Technological advancements in the manufacturing sector play a vital role in the growth of the world economy. Emerging manufacturing trends include innovations that improve the productivity and sustainability of entire production processes. The major trends in the manufacturing industry include industrial automation, smart factories, additive manufacturing, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI). However, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing companies are looking to maintain productivity with reduced manpower. Hence, startups and scaleups are developing smart sensors, immersive technology gadgets, and wearables that eliminate the need for the physical presence of workers. Simultaneously, companies are shifting to sustainable materials and green energy sources to reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing facilities and the final products.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 10 Manufacturing Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top Manufacturing Industry Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 7 978 global startups and scaleups. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups in the manufacturing industry. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 2 500 000+ startups & scaleups globally. The platform quickly delivers an exhaustive overview of emerging technologies within a specific field as well as identifies relevant startups & scaleups early on.
In the Innovation Map below, you get an overview of the Top 10 Manufacturing Trends & Innovations that impact industrial companies worldwide. Moreover, the Manufacturing Innovation Map reveals 20 hand-picked startups, all working on emerging technologies that advance their field. To explore custom insights, simply get in touch with us.
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 10 Manufacturing Trends
Based on the Manufacturing Innovation Map, the treemap below illustrates the impact of the 10 Manufacturing Trends in 2023. Although the COVID-19 pandemic made progress in manufacturing economies sluggish, the establishment of a new normal boosted the demand for finished products around the world. The current situation makes manufacturing companies invest time and money into technological innovations that reduce resource wastage and machine downtime. Startups and scaleups tackle these challenges predominantly through solutions that implement industrial automation and AI-based decision-making systems. In addition, the application of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and immersive technologies enable remote monitoring and maintenance of industrial assets. Additive manufacturing is also gaining a foothold in the manufacturing ecosystem, transforming it from a prototyping method to a decentralized mass production tool.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 7 978 Manufacturing Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 7 978 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals that the USA is one of the big hubs for manufacturing technology while we also observe increasing activity across Europe and India.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 7 978 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 20 startups were hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 Manufacturing Trends in 2023
1. Industrial Automation
Since the first industrial revolution, all process and equipment improvements aim to implement and improve manufacturing with automation. The reduction of human involvement in repetitive and hazardous tasks makes the production line safer and generates significant cost-saving for factories. But the capital and complexity of such automated equipment increase exponentially with the level of factory automation. However, recent innovations in control systems and robotics make its implementation easy and more cost-effective. This makes robotic automation the most important technology among all the manufacturing trends. Industrial automation simplifies a wide variety of processes in the production line including material handling, assembly, painting, and other machining and finishing processes.
E1ectr0n develops Collaborative Assembly Robots
e1ectr0n is a US-based robotic automation startup that develops a robotic arm for low-volume manufacturing. pr0t0n is the startup’s 6-axis robotic arm that is capable of carrying out repetitive assembly tasks. The robot supports two training methods – precision movements using a game controller and specific tasks through keyboard coding. During training, the operator moves pr0t0n through the assembly process using one of the training methods and records the steps. Then, pr0t0n repeats each step in the process. The system also offers the provision to add or delete steps as needed. pr0t0n is suitable for automated dispensing and screwdriver operations, aiding production lines to amplify the efforts of trained assemblers.
Gideon Brothers automates Shop Floor Logistics
Gideon Brothers is a Croatian startup that provides scalable and easy-to-use intelligent material handling solutions to automate complex industrial workflow. The startup integrates its proprietary AI- and 3D vision-based module into its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The vision module enables Gideon Brothers’ AMRs to see, understand, localize, and navigate across indoor or outdoor environments. The cameras and built-in sensors also provide data to the localization system that creates dense 3D environmental models and updates them in real-time. This allows AMRs to operate safely alongside workers and equipment by adjusting to their movements and changing working conditions. The advanced visual perception system automates material transport, lifting and feeding, and other collaborative movements on the production line.
2. Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing provides an efficient and quick method for converting a concept into the final product. Computer-aided designing (CAD) has taken away the limitations in product design and additive manufacturing breaks the barriers of materializing unconventional designs. This enables intricate designs which otherwise incur a large production cost with standard manufacturing techniques. But the current methods of additive manufacturing do not support mass production. To tackle this, innovations in 3D printing reduce the cost of transition from traditional manufacturing processes. The implementation of this manufacturing trend also paves the way for mass customization, localized and distributed manufacturing, and on-demand production.
Xact Metal scales Affordable Metal 3D Printing
Xact Metal is a US-based startup providing 3D metal printing solutions. The startup utilizes laser-based metal powder-bed fusion technology by selectively fusing thin layers of metal powder to create parts directly from 3D CAD models. The high-speed digital galvanometer system in the printers brings faster printing speeds to metal additive manufacturing. Xact Metal’s XM Series of printers solve the prototyping, tooling, and low volume casting challenges of small-to-medium businesses. The solution 3D prints components in a variety of metals and also includes software that facilitates simple machine setup, control, and monitoring.
Nematx develops 3D Polymer Printing Technology
Nematx is a Swiss startup that specializes in 3D printing of high-performance polymer. The startup’s Nematic 3D printing technology creates high-performance end-use parts which are superior to the current benchmarks in 3D printing. It uses liquid crystal polymer (LCP) as reinforcements in the polymer matrix which provides high inertness and fire resistance and is easier to recycle than carbon fiber. In addition, LCP undercuts carbon fiber manufacturing with a low raw material cost. This makes it suitable for manufacturing high-end parts for the aerospace, medical, and electronics industries. The startup integrates the technology into a retrofit 3D printer head simplifying its adoption into existing machinery.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Modern manufacturing equipment provides companies with a multitude of data that includes process and performance parameters. Proper analysis of this data generates insights on production optimization, maintenance scheduling, and asset management. Moreover, manual processing of this data is time-consuming, and simple computer software is unable to recognize trends and infer logical conclusions. Here, AI emerges as one of the top manufacturing trends to solve the problem of analyzing vast amounts of data and generating valuable insights quickly. AI improves many aspects of manufacturing operations including inventory management, supply chain visibility, warehousing cost reduction, and quality management. Another crucial application of AI is predictive maintenance which ensures manufacturing companies operate with minimal or zero unplanned shutdowns.
Zeominds builds Predictive Maintenance Solutions
Zeominds is an Indian startup that provides new AI-based products and services. ZeoAnalyzer is the startup’s AI-based software that enables predictive maintenance of industrial equipment and assets. The software performs stream analytics of machine data from IoT sensors and identifies indications of failure and degradation in performance. The platform uses this information to send reports and alerts on time to failure and regular parts maintenance to maintenance managers, and simultaneously communicate with ERP systems for spare part details. This way, ZeoAnalyzer reduces maintenance costs and increases the productivity of machines in factories.
Deevio implements Computer Vision-based Quality Control
Deevio is a German startup that focuses on the development of end-of-line quality control solutions applying AI and computer vision technology. AI-Box is an edge computer with an AI-driven inspection workflow to solve visual inspection tasks at the production line. It configures the cameras and triggers light and camera to take images that allow for a detailed surface inspection. Then, the system executes a deep learning algorithm that labels the image as “Ok” or “Not Ok” using deep neural networks. In contrast to the traditional rule-based inspection, Deevio’s AI undergoes training on previously labeled images. This solution automates visual inspection tasks and stores valuable information for quality analysis.
4. Industrial Internet of Things
Programmable logic controllers (PLC) and human-machine interfaces (HMI) display all the data regarding the machine condition and also enable changes in machine settings. But these units require physical presence to capture the relevant information and make the necessary adjustments. This restricts the visibility of the production unit to the shop floor employees. IIoT, through its interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices, connects the top management to the shopfloor and accelerates decision-making. This makes the IIoT one of the top manufacturing trends that streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve worker safety. In combination with AI, IIoT also allows companies to build digital twins of their production lines. This offers companies unprecedented information regarding shopfloor events and machine conditions.
Viga Lab offers IIoT Platforms
Viga Lab is a Chilean startup developing IIoT platforms that connect companies to their machines. The startup’s solution visualizes, analyzes, and acts effectively on the performance of the factory. Its sensors monitor if machines are operating and at what capacity, as well as are compatible with both digital and analog machines. The software provides a web platform, a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and a mobile application to operate and visualize the connected factory. The solution thus enables plant managers and engineers to view the factory performance remotely from a computer or a smartphone.
Haris Digital develops Wireless Smart Sensors
Haris Digital is a Hungarian startup that develops smart sensing solutions for the real-time monitoring of production equipment. The startup provides wireless sensors that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to collect and transmit machine data. The sensors capture the movements and vibrations of machines, providing insights into machine conditions. The solution uses this data to create a real-time monitoring dashboard that keeps top management up-to-date about the manufacturing process. This visibility on operations optimizes processes by analyzing the data and by providing actionable insights.
5. Immersive Technology
A variety of assembly processes still depend on a human workforce due to the degree of flexibility required for the procedures. This adds to the factor of human error in manufacturing plant calculations. Although instruction manuals and quality standards are physically available, continuously referring to them in assembly lines is impractical. This increases the probability of errors. Immersive techniques, like augmented reality (AR), overlays relevant information on a piece of machinery to guide the operator to identify and fix problems. AR has the ability to render 3D visuals of machines in actual proportion as well. This allows for training operators through step-by-step visuals on how to repair and maintain machinery. Immersive technology also allows skilled workers to carry out maintenance remotely, reducing the skill gap inside factories. In addition, virtual reality (VR) supports product prototyping as well as simulation and training applications.
Keon Digital provides AR-based Training Solutions
Keon Digital is a UK-based startup that provides customized AR solutions for businesses to deliver faster knowledge, modernized training methods, and product demonstrations. AR for manufacturing offers a better way to communicate and deliver easily consumable work instructions by overlaying digital content onto real-world equipment. Keon’s application produces accurate 3D models to allow employees to familiarize themselves with the equipment before operating. The startup’s solution increases workforce efficiency and safety, improving the operational performance of the factory. The AR-based methods also reduce training costs and improve new hire productivity.
Weviz facilitates Virtual Prototyping
Weviz is a French startup that develops 3D real-time collaborative visualization software for industrial applications. The startup’s Weviz VR is a virtual prototyping tool that creates 1:1 VR models to validate the design and ensure ergonomics of products, before going into production. Weviz Review is a real-time review platform where the design team collaborates with stakeholders, such as the manufacturing and marketing teams, using virtual models. Further, the Weviz Studio software validates and reviews models in real-time with realistic materials, mechanical constraints, and realistic lighting conditions. All these solutions eliminate unnecessary prototyping costs for validation, reducing the overall product development cost.
6. Big Data & Analytics
From raw materials management to maintenance schedule planning, the process of capturing and storing data is critical to ensure agility in manufacturing systems. The data in a manufacturing company consists of information regarding assets, materials, processes, and customer feedback – all in different formats and protocols. For this myriad of data, the conventional methods of data handling are inefficient in performing predictive or advanced analytics. Moreover, big data analytics with machine learning (ML) algorithms find patterns in the data and provide real-time insights. The vast amount of data that these analytics platforms process improves worker safety and efficiency while also simplifying product innovation and reducing costs.
DatenBerg allows for Big Data-driven Decision Making
DatenBerg is a German startup that uses big data analytics to simplify the decision-making process of complex production processes. The startup’s software uses data from multiple sources and consolidates it to visualize, compare and evaluate them. The solution finds relationships between input data and quality features of the product, which enables process improvements. The AI algorithms of the big data platform further generate predictive models that intelligently control the evaluation process. The proactive interventions from the solution assist manufacturing companies to prevent rejections and unexpected machine downtime.
Technotery tracks Key Manufacturing Data Indicators
Technotery is an Indian startup that offers turnkey information technology (IT) solutions for multiple industry verticals. Its software solution converts raw data from multiple sources in the manufacturing unit into a usable format. This data translates into an input for data visualization and business intelligence tools leading to a better understanding of the operational data. Technotery allows businesses in the manufacturing industry to determine Key Data Indicators (KDI) and uncover hidden trends and patterns from large amounts of data. The startup’s solution leads to effective maintenance management, high operational efficiency, and cost reduction.
7. Cloud Computing
The data that IoT devices collect from production lines have great potential to transform manufacturing operations. In the traditional system, all the data handling and analysis activities take place through the in-house hardware and servers. This adds the cost of setting up and maintaining expensive IT infrastructure and also restricts the accessibility of data to remote workforces. Cloud-based systems avoid the need for costly computer hardware and servers and allow the sharing of data across platforms. Cloud computing is an established manufacturing trend that enables on-premise users and remote workforces to collaborate in real-time. This approach in manufacturing improves manageability and reduces network maintenance.
Hefx provides Cloud-based Asset Management Solutions
Hefx is a Brazilian startup offering cloud software for managing assets and maintenance operation of a production line. The startup’s solution is a fully online asset management solution that collects all the machine data and analyses it on a cloud platform. The software uses this information in planning interventions, preventive maintenance, and setting calibration schedules. This avoids unplanned stoppages of equipment and machinery, as well as reduces maintenance costs and accelerated depreciation. By maintaining a strict maintenance schedule and carrying out preventive repairs, the solution increases the useful life of equipment without the need for onsite IT infrastructure.
Ridge builds a Distributed Cloud Infrastructure
Ridge is a US-based startup that develops an Application Programming Interface (API) that connects all the components of a distributed cloud infrastructure. The API platform enables interoperability with any hybrid or multi-cloud compute environment. Ridge’s solution enables facilities in diverse locations to have reliable, low-latency connectivity to the cloud. The massively distributed infrastructure of Ridge’s cloud service ensures multi-site manufacturing companies have their resources available even in the most remote locations. Thus the startup overcomes the challenges of data and knowledge sharing for manufacturers operating multiple plants.
The implementation of IIoT needs fast, secure, and continuous connectivity between the different devices in the manufacturing system. The increase in the number of connected devices and their related data constantly increases the demand for bandwidth. In this situation, the latest generation of network technology, 5G (mmWave) satisfies the need for high-speed, reliable, and secure connectivity. The 5G network’s high capacities, wireless flexibility, and low latencies enable companies to set up smart factories that greatly rely on sensor technology. This manufacturing trend features connected tools, utilizing data to guide the tasks of the workforce.
Celona enables 5G Network Performance Optimization
Celona is a US-based startup that develops an end-to-end 5G local area network (LAN) solution that meets the connectivity needs of AI, industrial automation, and edge computing applications. The Celona Platform features the AI-powered Celona Assistant to recommend designs for 5G LAN dimensioning depending on the capacity requirements and changing device densities. Colena Assistant also monitors the network to ensure optimal performance. The Celona Orchestrator is another feature of the platform that performs SIM provisioning and device access control. All these features provide autonomous vehicles and robots in factories access reliable connectivity.
Qucell establishes Private 5G Networks
Qucell is a South Korean startup that makes devices to set up private 5G networks in various scenarios, including smart factories and buildings. The Qucell Indoor mmWave module supports mmWave and delivers high-performance indoor wireless service enabling low-latency and high-bandwidth data transfer. This expedites manufacturing technologies in smart factories demanding real-time computing. HeMS is another offering from Qucell which is a fully automated management system for the fast roll-out and easy self-configuration of smart cell networks. It also has an easy and flexible interface for monitoring and management of smart cells. Qucell thus reduces capital expenditure by providing better coverage, in turn, avoiding the need for extra cells.
Like machines, the human workforce is an important asset of manufacturing companies. So the monitoring and coordination of the employees is an unavoidable aspect of optimizing productivity. Wearable devices like smartwatches, smart bands, and headsets provide critical data quickly and unobtrusively. The manufacturing trends of wearables improve the safety of workers by constantly monitoring movements on the shop floor and raising alarms in the event of a safety incident. The monitoring of shop floor movement also provides data that is useful in process improvements and layout designs. These solutions provide the companies with the health conditions of workers, facilitating the better care of employees. In addition, wearable headsets incorporated with AR blend real-world views with software-driven overlays to instruct workers on-the-job inside the factory.
Motion Miners enables Worker Activity Optimization
Motion Miners is a German startup providing solutions for analyzing the motion of workers for process optimization. It enables automatic and anonymous analysis of manual work processes with regard to their ergonomics and efficiency. These wearables on the employees’ wrists or waists anonymously record various activities. The startup also provides tracers and beacons permitting location-based analysis of the contacts to uncover critical areas. Motion Miner’s AI software automatically analyzes the data using deep learning algorithms and optimizes the waiting, travel, and handling time in processes in the shopfloor. The platform also analyzes the ergonomics of the processes by detecting unhealthy stooping, overhead work, or walking distances. The analytics dashboard further acts as an infection prevention tool by identifying contact hotspots on the factory floor – useful for manufacturers looking to reopen after the pandemic.
Tended provides Wearables for Worker Safety
Tended is a UK-based startup developing wearable solutions to enhance the safety of the workforce. The startup uses ultra-wideband technology in its wrist bands that deliver accurate employee location. Tended’s hub monitors the distance between devices and provides vibration alerts if the wearers get too close, ensuring social distancing. The wearable sensors detect trips, falls, or impacts, and monitor movement continuously, marking the employee as safe if motion is detected. The wearable also provides employees with a panic alarm to alert the management in case of an emergency. The startup offers a secure dashboard to monitor employee safety in real-time, identify workplace risks, and respond to emergencies. This also allows factories to sustain a constant connection with the workforce.
10. Green Manufacturing
The rise of global temperatures is directly related to each phase in the industrial revolution. The unchecked setup of manufacturing units and the wasteful use of resources in the growing phase of each industrial revolution has done irreversible damage to the planet. Thus the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0) of smart technologies does not have a free pass to utilize resources. This is why manufacturing companies are shifting to sustainable materials, energy, and processes to reduce their impact on the environment. Due to this, green technologies are important among the manufacturing trends. These sustainable solutions make the final product green, ensure a long lifetime, and promote circularity.
4D Pioneers develops Sustainable Additive Manufacturing Solutions
4DPioneers is a French startup that uses additive manufacturing of high-performance materials to create more sustainable products. The startup uses its structured development strategy for selecting the correct modeling, materials, and printing processes for manufacturing companies. The process evaluates materials to choose the one with high performance and durability and with a minimum impact on the environment. The effectiveness of material selection in maintaining sustainability depends on the printing process. The appropriate printing process ensures a sustainable flow in the production process. By taking decisions based on a green future, 4DPioneers minimizes the contribution of manufacturing to environmental pollution.
Skynano produces Green & Functional Nanomaterials
Skynano is a US-based cleantech startup that utilizes carbon emissions as a chemical feedstock to manufacture high-value functional materials. Its patent-pending technology offers commercial viability to carbon conversion technologies using secondary material from greenhouse gas inputs. The startup’s technique relies on electrochemistry to create an efficient process to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful functional nanomaterial. These nanomaterials have superior mechanical, thermal, and electronic properties in comparison to traditional materials. This way, the startup supplies manufacturing companies with high-performance materials at a low cost and also acts as an effective carbon capture method.
Discover More Manufacturing Technologies & Startups
The Top 10 Manufacturing Trends significantly improve operational efficiency, decision making, and implement sustainability practices in a manufacturing company. Collaborative robots, autonomous mobile robots, smart factories, and other automated equipment increase productivity and reduce labor costs. Additive manufacturing opens the door to new design concepts that were unthinkable due to the limitations of traditional processes. IIoT devices and platforms ensure continuous monitoring of assets and increase shop floor visibility to the higher management. The IIoT data are inputs for AI algorithms that find hidden patterns and accelerate decision-making processes. In addition, the use of immersive technology and wearables increases worker efficiency and safety.
The Manufacturing Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our in-depth research. Among others, advanced production techniques and sustainable manufacturing will transform various manufacturing industries as we know them today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business early on goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout relevant technologies & startups that matter to you.