Being Ready for the Future Now: 6 Ways Manufacturing Businesses Can Upgrade an Antiquated Industry

The manufacturing industry is one area that can run the risk of being left behind amidst the developments in the modern world. If you are looking to improve your business to keep up with modern trends, you must be ready for the future now. What are the things that your manufacturing business should do to get ready?  

Prioritize People

Many businesses are looking at the technology front as the key modifier of business development in the next decade. There are, undoubtedly, many areas that require businesses to prepare including digitization. The topic of Industry 4.0, which is defined as the digitization of manufacturing, is spoken of a lot, but we must also remember that it’s not just about data and information in relation to technology, but it’s about making sure that our people are a priority. 

The pandemic was a lesson in why people are so important. Huge swathes of factories shut down or greatly reduced their operations. The manufacturing industry took a major hit because of COVID-19. Unfortunately, many businesses have gone back to exhibiting that myopic approach to doing business, thinking that as long as people are present and doing the work, the company can make massive alterations and do whatever they want. 

People are the secret weapon. They provide extreme value within the manufacturing industry. While companies start to embed technology, you must look to reskill your employees so they can push your business further forward.

Create Adaptive Supply Chains

Many manufacturers have learned from the pandemic and managed to transform their supply chains in the process to manage the highs and lows. Resilient supply chains are Critical for any manufacturing business, but we need to implement responsive ones. Digitization has long been heralded as the key to upgrading supply chains, most notably in supply chain management software, but it’s a lot more complex than this. Manufacturers need to see where the biggest challenges are in the supply chain and focus their efforts accordingly.

Use Data to Drive Decision Making

Data is still a key driver of innovation. It should be at the heart of every decision you make, but many longstanding organizations have struggled to gain a real understanding of other data because of a need to keep afloat, for example, through mergers and acquisitions. When we gain insight into the lifecycle of a product, we can learn everything underpinning its usage. When we understand why, when, and how customers use products, this will foster a loyal customer base and tap into a greater level of efficiency.

Respond to an Unreliable Market

Many companies are undoubtedly praying that a catastrophic event like COVID-19 won’t happen again, but we’ve seen the war in Ukraine driving up the costs of raw materials, which has had a major impact on revenue streams. Becoming more responsive to an unreliable market is all in building a leaner and more efficient operation, but we need to make decisions better and prioritize change. 

As easy as it can be to become set in our ways, ensuring we keep our ear to the ground and fine-tune our infrastructure will help us to develop a more holistic approach to managing a business. Lean methodologies like Kanban have long been touted as a solution to being a more holistic business, perhaps now is the perfect opportunity to embed tactics that allow you to respond to changes beneath your feet, while also maintaining a higher level of productivity.

Embrace Fresh Talent

There are the current employees, but there’s also the future of your business that will need dynamic and resourceful employees to fill in skills gaps. While we’re seeing the baby boomer generations retiring, this is not just due to age, but more of a reaction towards the digitization of the modern world. There’s that sense that many longstanding employees can feel left behind. Reskilling or upskilling our employees are critical, but we also need to look at what the skills gaps will be a few years down the line. 

The Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are two components that are causing businesses to quake in their boots, but it doesn’t need to be like this. If we have an understanding that we can use fresh talent to upgrade our existing talent, this can help you to reposition yourself as a more innovative business. Learning to appeal to the next generation of talent is partly about your culture. Individuals will look at a business as a place that can add meaning to their lives, rather than just a place to use their skills.

Challenge the Status Quo

Manufacturing is a very traditional industry and continues to stick to antiquated notions. The problem with having archaic methods of working is that it filters into the employees and drives a wedge between the old and the new; you won’t have new employees come to you, but your older employees will also be resistant to change. There needs to be a gradual handover and this can be partly conveyed in how you challenge traditional notions of thinking. 

It is tough for business leaders to bring about innovation when something has been effective over a number of years, or even decades. There can be that pressure akin to a soccer manager to turn a team’s fortunes around in a very short time frame. However, it should be an inbuilt aspect of our thinking that we challenge the norms. Transforming a business will always result in roadblocks, and therefore you will have to become more agile and embrace new partnerships or get closer to your customers. Because the manufacturing industry is process-driven and these processes are broken down into numerous parts it can be tough to see the bigger picture, but this is why, if we are to start bigger-picture thinking now and look at not just how the industry will change in the next decade, but how the world will change, gives us a far better understanding of what we can do. If you want to be ready for the future now, you will need to consider some of the above components.