27 Feb Manufacturing Pains
How to look for the solution in disguise
By Jeff Da Silva | Business Solution Architect and Practice Lead for Nubik
As the leader of Nubik’s Commercial Solutions Architects Team, who is on the front lines helping businesses evaluate and think about technology, part of my job is listening to the pains experienced by the business. Our customers often feel those pains are unique to them. However, since we are in the field serving and advising many companies, we see common patterns of challenges emerging.
Thinking of difficulties may not seam to be a positive approach; nonetheless, it can be, according to the old saying that a problem is only a solution in disguise.
This blog post intends to share a few of the common pains encountered by our team within the manufacturing sector and how your organization may be able to redirect the conversation to a positive outcome.
My hope is that it enables you to take some action, not only to relieve the pain, but to understand the root of it. Start the conversation internally and seek experienced counsel to help you move forward.
Like a wise doctor once told me, once you understand your pain, you better understand yourself, what you do and what you need to be doing.
Three common manufacturing problems and ideas to consider to resolve.
The Labor Shortage
For more than two centuries, the manufacturing industry has adopted new technologies and provided new jobs for workers. Today, the industry is experiencing an exciting and exponential transformation, as technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are rapidly changing how people work. While some predicted that these new technologies would eliminate jobs, we are seeing the opposite: more jobs are actually being created as a result.
What should be done?
Businesses need to prioritize the evaluation and implementation of a system or application that is attractive to a new generation of workers and facilitates ramp up and training. It is possible to tap into the existing workforce’s knowledge to transfer some of their skills to the less experienced teams in order to leverage them within a training program. Set your sights on a system whose primary focus is user adoption, like Salesforce, and provides secondary feature-based checkpoints. If a feature is missing, there are more options today to fill the gap than ever before. It is ok to solve your problem piecemeal.
The advent of new technologies and automation implies that you need to consider a system that is user-friendly and holistic, which may not please the baby boomers who will soon be retiring from the workforce. Make sure that your project stakeholders are a mix of your current and future employees. Generation Z and the millennials are the first generations to have been raised with advanced technology, and consequently, they are much more apt to be able to handle all the information coming at them at the same time. Group them in teams!
The race to Industry 4.0
Some companies tell us and will even argue that corporations are meant to strive for profits above all else, and that generating revenue for shareholders is a company’s sole reason for existence. Yet, as the transformation to Industry 4.0 accelerates, a growing number of business leaders are starting to see a bigger picture and include wider responsibilities into their vision. The question remains however daunting, where do we start?
What should be done?
The bottom line is that manufacturers simply need to move forward and take into account the real-time integrations between their CRM, ERP and PLM systems, in order the reap more easily the greater benefits and outcomes promised by Industry 4.0. Visibility is key! It can lead to many other positive initiatives that you may be pondering, for example, sustainability.
The confidence of your organization can dramatically increase if you begin with a simple question: “How connected are my teams and my systems?”. Through no fault of your own, the success and growth of your company has relied for decades on teams and technologies designed and built to handle specific processes in a silo fashion. Take a moment, meet as a team and discuss how the needs of the customer, the one for whom you manufacture your products, could be better understood within your organization.
Leaders need to allow and enable everyone to play their part. This is an easy dialog you can launch internally, to then reach out to an experienced consultant with whom you will be sharing your ideas, rather then to just getting handed a template plan.
Attracting Qualified Leads
Manufacturers’ traditional marketing efforts are now proving far less effective than in the past. Trade shows, trade ads and cold calling are not yielding results like they used to. In the digital age, organizations need to do more than simply put up a website and hope that their best prospects will stumble across it. Today, people engage according to their personalities and will behave and reach out to you on their terms and on their own time.
What should be done?
Most professionals in this space will tell you they now resort to a simple five bullet point strategy, because everyone is surfing online and moving so fast that they need to capture their attention in a different way. What are those bullet points?
- Paid advertising
- Forms and landing pages
- Nurturing programs
- Reporting analytics
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself: “Can we expect a human to manage this? Are any of these items easily visible?” Mistaking correlation for causation can lead people to think that more traffic equals more revenue, but unfortunately, it is not that simple. Let’s not forget that studies have shown that most visitors land on your site to do research. That is all. More than ever before, there are now tools available that can make it easier to “follow” and “target” the activities that are more relevant to you. Do you have a system setup that allows you to do such things? One that makes it easier for the humans who perform these tasks to automate their marketing efforts and to target value-based leads based on a score or attribution of points. Don’t start with a list of 100 names and then work it. Start with a list of 100 names and learn something about each person on the list. The information is out there. When you know someone took a specific action, click on a link or choose an option on a form. You can then tweak your approach and make a difference right then and there.
Becoming an Industry 4.0 organization goes beyond technology. You will also need to reconsider your products, your business model, your personnel and your organisational culture. While developing your plan to become an Industry 4.0 manufacturer, you may find it useful to read our series of manufacturing blog posts.
Industry 4.0 can indeed become an ally for your company and power your business to new heights!