The manufacturing industry hosts some of the most technology-reliant businesses out there. Unfortunately, this technology isn’t always as modern as it could (or should) be. The mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” leads to older, tried-and-true methods and technologies continuing to drive many businesses forward.
In many ways, this makes a lot of sense, but there are also plenty of reasons that this isn’t a perpetuating strategy. Let’s talk about some technology solutions that can push your manufacturing company ahead of the competition.
If the big players in the industry are adopting a technology solution, you absolutely want to do the same. There’s generally a reason that a business adopts a solution, and if the majority of your industry seem to be making a change, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s more than a passing fad.
Many businesses have also gone on the record to state that they plan to make advancements. A 2013 survey saw 78 percent of its respondents predicting a need for their businesses to achieve digital transformation within two years… and that was almost five years ago. On top of that, 63 percent of these respondents clocked their technology changes as too slow - most citing a “lack of urgency” as their major obstacle to change.
Assuming that manufacturers do, in fact, subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke…” philosophy, it would be reasonable to assume that these stats have remained reasonably consistent up to today. However, by continuing to use older technologies and putting off digital transformation, these businesses haven’t done themselves any favors either.
As we said, the survey results indicated that there was a simple lack of urgency within many of the participating businesses to put these improvements into place. Now, the information available didn’t specify if this lack was demonstrated primarily in company leadership, in the workforce, or dispersed throughout all levels. Here, we’ll assume that you are reading this from a business leader’s perspective, and are trying to improve your technology - despite mild pushback and resistance from your staff.
It is important to remember that any change in your business, whether it’s cultural, procedural, or otherwise, is going to come from the top (or, in other words, you). This means that you have to set the example and walk the walk as you ask your employees to do likewise.
Granted, this isn’t always easy in the manufacturing space (who wants to change what they’ve been doing for years upon years?), but there are other ways to help promote the use of new solutions in the workspace. For instance, it doesn’t hurt to listen to your employees and help them make the adjustment to a new system. We can help you implement technology that is easy to use and intuitive, helping your staff get on-board with the change a little faster.
3-D Printing - Not surprising to see, 3-D printing and additive layer manufacturing is having a big impact across many industries. It’s an amazing technology for producing low-cost physical mockups, and many businesses are even using it to print production-quality parts.
Industrial Internet of Things - Many people think small when they think about the Internet of Things. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart home devices come to mind. For manufacturers, IoT can add real-time monitoring, resource optimization, device control, resource optimization, and supply-chain visibility to keep management in touch with all of the moving parts in their organization.
Access Control - For the safety and security of your staff, and to protect your own assets, being able to control the access an individual has to certain areas of your facilities can prevent a lot of headache later. Being able to review and manage door locks, set schedules, and getting access reports can remove risk and take guesswork out of situations that go awry.
Big Data Analytics - No matter what business you are in, you always want to streamline your processes, and manufacturing is no exception. More than half of American manufacturers are already investing in services that allow them to make informed choices based on massive amounts of data.
This data can also be incorporated into machine learning, leading to effective automation of mundane tasks and processes.
Virtual Reality - A couple years ago, I would have told you it was far-fetched that the novelty of VR would leak into business and actually innovate how we work. Today, however, manufacturers can use VR to digitally create and showcase designs.
Inventory, Asset Tracking, Shipping, and Communication - Although we’re lumping several ideas into one, they all play a role in getting your product out the door. Innovations such as GPS, QR/barcodes, RFID tags, and NFC chips can all make tracking inventory and assets easier and more automated, and having the software in place to manage the movement of items throughout your facility and all the way out to the client can make sure nothing gets missed. On top of that, being able to convey inventory and statuses to your clients can go a long way in building trusted, long-term relationships. Just look at how effectively online stores like Amazon communicate, and how it builds loyal returning customers.
There is a considerable difference between an IT consultant and one who serves more exclusively as a service provider. Think of the two almost like a prototype and a finished product. Could the prototype get the job done? Potentially, yes, but there isn’t going to be much refinement to it - it’ll be a cookie-cutter result. Alternatively, the finished product has undergone testing and refining, considering how it could be improved for the user and adjustments made.
With an IT consultant, you’re going with a tested and proven provider that takes your needs into consideration - potentially saving your business considerable time and money and helping you explore new avenues.
At KT Connections, we can help you implement new technologies and ensure that you have all of the infrastructure in place when it comes time to invest in new solutions for your business.
Interested in learning more? See what else we offer manufacturers, and once you’ve done that, talk to us about it! Reach out to us at 605-341-3873.