In manufacturing, the more efficient and productive your operation, the more profitable it will be. Enhancements to processes in the ‘90s and early 2000s made major gains in productivity, but lately, it’s stalled, despite reinvestments in equipment and software. Labor productivity grew less than 1% between 2007 and 2019. In the past five years, there has been no net average growth at all.
What is the cause of this? Why aren’t manufacturers moving forward?
The Resistance to Technology in Manufacturing Industry
On the shop floor, workers are used to doing things a certain way. They are reluctant to make changes. But doing things manually will just keep things at the status quo. With rising costs for raw materials and products, that won’t cut it anymore. To make progress, new technology in the manufacturing industry must be adopted.
Companies resist implementing tech that can help them grow for a variety of reasons. They may fear that the implementation will be too difficult or disruptive to the operations. It may be overwhelming for the staff or drive them away. In today’s challenging labor market, it’s tough to replace employees.
Organizations may also worry that any gains from implementing new technology won’t outweigh the trouble. In other words, they aren’t convinced that the technology will truly make them more efficient or productive.
Technology in Manufacturing Industry: More Productive Manufacturing
There may also be concerns about the upfront costs in a manufacturing facility to retool. Most companies find that there is a reasonable ROI when it comes to enabling digital solutions. Here are common technologies being put in place:
- Shop floor automation
- Work order management
- Quality control
- Audit trails
- Capacity planning
- Equipment utilization
These provide managers with data to track processes and make data-driven decisions.
How Bluestreak™ Can Help
All these technologies need a robust infrastructure to optimize the technology in manufacturing industry. Here are just a few ways that Bluestreak™ can help you prepare for the future.
End-to-end control—from quoting to invoicing, maintenance, production tracking, and real-time customer portal access—creates a structured audit trail to track jobs throughout the production cycle. This eliminates information silos by providing a fully extensible and audit-compliant Quality Management System (QMS). All your critical production documentation is available whenever you need it, with full visibility across all departments.
Bluestreak™ provides total end-to-end control throughout the manufacturing lifecycle. We excel at handling advanced quality initiatives for aerospace, automotive, and medical organizations. You can even use Bluestreak™ to connect directly to customer ERP systems and effectively become their captive department for the services you provide.
Captive departments are typically incorporated into a manufacturing company and provide specific services to parts being produced. Examples are heat treating, AM/3D printing, powder/liquid coating, plating, various metal treatments, etc. These departments usually have detailed processing instructions that can’t be provided by the company’s ERP system.
Departments may also be able to sell excess capacity on the commercial market. This requires the ability to create invoices separate from an ERP resource. Bluestreak™ has all the capabilities needed by captives and can be integrated with your internal ERP system.
Captives have primarily the same requirements as their commercial job shop counterparts. The main difference is that many have one customer: their corporate “parent.” They still need to have detailed processing instructions, track the parts, easily access and follow company and quality procedures, collect quality data, and produce. They also need documentation to support their quality accreditations, calibrate machines, and train employees.
Bluestreak™ can be set up as a single department solution, either separate or connected to the ERP system.
Bluestreak MES I QMS™ is a control system to manage and monitor work on the shop floor. It tracks information in real time by receiving data from machines and team members. Although MES has typically been used as a self-contained system, it is increasingly being integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) software.
The MES improves productivity and reduces cycle time by lowering the total time it takes to produce an order. By integrating an MES with ERP/MRP software, factory managers can be proactive about ensuring the delivery of quality products in a timely, cost-effective manner.
The Time Is Now
When it comes to making technology changes to your manufacturing operation, the time is now.
There are three pillars in manufacturing: cost, quality, and productivity. These have been constant over time, while the tools we use to impact them are constantly evolving. As we shifted from manual labor to machines/technology, costs were reduced while quality and productivity improved. Adapting to today’s technology can do the same while preparing us for a better future.
There is an urgency in all this as well. A specific issue for the manufacturing industry as a whole is an aging workforce. As senior employees retire, their knowledge base and skills can be lost. Technology allows us to use the information they possess and replicate it in processes and systems before losing it forever. It can also help with training the next generation of workers.
Automation and technology can make us more efficient. In many cases, it can also help reduce labor costs, which is especially crucial in today’s critical shortage of workers.
The Bottom Line
Business consulting firm McKinsey states that we’ve entered a new era of automation in manufacturing that is transforming factory floors, employment, and the economics of manufacturing sectors. Rapid advances are creating new efficiencies that can lead to unprecedented productivity. In fact, studies show that nearly 87% of the hours performed by workers may be candidates for automation. Think about what that could do for your labor costs!
If you’re ready to leave manual, time-consuming service-based manufacturing tasks in the past, drastically reduce your scrap and rework percentage, gain visibility of your production floor processes, and build better relationships with your customers, contact us for a free consultation today!