manufacturing industry challenges
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.
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.
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 This sector is currently bogged down by outdated stigmas such as being a dark, dangerous, and an ominous industry creating serious workforce management challenges for this sector.
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.
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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.
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.
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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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.
Manufacturing industry trends 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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 quickly 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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Today, 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.
Top manufacturing challenges of 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.