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6 Manufacturing Industry Challenges You'll Need to Overcome

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By Mathieu Pepin - October 31, 2017

The manufacturing sector faces many unique challenges. Companies within this space deal with rapidly evolving customer expectations, supplier demands, and factory processes that need to be both efficient and effective. As manufacturers operate within an increasingly complex environment, they need to be prepared to navigate various challenges that they can encounter.

These challenges encompass economical, political, and industrial elements. Discover 6 of the biggest manufacturing industry challenges that companies are likely to face, yours included!

1. Competition on a global scale along with geo-political uncertainty

As advancements in technology continue to interconnect various locations around the globe, manufacturers are increasingly faced with the challenge of remaining competitivein a worldwide space. Suppliers are now able to deliver raw materials to factories around the globe in a shorter time, and customers are demanding products from different locations around the world.

It is up to manufacturers to implement a business model that makes them competitive on a global space. They need to find the right suppliers to source from at the best available price/quality, incorporate the best manufacturing processes to boost productivity, and cater to the needs of a global customer base. Manufacturers who are unable to remain relevant in the worldwide stage will most likely lose market share and experience decreasing margins.

In addition, uncertainty in the geo-political context is also among the top manufacturing industry challenges. As manufacturing continues to expand into a global process, it is also experiencing the volatility that is characteristic of various geo-political zones. Some areas may undergo periodic political uncertainty that can affect the economic environment. It is therefore important for manufacturers to put in place risk mitigation measures that will result in flexible supply chains and processes.

2. Deriving business value from better inter-connectivity

Another challenge that manufacturers often face is the ability to integrate the supply chain, plant operations and life-cycle management initiatives in a manner that results in value for the business. Inter-connectivity of business processes is an essential part of manufacturing. Data needs to be transparently shared across multiple departments in order to identify and respond to issues in real time. In fact, better connectivity was the primary driving force behind the digital transformation of factories.

The most challenging part for manufacturers is to be able to extend this integration into the supply chain and plant operations. As the plant implements more productive processes, the supply chain also needs to respond to rapidly evolving customer concerns. This requires working with suppliers in order to coordinate systems and processes such that your company can share data in real time with its suppliers.

The challenge also extends downstream of the supply chain to the customer. Manufacturers will need to implement product and service Life-Cycle Management initiatives that are aimed at satisfying customer needs during every step of the way. An effective life-cycle management strategy involves identifying and addressing customer concerns begging from the production process all the way after-purchase support.

3. Implementing processes aimed at customized production

Among the top manufacturing industry challenges is the need to keep up with rapidly evolving customer expectations. General production methods are becoming a thing of the past, with customized production taking center stage. Manufacturers are therefore faced with the challenge of making products in real time that reflect the needs and tastes of multiple customers.

In line with this goal, big inventory will be a thing of the past. Manufacturers will need to adapt their production processes in order to create customized products quickly and efficiently. This involves taking time to understand the needs of your customers and how to satisfy those needs.

4. Recruiting quality and diverse talent

Recruiting the right talent for your business is another top challenge in the manufacturing industry. In fact, many different industries actually face the challenge of recruiting top talent, but it is even more pronounced in manufacturing. This is because your staff will play a key role in the daily operations of the plant and will determine how effective your processes are. Without the right talent, no amount of technology and automation can help you reduce costs and boost productivity.

Recruited talent not only needs to be properly skilled, but they should also be diverse in their abilities. Manufacturers deal with multiple processes, ranging from technical engineering procedures to customer service. You will therefore need to implement a talent recruitment initiative that is both effective at attracting the right skill-set, and diverse in the results of the process.

5. Integrating automated assistance technologies (robotics, 3D printing, AI and AR) into your operations 

Automation continues to be a top challenge for most manufacturers. As companies seek to automate production processes in order to become more efficient, they often face the difficulty of integrating automated assistance technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence.

Manufacturers need to first of all figure out how to develop algorithms that will enable such machines to collect accurate data, carry out skilled functions, and anticipate customer trends. Next, they need to figure out how to integrate these technologies into daily business processes. This involves identifying the functional areas of the plant that need to be automated, and how to implement the automation in a manner that results in value for the business.

6. Dealing with data security

Data security is also among the top manufacturing industry challenges. As manufacturers aim at better business connectivity, they need to increase their use of and access to data. This data needs to be adequately secured against risks that can paralyze a business’s operations. The threat of poor data security is real in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing companies deal with data from machines, suppliers, and customer information. Without a solid strategy for securing this information, your business becomes vulnerable to attacks and compromise. In addition, the storing of data in cloud platforms further makes it necessary for the data to be secured.

You will, therefore, be faced with the challenge of proliferating connected information, instrumentation and cloud ecosystem networks in a manner that maximizes on security architectures.


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