The manufacturing industry is the fifth largest employer in the U.S. And is an exciting industry that does incredible things. Due to this, it has experienced rapid growth over the last few decades.
Yet despite its strengths, manufacturing faces immense challenges. To be successful in 2022, organizations must overcome these obstacles to succeed in the years to come.
Here are four issues the manufacturing sector faces today:
1. The manufacturing industry skills gap
The growing skills gap is one of U.S. businesses’ biggest manufacturing challenges.Due to its ageing workforce, the U.S. manufacturing sector needs highly skilled, younger workers. (Approximately 22% of existing skilled manufacturing workers will retire by the end of 2025.)
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough workers to fill these roles. According to the Manufacturing Institute, there could be two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025.
Yet the manufacturing sector’s size means companies need more skilled workers now than ever.
So how can the manufacturing sector tackle this growing skills gap?
Here are four possible solutions:
Create educational institutions partnerships
Partnering with schools and colleges can ensure more young people are aware of the benefits of a career in manufacturing. More and more manufacturing companies have been doing this. Case in point: 32% of Generation Z has had a manufacturing career suggested to them, compared to only 18% of Millennials.
Allow flexible ways of working.
As the average age of retirement edges higher, working from home can help older workers continue to perform their tasks without the added effort of commuting and internal networking. Manufacturers can improve the quality of an job opportunity by offering flexible working package. Flexible working packages can include work remotely and flexible shift patterns.
Upskill existing lower-skilled employees.
Companies can encourage a culture of learning with in-house mentoring and training programs. Creating a learning culture will help you optimize your talent. Moving people into new roles within the company as they gain the necessary skills.
To ensure an employee’s new role is an excellent behavioural fit, use The Predictive Index to create a behavioural Job Target for the employee, then compare it to the employee’s Reference Profile. Why does the behavioural job fit matter? When a person’s a fit for their job, they’re more likely to be engaged and go the extra mile!
Internships and on-the-job training programs.
Having an internship program and promoting on-the-job training can entice millennials and Gen Xers in other industries to move into manufacturing jobs.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to bridging the manufacturing skills gap. Instead, intelligent manufacturers will implement a multi-pronged approach to the issue.
2. Stock and supply chain management
Managing your supply chain and inventory is crucial to any manufacturing business. As companies look to ramp up production, they also need better, more agile manufacturing processes. As such, manufacturers have begun embracing the need for digital transformation.
Inventory management is a common problem in the manufacturing industry. Holding too little inventory can hurt both profits and the relationship with customers. Keeping too much stock can be costly to store and difficult to sell. So investing in the right software and processes to track and manage inventory can save manufacturers time and money.
Real-time tracking enables manufacturers to monitor and manage the flow of raw materials. It also lets them track work in process and finished products. This level of insight means companies can prevent inventory issues by intervening at the first sign of a problem.
The impact of supply chain problems has become topical in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Many manufacturers source parts from China—most notably computer and electronic components. And these companies are already feeling the sting of the supply chain disruption.
Digital transformation can support more agile importing and supply chain management. And through dual-sourcing, companies can reduce their reliance on one supplier for raw materials. These steps can reduce manufacturers’ exposure to the risk of supply chain interruptions.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet of things creates a world of opportunity for consumers and manufacturers. Fitness trackers and smart home devices are top-rated, and the market for these devices is still growing. Consumers expect to be able to control appliances like fire alarms, doorbells, and refrigerators with their smartphones.
The IoT provides exciting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers regarding health and medical devices. Continuous glucose monitors are one example. These items use the industrial Internet of Things to let people monitor and manage their diabetes through a smartphone app.
Aside from consumer devices, the Internet of Things has created opportunities for manufacturing industry companies. Connected devices on the shop floor let manufacturers collect real-time data. They even allow companies to complete remote machine diagnostics and repairs.
Manufacturers who want to stay ahead must identify how to use IoT. Used well, it can help manufacturers maximize efficiency and meet operational targets. The ability to collect a lot of data is enticing. But data can become less valuable without a strategy to analyze and act upon it.
4. Incorporating robotics and automation in the manufacturing industry
Automating production lines can help manufacturing industry companies produce more in less time. But implementing automation and bearing the upfront cost of robotics poses specific challenges. The good news is the benefits more than outweigh those challenges.
Efficiency on the shop floor is crucial for manufacturers. By implementing robotics and automation, companies can increase production rates. They can also reduce safety risks, improve product quality, and increase customer satisfaction.
Customers expect high-quality, reliable products at increasingly reduced costs. The best way to achieve this is with automation.
Automation is also valid in the strategy to reduce the manufacturing skills gap. Automation will replace many low-skilled tasks. Upskilling employees that perform low-skilled jobs can increase. Automation allows companies to perform more complex functions while easing employee fears about new technologies.
5. Manufacturing industries need to prepare for a new age
Ultimately, the manufacturing industry’s common problems are opportunities to strengthen the sector. These problems are fascinating, as they provide opportunities for employers to enrich their employment proposition.
Manufacturing has a long and rich history as a vital part of western economies. The manufacturing sector adapts to changes and overcomes challenges. Over the next decade, it’s the organizations willing to meet these challenges head-on that will not only survive but thrive.