2019 hasn’t been an easy year for the manufacturing industry, and 2021 is going to get even more challenging. Let’s look at seven manufacturing challenges that companies are expected to battle in the coming year.
Skilled labor gap
With a generation filled with skills entering retirement, the manufacturing industry is witnessing a looming labor shortage. By the year 2025, there will be around 2 million to 3.5 million unoccupied manufacturing positions.
Thanks to the advent of new technology, manufacturing firms find themselves in less need of employees. However, they need workers with different sets of skills. Specific tasks around manufacturing have been automated. Machine sensors have become common in the industry. They are utilized to collect significant amounts of information. With this kind of innovation, the job make-up in the industry is shifting.
Manufacturers now require workers with top-tech skill sets. They need employees that are proficient in mathematics and own an analytical mind. The desire for an unskilled and trainable workforce that was embraced some time back is slowly shrinking as innovation has become more prevalent.
An advance in the augmented reality sector, combined with virtual reality, is making it effortless for manufacturers to train on the job and also cut on the costs.
The manufacturing industry is increasingly using the Internet of Things. A majority of firms either have already implemented the technology or are on the verge of implementing the Internet of Things machines.
These smart machines assist companies in collecting useful information that can aid them to improve productivity and implement predictive maintenance. But, gathering information is a relatively easy task. Analyzing and aggregating collected data is the challenging part.
With companies already having the machines on their shelves, most of them don’t have the system to analyze and extract the information being captured by the system. In this particular sense, the industry is missing out on a very vital opportunity.
The entire industry needs to better on data mining capacities. This way, they will be in a position to make better and real-time decisions.
Implementing the Internet of Things designed to assist manage analytics and predictive maintenance is essential. The technology of monitoring can support the industry to analyze their data promptly. Also, it will assist in predicting the maintenance period of an asset. As a result of this, the industry will transition from a replace or repair maintenance to a predict and fix model.
Customer Self-service application
Most manufacturing companies are focused on the timely delivery of commodities. Also, they seek to maximize profits and revenue. However, customer self-service has fallen by the wayside. Customer-facing portals and applications have been common in the industry. All clients in need of information are forced to use their phones to contact the manufacturer. This has been a frustrating task for clients, especially in this digital age.
The manufacturing industry customers consist of partners, end-consumers, and sub-contractors. The three customers have unique needs, requirements, and concerns for partnering and interacting with the manufacturer. With isolated partner and end-customer portals connected to a significant source, manufacturers will be able to offer quality customer service.
Clients will be able to inquire, request new proposals, search for solutions or knowledge and also obtain necessary updates of their orders. Sub-contractors will be able to track, accept, and update the tasks assigned to them. Also, they will use the self –service portal to communicate with the manufacturer.
All these data can then be kept in the system and retrieved for manufacturers to serve their clients. With such a system, timely information will be provided to all the parties in a digitalized manner.
Internal system users are similar to clients who prefer self-service platforms instead of using the cell phone. Internal users require updated systems that can assist them to better job performance.
Updated systems offer flexibility, greater insight, and speed. This permits workers to use applications to their benefit by performing their tasks more efficiently and effectively. The system provides a conducive environment for employees to complete their tasks instead of hindering completion of jobs.
However, the AS/400 systems that most manufacturing firms utilize can’t provide a much-needed user experience. Today’s workers need an updated system. Companies must venture into the market and look for solutions. There are numerous available solutions that firms can acquire to provide a much-advanced user experience.
For manufacturers to convey products to the market, they must adhere to extremely stressful, tight, and strict timelines. In the manufacturing line, all projects are all about cost, time, and quality sensitive. As a result, these projects tend to be rigid and tightly controlled. Manufacturers that fail to beat the deadlines are always at a greater risk of losing millions of money in potential profit and revenue.
Such rigidity and tight control mean that there is less ability for companies to update their scopes or make adjustments as the projects are ongoing. Most projects entail a design commitment that is carried early on. There is always less flexibility for adjustment as new data emerges or requirements for change. This can be challenging and frustrating for a team that anticipates producing quality products. Deadlines always handcuff them.
Trade war effects
Small profits are a significant worry for all manufacturers. This can be made worse with continued trade wars. Current trade wars affect all industry sectors. Manufacturing is not an exception since finished products and raw materials are sourced and sold across the globe. In the coming year, the industry is considering tactical changes, mainly in the supply chain. They want to ease the impact of trade wars that are always heating up.
Need for a supply chain visibility
Manufacturers ought to meet the soaring client demand for more transparency. They should satisfy the demand throughout the customer experience and product lifespan. For this to be achieved, there must be granular visibility and real-time in the entire supply chain.
Manufacturers must be aware of every detail. They must know when products delay reaching the market. Being updated on such situations will give them an upper hand to adjust or rectify the problem.
These are the challenges that the industry will carry to the coming year. Either way, they can’t ignore them if they wish to continue enjoying the manufacturing resurgence.