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smart manufacturing

How to Successfully Navigate Through the Transition to Smart Manufacturing

Manufacturing as we know it is going through a phase of unprecedented transformations. Several initiatives and efforts are in full swing to fundamentally transform the manufacturing sector and associated processes. These initiatives, although known by different names such as industry 4.0 in the west to manufacturing innovation 3.0 in the east, they all stand to have a common pursuit – smart manufacturing. A fully-connected manufacturing business where machines, devices, and people work seamlessly, sharing and acting on information in real-time is vital for manufacturers to pull off a successful changeover to smart manufacturing.

The global push for smart manufacturing is underway, creating a pool of growth opportunities for manufacturers. Smart manufacturing techniques offer several opportunities for companies in the manufacturing industry to improve their operations by providing greater connectivity across the manufacturing facility and the ability to act on production intelligence. However, while some agile manufacturers have embraced smart manufacturing fully and are reaping the benefits already, most still have much work ahead of them. According to experts at Infiniti, less than 15% of manufacturing companies around the globe have successfully implemented a strategy to apply Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to their production processes. Experts at Infiniti explain how companies in the manufacturing sector can go about smartly implementing smart manufacturing in their organizations.

Learn more about how Infiniti’s solutions can help stay updated with the latest manufacturing industry trends and challenges.

Improve quality and productivity

Quality management and kaizen techniques can only provide limited outcomes when the information relied on are limited and not available in real-time. Manufacturers are leveraging embedded equipment intelligence to monitor most product specifications in real-time, either from a customer or regulatory perspective. Apart from this, they’re using this intelligence to address product defects and variations, verify whether quality goals are met, and improve customer satisfaction. Embedded intelligence, when used to improve control and transparency of manufacturing processes creates new opportunities to improve productivity. For instance, operators on the plant floor are analyzing real-time production data to uncover hidden inefficiencies and ensure faster implementation of changes. Managers and logistics professionals are leveraging smart manufacturing technologies to deliver critical data including forecasts and schedules to suppliers, while also monitoring delivery performances at the supply chain level.

Enhancing decision-making process

Manufacturers must consider upgrading their existing technologies in order to attain next-gen productivity. This involves reconciling dissimilar data sources with the current IT systems, extracting the data from smart manufacturing technologies, and then converting that data into actionable insights. Manufacturers that have adhered to these steps and armed themselves with better information are using it to optimize their assets, improve their responsiveness to changing customer demands, refine workflows, and reduce inventory holding.

There is an increasing need for for agile production, operational efficiency, and control in the manufacturing industry. Get in touch with our experts to learn how our solutions can help your organization keep up with the changing market dynamics.

Safeguard against threats

Availability of larger data sets and more connection points can introduce greater risk to manufacturing companies in the forms of internal and external threats. Cyber attackers are looking beyond corporate servers to target operations technologies, while decades-old devices and controls of companies in the manufacturing sector can be more susceptible to breaches through both malicious attacks and unintentional employee actions. No single security technology or methodology will suffice in this complex threat landscape. Instead, manufacturers must use a comprehensive, defense-in-depth approach that establishes security safeguards at different layers to stop threats on multiple fronts. Robust and secure network infrastructure should be built on standard and unmodified Ethernet, which has become the industry preference for security purposes.

Safe, compliant, and reliable operations

An ongoing concern for most manufacturers is to achieving safe, compliant, and reliable operations, and smart manufacturing technologies provide new opportunities for dealing with some of these age-old challenges. Common opportunities provided by smart manufacturing will include replacing obsolete and isolated automation systems that have exceeded their life spans, are difficult to connect and are no longer supported by their manufacturers. However, manufacturers also should define new requirements based on past performance in areas such as employee injuries, machinery downtime, and work stoppages.

Learn more about Infiniti’s solutions for companies in the manufacturing industry

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manufacturing industry

US Manufacturing Industry: How to Improve Scalability and Compete in Future

The US manufacturing industry is quite different from what it was probably a decade or two ago. The erosion of American manufacturing companies has contributed to approximately two-thirds of the fall in labor share of US GDP. This is primarily due to the fact that the output growth in the US manufacturing industry has been largely concentrated on a few industries such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, and aerospace. Despite the headwinds in the sector, some of the largest US manufacturers have managed to thrive, but several small and mid-size manufacturing companies are facing the heat. The United States must now focus on positioning its manufacturing sector to leverage existing opportunities and prepare to compete in the future rather than making attempts to recreate the past or maintain status quo.

Small and midsize companies in the US manufacturing industry need more mentorship and strategic guidance to understand the market opportunities at stake. Request a free proposal for more insights from our experts.

US manufacturing industryStrengthen supplier base

Keeping suppliers at arms-length often has an impact on the bottom-line of large manufacturers. For instance, take the case of automobile manufacturing. The inefficiencies in interactions between OEM and suppliers can add up to development, tooling, and product costs. These costs are generally seen to be higher for US manufacturing companies when compared to their Asian counterparts. Similar inefficiencies can also impact other industries and are more likely to increase as the need to expand product portfolios and reduce turnaround times increases. Seeking lower bids from suppliers can result in diminishing returns over time. Procurement should be viewed as a source of value rather than simply a means to cut costs. Companies in the manufacturing industry can also benefit from identifying the suppliers that provide critical, high-value components and these may not be the largest suppliers. Rather than restricting themselves to only monitoring suppliers, US manufacturing industry companies must make efforts to solicit their ideas, invest in their capabilities, and build trust to enhance supplier relationships.

Many manufacturers, particularly in advanced industries, often report difficulties in identifying and capitalizing on opportunities before their counterparts in the market. Get in touch with our experts to know how our solutions can help companies grab opportunities and gain a better foothold.

Deeper global engagement

Emerging markets open up new opportunities for companies in the US manufacturing industry to win customer loyalty and build their customer base. However, the number of US companies that sell abroad are much lesser when compared to other developed economies. Small and mid-size companies in the US manufacturing industry must gain a deeper and strategic understanding of the opportunities that their counterparts enjoy in advanced economies and turn it to their advantage.

Improve adoption of digital technology

The US manufacturing industry has been relatively slow in the adoption of digital technologies. This has caused a significant impact on the industry’s productivity performance. When compared to nations such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea the adoption of advanced technologies and robotics in the manufacturing industry has been comparatively lower in the United States. In order to capitalize on modern technology, manufacturers have to capture, analyze, and integrate data flows across operations. Also, consider upgrading and replacing some outdated machinery with the latest ones.

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Competitive Landscape Analysis

Critical Challenges facing small manufacturing companies in the U.S.

The U.S. manufacturing industry is facing unprecedented challenges. The sector stands at a critical point in its long history wherein the future of the big and small manufacturing companies will largely depend on how industry leaders view and react to the changing landscape. That being said, small manufacturers in particular face a fair number of challenges, including competition from large domestic businesses in the U.S. as well as from other global players. As the technological, demographic, and economic climate shifts, small manufacturing companies must innovate themselves in order to stay competitive. Let’s take a look at some of the issues facing small manufacturing companies through the lens of industry experts at Infiniti Research.

Challenges faced by small manufacturing companies

small manufacturing companiesCompetition from foreign companies

Small manufacturing companies in the U.S. are currently facing steady competition from several players around the globe. The competitive pressure is particularly high from Asian countries such as China where similar products can be produced for a fraction of the price it would cost to produce similar products in America. The low labor costs in countries like China enables manufacturers to produce and sell at extremely low prices, posing severe challenges for small manufacturing companies in the U.S.

Despite recurring challenges, small manufacturing companies can leverage advanced business intelligence solutions to face these challenges head-on and continue their upward momentum without any disruption. Request a free proposal to know more.

Regulations and compliance issues

One of the major roadblocks for U.S. based small manufacturing companies to compete with their offshore counterparts in terms of price is the labor costs and stringent government regulations. The U.S. is also constantly changing their regulatory and compliance policies that can force small manufacturing companies to make adjustments, causing them to spend even more on monitoring compliance.

Increasing quality of offshore manufacturing

A decade or two ago, the foreign quality of production was poor when compared to the U.S. However, now not only are the products manufactured outside the U.S. cheaper but over the years the quality of these products has also risen drastically. This has resulted in intense competition for small manufacturing companies. In order to survive such growing manufacturing industry challenges, companies in the manufacturing industry, especially small manufacturers must focus on improving their quality of production while maintaining their costs.

Get in touch with our industry experts to know how small manufacturing companies can tackle critical manufacturing challenges, turn them into opportunities, and eventually grow the business.

Shortage of skilled labor

Skilled workforce is highly essential in the manufacturing industry to complete various specialized tasks ranging from welding to programming automation systems. There has been a decline in the number of people enrolling for such skilled courses in universities over the past couple of years. To add on to this dilemma, a major portion of the existing workforce in the U.S. manufacturing industry are almost on the verge of retirement.  Consequently, there is a shortage of skilled workforce across large and small manufacturing companies. Manufacturers now need to identify new ways to incentivize and attract talent into the industry.

Competition from on-shoring

Apart from competing with offshore firms, small manufacturing companies are now also facing increased competition due to the growing trend of on-shoring. Foreign companies that primarily cater to U.S. customers are finding it more cost effective to manufacture in the states because of the cost of storage, transportation, and tariffs. Such companies act as an extra competition in the already difficult market, especially for small manufacturing companies.

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workforce management

Drilling Down the Workforce Management Challenges of the Manufacturing Sector

The manufacturing industry in the U.S. has made impressive strides in the past couple of years. The country has witnessed a rise in public awareness about the modern manufacturing industry, increase in jobs returning to the country, and also the advent of new technologies that are driving the industry forward. However, the ongoing struggle to find skilled labor due to the rapid retirement of baby boomers from the sector is proving to be a major workforce management challenge for companies in the manufacturing sector. Apart from this, there are several other challenges that manufacturing companies must tackle in order to sustain the future scalability of the sector.

Stay updated on our latest market intelligence solutions for the manufacturing industry. Request a free brochure to learn more.

Top workforce management challenges

 Hiring the right workforce

Manufacturing operations today are largely different from what it was a decade ago. The advent of digital technologies including robotics and advanced enterprise software are paving way for a new manufacturing environment. The modern workforce must have the skills and expertise to handle the digital systems which have become a part and parcel of the manufacturing sector.  Fewer schools offer shop classes and more students shy away from manufacturing, posing as a workforce management challenge for manufacturers to find the right talent.

Are you a manufacturer facing similar challenges? Request a free proposal to know how we can help you overcome them.

Consistent training and education

With rapid changes taking place in the manufacturing industry, even well-trained employees may face difficulties in keeping pace with these disruptions. Another key workforce management challenges for companies in the manufacturing sector is to ensure consistent training and education that would ensure that employees are up-to-date with the new tech trends and other market changes.

Overcoming stigmas related to manufacturing jobs

Throughout the United States, manufacturing has fallen out of style. High Schools, teachers and parents alike are steering children away from a career in the industry. This sector is currently bogged down by outdated stigmas such as being a dark, dangerous, and an ominous industry creating serious workforce management challenges for this sector. 

Cybersecurity threats

Technology continues to change how manufacturers develop products and interact with customers. As a result, information technology security risks have increased. Despite this, several manufacturers fail to take the necessary steps to protect their data. The number of connected products in manufacturing operations is on the rise, consequently, external and internal vulnerabilities are also increasing in the industry.

How can Industry 4.0 help manufacturers overcome workforce management challenges? Download this free resource to find out:

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contract manufacturing

Why are Top manufacturers moving to Contract Manufacturing?

What is contract manufacturing?

Contract manufacturing is often used interchangeably with the term ‘outsourcing.’ outsourcing is the technique of transferring portions of work to outside sources and suppliers, instead of undertaking the entire work within the company, resulting in lower costs and expenses. Contract manufacturing is a form of outsourcing where a manufacturer enters into a formal agreement with another manufacturer (contract manufacturing organization) to produce parts, products, or components, which the former will then use in its own manufacturing process, to complete its own product. They then undertake their own marketing, sales and distribution, and customer service to bring the final product to the end-users or consumers. In some cases, contract manufacturers may also be specialized organizations that provide contract manufacturing services to more than one business. 

Learn how top manufacturers around the globe are enhancing their operations. Request a free brochure to know how our solutions can help your business get there.

Different types of contract manufacturing

The different forms of contract manufacturing vary based on nature and operations involved in a business. Some of the most common forms of contract manufacturing agreement includes:

Production of the entire product

As the name clearly suggests, this involves contract manufacturing organizations building the entire product for a company under the brand name or label of the latter. This type of contract manufacturing is also called as ‘private label manufacturing’.

Production of parts or components

In this type of contract manufacturing, companies depend on a contract manufacturing organization to produce parts or components that will be incorporated into the final product of the company. For instance, a computer hardware manufacturer can use contract manufacturing for producing smaller computer parts and components, which is then assembled into their final product.

Hiring service or labor force

This involves subcontract for labor. If a business does not possess enough manpower in their company to carry out production processes smoothly and quickly, then they can outsource labor. Take the example of big multinational companies in the US who set up their manufacturing unit in Asian countries and subcontract their labor forces to Asian human resource companies. The key reasons why companies adopt this form of manufacturing is the specialized skills that these labor forces have and the comparatively cheaper cost of labor when compared to their home countries.

Using manufacturing equipment or facility

Companies that do not have the facility or the equipment to manufacture can transact with a contract manufacturer for the use of their facility. This saves the company capital investment needed to set up a manufacturing unit.

Confused about what strategies will help you increase your profit margins? Leave it to the experts! Request a free proposal to know how we can help you formulate the best go-to-market strategy and increase your share of wallet.

Why do top manufacturers favor contract manufacturing?

The decision to make or buy a product/ parts of a product can often prove to be a tough decision for companies. They often undertake feasibility studies for the management to gain a better understanding of what would be more beneficial for them. One of the key benefits that companies can derive from contract manufacturing is the reduction in cost and expenditure. But this is not the only reason companies opt to get into agreements with contract manufacturing organizations. Some of the other reasons include:

  • Improved allocation of resources
  • Greater focus on core business functions
  • Increased innovation and enhanced product quality
  • Reduction in manufacturing time
  • Streamlined business relationships

 

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competitive pricing

Manufacturing Industry Trends: What’s New in 2019?

Despite the rising challenges, top companies are keen on orchestrating the latest manufacturing industry trends into their business strategy. As a result of leveraging advanced manufacturing capabilities, manufacturers are benefiting from increased visibility into operations, substantial cost savings, increased speed in production times and improved customer support. The future of manufacturing will continue to revolve around digitization and technological innovations. Based on our manufacturing industry trends analysis, here’s our take on the top trends expected to dominate the market in 2019 and how the recent trends in manufacturing technology are all set to revamp this sector.

Emerging manufacturing industry trends, market expansions, and technological innovations will underpin the growth of the manufacturing sector in 2019. Request a free brochure to learn how our solutions can help businesses adapt to the dynamic market.

Manufacturing industry trends 2019

manufacturing industry trendsPredictive maintenance

A manufacturing equipment breakdown could prove to be a costly affair for manufacturers – both in terms of repairs as well as the loss of productivity due to the downtime. In fact, a single hour of downtime could cost manufacturing companies thousands of dollars. Therefore, several companies in the manufacturing sector are turning towards the latest manufacturing industry trends like predictive maintenance to ensure proper functioning of all their equipment. In predictive maintenance, a number of performance metrics are used to monitor various equipment. Automating the data collection process using IoT technology helps manufacturers gain a better understanding of how systems work and when they are likely to fail. The ability to predict the maintenance cycle and requirements saves manufacturers valuable time, money, and resources.

Blockchain boom

The blockchain technology is now gradually taking the manufacturing industry by storm. In 2019, we can expect blockchain to be one of the most notable manufacturing industry trends that can have a direct impact on several sections of the manufacturing industry including- increasing speed, cost-effectiveness, and security. This technology is also likely to play a major role in enhancing the management, tracking, and transaction reporting in the supply chain.

Request a free proposal to learn how our solutions can help you overcome challenges in identifying the latest manufacturing industry trends and transform your business to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Reshoring

Reshoring or bringing back production operations into the United States is one of the key manufacturing industry trends to watch out for in 2019. There are several factors contributing to reshoring. Firstly, the increase in the standard of living of go-to offshoring countries is resulting in increased wages. Secondly, the countries that offer cheap labor do not have the infrastructure capabilities that are necessary to support the complex manufacturing processes. Today, one of the most notable manufacturing industry trends include automation for basic and repetitive processes, which is also a major contributor to the resurgence in reshoring.

Simplifying supply chain management

Delivering more value to customers when compared to the counterparts in the market plays an integral role in remaining competitive in the market. This is no longer accomplished through pricing strategies as savvy manufacturers are fast moving away from price wars and leveraging ways to gain competitive benefits. This includes simplifying supply chain management to gain operational efficiency, increased visibility and control, improved customer satisfaction, and lower operational costs. Some of the key supply chain technology solutions that can be used to address the challenges in manufacturing include- manufacturing optimization, sales and operations planning, business intelligence, and product lifecycle management.

ERP systems

New manufacturing industry trends such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) are playing a critical role in creating a lean and competitive advantage for manufacturers. ERP systems help manufacturers to streamline processes by automating business process and provide real-time and accurate information which helps reduce the administrative and operational costs. As a result, manufacturers can proactively prevent disruptions, manage operations, and facilitate quicker decision-making.

Why Infiniti?

Leading players in the manufacturing industry are confronting uncertainties in the face of digitization and new customer expectations. Moreover, with the rapidly changing manufacturing industry trends, industrial and manufacturing sector companies are facing the need to develop new strategies and invest in technology to gain a stronger foothold. Established in 2003, Infiniti Research is a leading market intelligence company providing smart solutions to address your business challenges. Infiniti Research studies markets in more than 100 countries to help analyze competitive activity, see beyond market disruptions, and develop intelligent business strategies.

Get in touch with us to learn how our solutions can help your business

Laptop with pen and spiral notebook on desk.

Top 3 Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry and Ways to Tackle Them

Leading players in the manufacturing industry are confronting uncertainties in the face of digitization and new customer expectations. The manufacturing industry is one of the important wealth-generating sectors of the global economy and accounts for a significant share of the global workforce to develop materials needed by organizations across various industries. Moreover, as the drumbeat for innovation and digitization grows louder, companies in the manufacturing industry are facing the need to plan new strategies and invest more in technology to gain a stronger foothold. Consequently, the advent of technology is posing a new set of challenges before the industry, which need to be addressed in order to maintain the growth momentum. In this article, we have discussed some of those challenges and have suggested a few measures to tackle them effectively.

Challenges in the Manufacturing Industry

Challenge #1: Shortage of skilled labor

With the baby boomer generation entering the phase of retirement, the manufacturing industry is facing an acute shortage of labor. Today, employers in the manufacturing industry need employees with a different set of skills. There are certain tasks that have become automated and machine sensors have become more commonplace. This has created the need for manufacturers to collect large amounts of data and is opening up new avenues for employment.

Solution: To tackle this challenge, manufacturers need to plan their strategic workforce smartly. Also, they should focus more on recruiting millennials who have technical skills and ‘know-how’. Additionally, there must be an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills to streamline recruitment initiatives.

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Challenge #2: Management of project

In the manufacturing industry, projects are typically cost, time, and quality sensitive and, as a result, tend to be rigid and tightly controlled. Such rigidity and tight control mean less ability to make adjustments or update scope as the project progresses.  Many of these projects need a design commitment, with little flexibility to alter as requirements change or new information pops up.  This becomes quite frustrating for a team that wants to produce the best product but is handcuffed by deadline constraints.

Solution: To deal with such manufacturing industry challenges, the team leader needs to ask for dedicated resources. Also, utilizing the project service automation software that includes universal resource scheduling can help the manufacturers to quicGet More Infokly find resources that are available and adjust the schedule based on the predicted completion date of the project.

Challenge #3: Analyzing the data

With the increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT), the manufacturing industry is facing difficulties in aggregating and analyzing the data. While many organizations may have smart machines already on their shop floor, they lack the systems to extract and analyze the data being captured by these systems. This forces manufacturers to miss out on quality.  Therefore, manufacturers are facing the dire need to improve their data mining capacities to improve real-time decisions.

Solution: Implementing an IoT solution designed to help maintenance of predictive analytics, as well as remote monitoring, can help companies in the manufacturing industry to analyze their data in real-time. Also, this can help in predicting the time when maintenance of an asset is required.  Consequently, manufacturers can shift from replace or repair maintenance model to a fix and predict model.


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IR26

5 Manufacturing Challenges Affecting CIOs of Manufacturing Companies in 2018

MANUFACTURING CHALLENGESToday, chief information officers (CIOs) of manufacturing companies are facing numerous changes that will affect the future growth prospects of manufacturing companies. Driving this change are a number of opportunities to grow and boost manufacturing processes. Though research shows that manufacturing companies will have ample opportunities to grow, CIOs will witness the advent of new manufacturing challenges that will compel them to change the way they look at strategies to improve the scale, speed, and simplicity of manufacturing processes.

At Infiniti, we are constantly in touch with manufacturers and hear first-hand about the issues they face. Since the manufacturing challenges are real, we thought we’d list out a few so that CIOs of manufacturing companies can devise effective business strategies to address them head-on.Get more info

Top manufacturing challenges of 2018

Boosting revenues

One of the biggest manufacturing challenges that CIOs face today is boosting their revenue growth with the technology systems that they already have in place. Manufacturing companies will have to re-strategize their production workflows to meet the demands of short production runs for existing products and streamline new product introductions.

Shortage of skilled workforce

With Baby Boomers exiting the workforce and taking their valuable manufacturing skills with them, new reports claim that more than three million manufacturing jobs will become available over the next 10 years. Manufacturing companies are already feeling the heat when it comes to filling the vacant positions and the impending exodus of Baby Boomers will only add to their growing tally of manufacturing challenges for this year.Get more info

 

Advanced technologies

Though new technologies are aimed at making life easier for all of us, that’s not always the case for manufacturing companies. Technologies such as IoT, industrial automation, cloud and edge computing, and robotics are advancing at a break-neck speed. And by the time IT teams of manufacturing companies adjust and get approvals for new technology installations, a better solution emerges. This rapid development and availability of new technologies will be one of the biggest manufacturing challenges of 2018.

Data security

One of the major manufacturing challenges faced by CIOs this year is ensuring cybersecurity. With advances in technology and advent of new platforms, the risk of data leaks has also increased. Today, hackers aren’t just happy stealing data, they want to extort money by holding the confidential data hostage. In the past year, Ransomware attacks have almost doubled, and manufacturing companies can expect more frequent attempts as they integrate more technologies into their manufacturing processes.Get more info

Regulatory changes

Risk mitigation and avoiding uncertainties are a crucial part of any business process. When manufacturing regulations change, the costs associated with the manufacturing process also ebbs and flows. Tax regulations and trade agreements keep changing with every news cycle and amendments to government regulations can wreak havoc for manufacturing companies. Manufacturing challenges in the form of regulatory changes is one of the major factors influencing the profitability of manufacturers. As a result, CIOs need to be on top of their game at all times and predict changes before time to remain profitable.


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