Stagnation is the enemy of most businesses in most industries. You’d be hard pressed to find a company that hasn’t had to adapt in some way to changing technologies, societal norms and stricter regulations. While this isn’t a bad thing, it can be hard to keep up – especially when it comes to technology. And with more technology comes the expectation that more products will be available more quickly with more advancements.
Pulling this off is dependent on many different factors optimally working together. Managers starting to modernize their manufacturing floor should consider three things to begin with.
Not to be confused with the awesome band, the who of manufacturing is changing to reflect what manufacturers need out of their employees. And, despite popular ideas of a machine takeover, employees are more desperately needed in manufacturing now than ever. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are exciting breakthroughs in technology, but even these options are severely lacking in some ways. A machine can only do what it’s programmed and designed to do whereas innovation requires creativity, which can only be found in people. While many manufacturers already recognize this, job seekers may not.
Those who are not well versed in manufacturing may still think of the industry as a largely repetitive, dreary environment to work in. Popular opinion has not changed to reflect the modernization of the manufacturing factory floor. Innovation in manufacturing requires a mix of creativity and technical knowledge. Familiarity with technology is frequently found in younger job seekers, meaning that manufacturers must make an effort to adapt hiring practices that focus on this generation.
More is definitely not always better, especially when it comes to manufacturing. There’s an optimal amount of product that falls somewhere between too little and too much, but rarely hits the ideal amount on the head. Using technology in production operations management significantly helps in this area. Digital trends enable lean manufacturing practices, which significantly reduce waste. Timing is everything here, from when supplies come in, to when products come off the line, to when they’re shipped. The longer the product sits in the warehouse, the worse off the manufacturer is.
Digital trends put the pedal to the metal when it comes to manufacturing processes. Robotics and 3D printing allow products to be make at a much faster rate. If the changes in your industry also come rapidly, automation is the way to adapt. One company has a fully automated plant capable of producing customized products or completely new product lines without the line having to stop.1
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Automation is one way to speed up the rate at which products are made, but simply making the product is only one part of the manufacturing process. The above-mentioned supplies need to be held to certain standards, as do the process of making the product and when the products go out. It’s simple to say that digital advancements make life easier, but it’d be more accurate to say that they can make life easier. Getting them to do that is trickier than it sounds. Most manufacturing factory floors use paper-based processes. Even if they’ve achieved partial automation, they haven’t been able to completely get rid of paper.
Some software solutions can solve this problem by completely eliminating paper from the equation. Besides providing digital production records, manufacturers should also look for solutions that increase manufacturing excellence by providing solutions for equipment calibration and maintenance. The best way to handle regulatory requirements and get product out the door faster is to invest in a software solution that can handle all of your processes – from training those new employees to keeping track of suppliers to improving data integrity. Integrating all of your business processes so that they use the same solution platform provides a level of connectivity that expedites those processes and makes compliance simpler.