In the view of Norman Aquilina, CEO of Simonds Farsons Cisk Plc, manufacturers face “near-continuous disruptions in 2022 that will add costs and test their abilities to restructure and adapt.”

Providing his reflections on 2021 and his predictions for 2022 to, Mr Aquilina warned that manufacturers must continually seek ways to improve their operations to support greater plant productivity, sustainable processes, and a faster time to market.

Providing examples of some of the challenges they are facing, he pointed to workforce shortages, supply chain instability, roving scarcity of materials and growing inflationary pressures, along with steep increases in shipping costs, which are “undoubtedly rendering the evolving scenario highly challenging.”

Speaking with expertise gained over his illustrious career at Farsons Group, which in addition to being local leaders in brewing & beverage production, includes subsidiaries within the food & beverage importation and fast food franchise business, he stated that managing operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner is now also increasingly becoming an important business imperative.

Mr Aquilina reflected that 2021 has broadly exposed the importance of being agile, responsive and innovative.

With “extraordinary” levels of uncertainty in the recent past having enabled many businesses to engrain an instinct to expect the unexpected, he said it has been encouraging to note that “many have broadly acquired greater resiliency, even if they will undoubtedly continue to be held by caution due to various ongoing developments.”

Of the general outlook for manufacturing during the year, the CEO explained that in spite of the gained momentum during the latter half of 2021, lingering concerns on “yet another” infectious wave of COVID render economic predictions for 2022 uncertain, and “somewhat cloudy.”

Furthermore, as economies struggle to come to terms with the spillover effect of the pandemic, Mr Aquilina expects the landscape to continue to be unpredictable for the foreseeable future.

Returning to the outlook for 2022, he stated that an emphasis needs to be placed on more innovative and advanced manufacturing, supported by ongoing investment in a highly skilled workforce, alongside improved productivity-adjusted operational costs. “This is the strategic direction needed,” he said.

Summing up, Mr Aquilina said that while the trajectory for 2022 remains challenging, a good number of manufacturers are already rebuilding their business and accelerating organisational changes, despite “significant headwinds”.

“The projection here is that hybrid and flexible business models will need to continue to evolve, pushing for more creative strategies with the right mix of vision and execution,” he concluded.

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