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Aging Brings Challenges and Opportunities to Manufacturing

Thu Jan 22 22:00:00 EST 2015

The world isn’t getting any younger. Mortality and fertility have declined in nearly all countries. Globally, older persons are expected to exceed children for the first time by 2047. The speed of aging in Asia is even faster, the population of those aged 65 and above are projected to increase by 314 percent over the next 50 years. This presents some very real labor-force challenges as  the demand for consumer goods increases with the standard of living in these very regions of the world. But there are also opportunities.

One opportunity is automation.  By augmenting an aging labor force, manufacturers gain strategic leverage that improves consistency while streamlining human tasks. As a result, automation removes workers from health-harmful repetitive motions and refocuses their efforts on solving higher level problems.

Jabil CEO Mark Mondello recently sat down with IndustryWeek to discuss the manufacturing industry. He highlighted automation saying that it is an accelerating area and will continue to be in the future. Mondello also pointed to some of the industries he saw as up-and-coming:

“Macro areas that we think have good growth potential over the next 6 to 8 years include energy, water, the aging population, biometrics and wearables.”

As the Internet of Things envelops everything the aging consumer population touches, there’s certainly going to be demand for connected health. Medtronic has developed the MyCareLink™, enabling people to connect to physicians via integrated global cellular technology. Philips is also working on a remote patient system that connects various in-home devices which patients can use to record their vitals and submit them to their healthcare providers.

Biometrics is projected to grow to nearly $11 billion in annual revenues by 2017, and making technology more secure and accessible for the older consumer base will be essential to long-term industry success.

What challenges and opportunities does an aging global population present in the manufacturing industry and the markets it serves?