The world of manufacturing is evolving, along with all technology, at such fast rates that many manufacturers have a hard time keeping pace. Due to budgetary constraints, many plants are struggling to keep up with the competition. Below, we go over six of the major problems that manufacturers grapple with each year.
- Outdated Technology
Many plants have razor-thin profit margins. This doesn’t allow them to purchase the latest technology. Though some really amazing new machines can automate practically every process, they come at a high price tag. How can you take advantage of this technology on your current budget?
- Regulatory Compliance and Traceability
Industry regulations are increasing each year. They’re aimed at ensuring that products don’t go out to consumers that are unsafe. There’s an additional burden in the requirement to trace every item produced. Though regulations differ from one country to the next, there’s every reason to think this trend will continue. When consumers buy products that are found to contain asbestos, mercury, cyanide, and other harmful elements, it can ruin your reputation and trigger lawsuits. Those investigating events like this need to be able to learn where those harmful ingredients originated.
- Aging Work Force
Baby boomers are retiring every day in America. These were skilled, hard-working people who knew the value of a dollar. Their retirement is leaving a huge gap in the American workforce. One man worked in the printing industry for 40 years and knew how to run and repair any type of printing press. How will the industry replace workers like these? It takes a lifetime to acquire knowledge and skills like that. That’s one of the major issues that manufacturing and many industries are facing today.
- Keeping Products Relevant
Each time a new smartphone comes out, it causes older models to become obsolete. This is happening with almost every product line. From hair dryers to air fryers, new innovative products continually hit the market. Manufacturing companies spend a great deal of time and money just trying to keep up with what’s going on in the marketplace. There’s a huge temptation to skimp on tests and trials to make sure the product is safe to use. Sometimes companies use cheaper materials, and these can result in product failures and lawsuits.
- Beating Out the Competition
Fast times to market often mean that companies must hurry through important steps in the manufacturing process. In addition, product preferences change very quickly. What if your plant is making a circuit board for laptops, but new technology suddenly renders it obsolete? This will cause delays that eat away at your profits. It’s hard on your management and your workforce.
- Healthcare Costs
Most workers now expect some type of healthcare plan from their employer. But rising healthcare costs have put a huge strain on the already fragile manufacturing cost structures. If your plant employs 100 workers and healthcare for each one costs $600 a month, how can you recoup that $60,000 a month? Often manufacturers try to factor costs like this into the final price of their products, but then you risk losing out because some other plant can supply the same item for 20 percent less. There’s seemingly no solution for problems like this.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Manufacturers deal with issues like these every day. From compliance to having complete visibility into global supply chains, there’s an endless number of issues facing small manufacturing plants. If you make items like medical devices, the demands are even greater.
One area that all manufacturers deal with is technology. When your employees are working with the best networks, computers, apps, etc. they can get more done and reduce frustration. Mistakes are also reduced along with overtime.
Using the right technology for your industry is a proven way to crank out a better product at a lower price. Your technology investment is an investment in the future of your business. And you will realize a good solid return.
Ways to Win
It’s also important to keep equipment functioning at optimal levels. Regular preventive maintenance can help. Update your programs often. Invest in faster networks, routers, and computers. Don’t forget about replacing worn out wires and cables. When you perform regular proactive maintenance on all your equipment, you can prevent expensive breakdowns. You can keep your employees working and reduce accidents as well. That’s a win-win for everyone.