Today’s manufacturers are working at an unprecedented pace. They are producing more goods, in less time, with greater precision than ever before. While this is an encouraging trend for any organizations that rely on manufacturing, it does create some incredibly complex issues for individual manufacturers. If these issues are not managed properly, the manufacturer could fail to live up to their own potential or fall behind their competitors.
The solution to these matters is different for each manufacturer. The problems, however, are rather universal. And in order for producers both large and small to thrive in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, they have to understand what kinds of obstructions and obstacles stand in their way. With the in mind, focus in on five problems that plague modern manufacturing.
Maintaining Regulatory Compliance
Manufacturers are subject to sweeping regulations applying to everything from environmental management to workplace safety. Maintaining compliance across multiple facilities and interconnected operations is an issue that scales with the size of the company. In order for modern manufacturers to avoid hefty fines/fees and damage to their public reputation they must have more visibility into their operations and a greater ability to audit the data regulators want.
Keeping Consumer Attention
Every manufacturer faces competition from rival factories promising to do things cheaper, faster, or better. Every manufacturer is also under pressure to keep products relevant, to introduce new products, and to make those products stand out in the market. That requires a symbiotic relationship between product development, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and other stakeholders. Tools like a sales dashboard also enable sophisticated data analytics, which reveal market insights and inform manufacturing priorities.
Recruiting and Retaining Talent
At the same time that automation is replacing large swaths of workers, high-tech manufacturing demands skilled workers that can’t be replaced by machines. Defining, recruiting, and retaining the right staff mix for the present and future is not easy, and it requires a holistic view of how manufacturing works together with other entities within an enterprise. Overcoming the skills gap in manufacturing will require a fundamentally smarter approach to staffing that approaches the process from a strategic position.
The cost of essential operational expenses like energy and worker healthcare are all rising. That makes it harder than ever for modern manufacturers to operate efficiently or effectively. Decision-making based on assumptions, intuitions, or risky bets leads inevitably to extra costs and rising instability. If manufacturers are going to insulate themselves from turbulence they must rely on large volumes of quality data to provide objective guidance. When margins are tight and there is no room for error, data provides an essential level of precision.
The paramount importance of data has been emphasized several times in this piece. In practice, however, data is both an opportunity and a major hurdle. Manufacturers not used to take on large-scale data storage. And as data becomes more and more important to manufacturing, poor data management will go from being a lost opportunity to be a distinct competitive disadvantage. Then again, manufacturers who use the proper tools (like relational search) can make data accessible across an organization. This will prove to be a huge competitive advance for some.
Many of the problems mentioned here can be attributed to growing pains. The manufacturing sector is in the midst of a radical transformation, and the speed of the change is difficult for anyone to keep up with. The manufacturers that ultimately rise to the top do not see their problems as insurmountable challenges. Rather, they see them as opportunities to build experience and expertise in areas that are essential for the future.