From pandemics to trade wars to actual wars, manufacturing has seen its share of problems over the past few years! The reality is every manufacturer is struggling with many of the same problems.
Framing every problem would be impossible in one article. However, based on the current manufacturing trends, we'll go over five major challenges every manufacturer faces today.
Keep reading to see the manufacturing challenges and how some companies are finding solutions.
1) Supplies and Tools
Supply chain issues have gotten a lot of press over the past couple of years for good reason. Inventories are at critically low levels after the pandemic and unrest in the world is causing new problems.
Many manufacturers are moving from a "just in time" concept to a more balanced approach for supplies. They are looking at ways of having more inventory in place for the near future.
This has caused a need for more storage and warehouse space. This could be a place where companies share space and costs. By working together, they can have less costly storage to help hold expenses down.
The supply problem has also caused a lack of quality tools for the industry. A growing number of toolmakers are based outside of the US and this along with aging domestic toolmakers has caused shortages. At the same time, many tool manufacturers are looking at bringing production back domestically.
This would be a benefit, but the costs of doing that will be large. Manufacturers would be wise to partner globally with toolmakers to try and work together to solve these problems.
Of course, having a committed stream of customers would help tool makers be able to make the moves.
2) Manufacturing Challenges With Skills
Automation has helped solve some of the labor issues, but the reality of finding skilled workers is a problem for manufacturers. Many factors are contributing like the retirement of former highly skilled workers and the lack of qualified candidates.
Retention of current employees has become the most important part of having the skilled workers you need. Companies are offering more benefits and pay along with upgrading facilities to keep current workers happy.
Along with this, many companies are trying to focus on upgrading the skills of current employees. Paying for new certifications and offering help paying for school has helped some companies build a stronger workforce.
Companies have also focused on other creative means to find good candidates. Online recruiting is an easy way to connect with a large audience of potential candidates.
Companies are also investing more into their brand and image to help them appeal to younger workers. Videos and testimonials on your website could be a big part of why someone seeks employment at your site.
Some companies are also partnering with community colleges to sponsor training for candidates. For many years, Bead Electronics has been supporting scholarships and programs for local community colleges and their advanced manufacturing technology centers. Others are looking at unique pools of candidates to recruit from.
People with special needs and those who have been incarcerated offer a bigger pool for companies to recruit from. These candidates often have a hard time getting jobs and giving them a break often earns their loyalty and is a service to society.
3) Perception of Roles
The perception that manufacturing and the jobs in it are a man's world still lives today. Many companies have a hard time getting female candidates to apply because of these old perceptions.
Companies are attacking this perception head-on by promoting female candidates into important roles. They are also using media to show how women are an important player in manufacturing today.
This is something that must be done deliberately to help overcome the negative stigma. Qualified female candidates need to understand and see how manufacturing jobs benefit from their skill set.
4) Technological Gap
The quantum leaps of technology have caught many small to mid-level manufacturers unprepared. They are often using older legacy systems and don't want to upgrade to new technology.
Older technology is full of security risks that can be taken advantage of by hackers. Having technology that works does not mean that the technology is safe.
Newer layers of security are needed to protect your company's data. Plus, many cloud computing platforms can work more economically and more efficiently than older software.
Technological training is also more necessary with the greater risks. The majority of cyberattacks come through employees getting fooled by phishing scams.
When a manufacturer has older technology, it will be harder for them to appeal to a younger worker. Millennial workers are much more tech-savvy and the lack of technology often causes them to look elsewhere for work.
At the same time, your company's technology can be a big part of how you reach out to new workers.
A new Bead Electronics milling center expands capabilities in fine pitch hard milling enabling custom, production tooled parts delivered in half the time.
5) Manufacturing's Public Perception
One of the biggest issues facing manufacturers is the public perception that so many people have of sweatshops from the movies when they think of manufacturing companies.
This perception has to be dispelled and each company must do it through better education. People need to see how today's modern manufacturers function.
Climate-controlled plants with cutting-edge automated solutions are more common than people think. Companies should highlight this aspect of their process. This will help change their image and appeal to new prospects.
The manufacturing industry has many well-paid positions that the public often doesn't realize are there. Companies can help change people's perceptions by being open about the pay and benefits they offer.
Take Advantage of Manufacturing Trends
Manufacturing challenges exist but even in the midst of them, manufacturing is growing. The push for more domestic manufacturers could be a big boom for many companies in the USA.
Bead Electronics manufactures custom end-to-end, wire, and hollow contact pins. Our passion for manufacturing has been part of our DNA since we were founded in 1914.
Contact us about your manufacturing needs and see how we can help. We also excel at partnering with other manufacturers to see how our industry can improve and grow.