The State of Digitization in the Manufacturing Sphere

Person using smartphone to check order status, with icon flow showing various manufacturing tools and concepts

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry has been slower than other sectors to adopt digital tools. But sophisticated solutions such as MRP, MES, and QMS can significantly increase production and improve companies’ bottom lines. So what is holding manufacturers back?

First, the belief that manufacturing workers are not tech savvy may be preventing some companies from adopting new technologies. If a business owner believes that employees can’t transition, then why make the investment in the first place? But this is often a misconception, and many younger workers joining the workforce are eager to make use of technology to increase their output and efficiency.

Manufacturers should always be looking for opportunities to improve and innovate. To stay ahead of the competition, it’s important to keep abreast of the new technologies emerging, such as 3D printing and robot manufacturing.

So how are manufacturing companies using digital tools in today’s day and age?

Technology in the Manufacturing Sector

In a recent survey of 154 small to midsize manufacturing businesses, it was found that 44% of respondents currently use material requirements planning (MRP) software. Another survey found that only 18% of business use industry-specific inventory software. This shows that many manufacturers — over half — are not using appropriate software to aid in the manufacturing process. And if they are, it’s software that is not properly optimized for their company.

Also, one in five manufacturers said that they always rely on manual methods to accomplish tasks that could easily be completed using digital tools.

What Does the Future Hold?

This reliance on manual methods and the lack of software use in the industry as a whole are no cause for immediate concern. Manufacturing is actually on the cutting edge of today’s newest technologies and innovations, and many workers are learning to work alongside new pieces of technology throughout the manufacturing process — maintaining and monitoring robots, for instance. Technology isn’t necessarily taking jobs from workers; rather, it’s requiring workers to have different skill sets.

Manufacturing in the Cloud

The cloud offers a range of benefits for all types of industries, and it’s forecasted to play a major role in manufacturing trends moving forward. Cloud software offers a lower cost model for manufacturing systems and an easier way to keep the shop floor connected.

When dealing with new software, many small to midsize manufacturers face a huge barrier to entry: the cost of the initial investment. Cloud software typically adheres to a subscription-based pricing model, which means a new business can budget for monthly or yearly payments rather than purchasing something outright. It also allows companies to “try before you buy,” so businesses don’t need to go all in on a software that might not be a good long-term fit.

The Takeaway

To stay ahead of the curve in today’s evolving marketplace, manufacturers must learn how to leverage software to their advantage.

 

Image credit: 24Novembers/Shutterstock.com

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