As the economy rebounds from 2020, the market faces new challenges that seem to compound with each day. The manufacturing industry in particular faces an uneasy future, with growing demand on manufactured goods and steepening skilled work gaps.
But the good news is that with every problem, there is a solution. Here are some of the largest challenges the manufacturing industry faces today, and some suggestions on what you can do to tackle them.
Bridging the Skilled Work Gap
One major manufacturing roadblock is employment. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers revealed that 62% of manufacturers believe that their primary challenge is “retaining a quality workforce”. In fact, if this challenge persists, there will be more than 2 million open manufacturing jobs in the United States by 2030. Not only are these positions sitting unfilled, but many seasoned manufacturing workers are retiring from the workforce altogether. As they leave, they take decades worth of knowledge and experience with them.
Every company’s workforce is unique, so the methods for finding the right talent to build your employee base will vary. That said, some companies are approaching the skilled labor gap by offering opportunities for their current workers to grow. Others have asked their more experienced workers to train entry-level employees to take over their roles when they retire.
Another option to consider is technology. Even companies that do not have profound workforce gaps lean into warehouse automation to improve efficiency. Productivity tools like RFID and barcode systems take on the time-consuming, monotonous tasks for your employees, enabling them to take on other tasks. There will be more on that a bit later!
Fast and Accurate Quality Control
The demand for manufactured goods is steadily climbing, placing added emphasis on fast quality assurance and control. Yet quality control is a difficult and labor-intensive task if done by hand. Coupled with workforce shortages, quality control can severely slow down your operations if it is not automated in some way.
You don’t have to sacrifice quality for quantity. With machine vision and barcoding technology, you get both. Machine vision learns how your products ought to look. Say goodbye to manual checks: fixed industrial scanners capture images and scans of your products as they go down the production line and analyze them for flaws. If it’s not up to snuff, the technology will alert you to take it off the line. Using fixed industrial scanners on your production line ensures your customers get the best quality in a timely manner.
Two persistent workflow issues are manual data entry and downtime. You may be surprised to hear that there are companies who are still documenting their cycle counts with pen and paper. Or you’re nodding your head because your company does this! We get it, that was the most effective method of tracking in the past and it was relatively easy to implement. That said, manual data entry increases the chance of human error and inaccurate data. It also takes time and effort to complete.
Speaking of time, how long does it take your employees to find the assets they need to complete their tasks? Even if it’s a 10-minute search here and there, those stretches of downtime add up. It eats away at your overall productivity, burns through your labor wages, and takes up time: all of which are best to avoid. Both of these workflow issues feed off each other.
Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technology helps on both fronts. Scanning a barcode is at least 100 times faster than taking down information by hand. Plus, it’s more accurate: Companies that use barcodes enjoy a 99.9% accuracy rate! With fast, accurate data collection, your workers don’t have to spend nearly as much time taking inventory, freeing them up to work on other important tasks.
A proper AIDC system helps your workers quickly recover misplaced assets, too. RFID is a particularly helpful way of keeping track because it automatically tracks tagged items on your site and documents their last known locations. That way, if one of your employees does end up misplacing an asset, they can quickly locate it. Minimize downtime even further by encoding maintenance information on your tags.
Of all the challenges your manufacturing business faces today, AIDC shouldn’t be one of them. Our AB&R specialists are ready to create solutions to address your company’s needs. Reach out today for solutions that bring quality to the forefront of your operations.
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