufacturing efforts to North America and the U.S. itself in many cases. Companies will need to rely increasingly on countries like Mexico and Canada, who the U.S. has friendly trade agreements with, rather than overseas options like China. This is a good thing for manufacturing jobs in our country—from assemblers and packers to floor managers and other warehouse jobs, expect to see more onshore jobs being filled as 2022 rolls on.

How a Staffing Agency Can Help You Find or Fill Your Next Manufacturing Job

The manufacturing industry has been changing for the past few decades, and 2022 will be no different. Regardless of the trends, we expect manufacturing jobs to need still to be filled as the year progresses.

Are you a manufacturing professional looking for a new opportunity? Partnering with a staffing agency and an expert manufacturing recruiter is a great way to find a job you love. Your recruiter will take the time to get to know you—your background, skill set, and career goals. From there, you’ll work together to find roles that help you succeed and advance your career in the manufacturing space.

Partnering with a manufacturing job recruiter is a benefit to you in more ways than one. In addition to finding a top-paying job, you’re making a connection that can benefit you down the road, especially when you consider that having a recruiter in your corner grows your professional network exponentially. Invest in your future and consider turning to a professional staffing firm when you’re ready for a new role in manufacturing.

Contact Opti Staffing Today

Are you looking for work in manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest region, or in Alaska? Opti Staffing is your choice for manufacturing staffing and recruitment—our expert recruiters will use their extensive connections to find you exclusive jobs with top employers in your area.

We have offices in Lake Oswego and Portland, OR; Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, WA; and Anchorage, AK. Get in touch with us today to learn more about us and what we can do for you. We can’t wait to help you find your next manufacturing job and grow your career.