The manufacturing industry is enthusiastic about its future, with growth anticipated until 2024–25, despite the numerous hurdles brought on by the pandemic, governmental reforms, tariffs, climate shifts, and more. According to recent analysis by Interact Analysis, the global manufacturing sector’s output would increase by 4% in 2022. Although the future seems bright, the manufacturing industry still is not immune of the manufacturing challenges as we leap into the new year. From supply chain disruptions and rising costs, to the integration of new technologies and the impact of global trade tensions, manufacturers must be prepared to adapt and innovate in order to stay competitive. In this blog, we will explore 13 operational challenges in the manufacturing industry faced by enterprises in the coming year along with their possible solutions.
Global manufacturing operations can face language barriers that hinder effective communication, leading to errors, delays, and reduced productivity. According to a report by SHRM, language barriers have been cited by OSHA as a contributing factor in as many as 25% of workplace accidents.
AR-based remote visual support, work instructions, and training can help overcome language barriers by providing visual cues and guidance that are language-agnostic. Instead of relying on verbal instructions or written manuals, AR technology can help create step-by-step instructions and highlight key areas on equipment or machinery, making it easier for workers to understand and follow procedures. This can be particularly useful in situations where workers speak different languages or have varying degrees of proficiency. For example, a factory in Japan may have workers who speak Japanese, English, and Mandarin, but AR-based work instructions can provide visual cues that are universally understood, reducing communication barriers and improving safety and efficiency.
Equipment downtime can be a major challenge for global manufacturing operations, leading to decreased productivity, increased costs, and delays in production. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, unplanned downtime can cost manufacturers up to $260,000 per hour. This can be due to equipment breakdowns, maintenance issues, or human error.
By using AR technology, technicians can access detailed instructions, schematics, and diagnostic tools, reducing the time needed to identify and fix issues. Additionally, remote assistance allows experts to guide on-site personnel through repairs and maintenance tasks, reducing downtime and improving equipment efficiency. This can be particularly useful in situations where skilled personnel are not readily available on-site or when equipment is located in remote areas.
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Shortage of Skilled Workforce
The manufacturing sector is facing a major manpower shortfall as a skilled generation begins to retire. There will be between 2 million and 3.5 million unfilled industrial jobs by 2025. The introduction of new technologies has reduced the demand for people in industrial companies. They do, however, require personnel with a variety of abilities. Certain manufacturing-related tasks have been mechanized. Industry-wide, machine sensors are already commonplace. They are used to gather a great deal of information. With this kind of innovation, the industry’s work structure is changing.
Companies today demand individuals with cutting-edge technical skill sets. They require people who are good at arithmetic and have an analytical mind. With the rise of innovation, the once-welcomed need for a workforce that is untrained and trainable is gradually waning. Manufacturers can easily train on the job and save money thanks to advancements in augmented reality. Workers who are not completely trained in a particular task can receive real-time guidance and directions from AR based visual remote assistance. As a result, fewer highly skilled individuals may be required for particular activities, and less skilled workers may be given the opportunity to gain experience.
Efficiency of Manufacturing Plants
Up until now, manufacturers have been seeking for doable ways to lower costs and boost productivity in their operations. Many of them prefer to reduce product quality in order to save production expenses, but doing so will only hurt their profitability because customers who aren’t satisfied will quit buying. Manufacturing revolutions are the key to everything. Every stage of the procedure, every input and output, advances from the raw materials to the finished good.
AR solutions can revolutionize manufacturing training and upskilling, benefiting businesses and workers alike. With digital AR work instructions, businesses can scale their training to meet their needs, whether they’re training an individual, a factory, or an entire enterprise. Furthermore, an AR solution for training can help organizations switch from training an individual to training a large group, making it easy to adapt to any situation. Best of all, these programs are inclusive, catering to people of all skill levels, whether they have little manufacturing experience or decades of know-how. AR-based remote assistance can enable experts to guide on-site personnel through repairs and maintenance tasks, reducing downtime and costs.
In order to improve efficiency, businesses are adopting to augmented reality for extending the abilities of the existing workforce and making the most of their experts.
Disruption of the Supply Chain
Supply chain interruptions are one of the manufacturing industry’s main problems now and in the near future. Since inventories are at their lowest points in decades, some goods can’t even be manufactured right now. Domestic production has had difficulty as well. Examples include the production of food, the use of electrical devices, and the supply of building materials. The building industry has been hit by the shortage of lumber and the demand for steel, and rising construction material costs have led some businesses to think twice before starting their expansion projects. But there are other things that manufacturers need to consider as well, like loan rates, prospective revenue losses, and more.
Supply chain weaknesses in the manufacturing industry were revealed by the ‘real time’ manufacturing mindset and low inventories. More warehouse space is needed as businesses with the financial resources consider going back to the days of building up inventories.
Although demand forecasting and information technology have made significant strides, most organizations still fail to factor inventory levels into their production planning processes. Choosing the appropriate forecasting methodology is frequently disregarded, and forecasting is held accountable. Today, many factories still struggle to predict upcoming demand. Their inability to estimate how many products they should sell in the upcoming months or years is their largest problem. They lack efficient monitoring mechanisms. As a result, their products don’t live up to customer expectations, which hurts revenue.
Even though it’s still one of the biggest problems facing the industrial sector, inventory management has gotten a lot simpler thanks to automated solutions. However, a lot of small manufacturers still manage their stocks by hand. Utilizing software helps speed up time-consuming chores like managing inventory. Manual stock checks are ineffective and prone to mistakes, which can lead to errors, shortages, excess, and unreported losses. Businesses are under a lot of pressure to constantly produce high-quality products that satisfy their clients’ needs. However, if a company has troubles managing inventory, it could lead to shortages and a number of other problems.
To overcome this, enterprises can utilize AR to give employees access to real-time information about inventory levels and the whereabouts of specific items, which will help to increase supply chain efficiency.
For manufacturers to get their items on the market, they must follow extremely demanding, constrained, and rigid deadlines. Every project on the production line must consider cost, time, and quality sensitivity. These projects consequently frequently exhibit rigidity and strict supervision. Manufacturers who miss the deadlines run a higher risk of losing financially in potential income and profit. Due to the rigidity and strict control, businesses have less flexibility to change the project’s scope as it progresses. The majority of projects require an early design commitment that is carried out. As new information or requirements for change arise, there is always less flexibility for adjustment. For a team that plans to produce high-quality products, proper supervision, even with a limited number of experts, is critical. Additionally, organizations can create digital work instructions for their workforce that can help them accomplishing work as expected.
Monitoring Sales Leads
Managing and analyzing sales leads is another issue that businesses frequently face. The majority of them manage their leads in the same manner, yet this is the wrong tactic. Each sales lead needs to be handled individually because they each have different personas, interests, and needs. Additionally, manufacturers frequently struggle to recognize potential leads, which causes them to focus on unimpressive possibilities and neglect to follow up with high-potential leads.
Effects of a Trade War
For all manufacturers, low earnings are a major concern. With ongoing trade wars, this might get worse. Trade conflicts today impact every industry area. Since completed goods and raw materials are sourced and marketed globally, manufacturing is not an exception. In the upcoming year, the sector is thinking about making tactical adjustments, mostly to the supply chain. They aim to lessen the effects of ongoing trade conflicts.
Being Technologically Aware
Innovating and deploying emerging technology is essentially necessary for any company, regardless of its sector of activity, because it supports how companies sell their products or provide services to their customers and the systems and technology that currently underpin business. Manufacturing faces the issue of adjusting to technological change. The true barriers to organizations adopting innovative technologies are:
- The corporate culture and the resistance of the workforce
- The lack of backing from the leadership group
- A vague project or one that is very complicated
- A deficiency in governance and openness in the outcomes reporting
- Teams don’t work together well enough.
- There are no established processes or procedures.
- forcing adoption or moving too slowly with adoption
- “Acquiring and adoption of technology” are at odds.
Consumers today are more concerned about the environment than ever before, and they expect the companies they patronize to share this care. Process manufacturers, especially those that work with chemicals, need to be conscious of the effects their materials have on the environment and actively look for ways to cut emissions and create eco-friendly products.
Users of internal systems are comparable to customers who favor self-service platforms over mobile devices. Internal users need modernized systems that can help them accomplish their jobs more effectively.
Modernized systems provide flexibility, better understanding, and speed. This enables employees to use applications to their advantage by completing jobs more effectively and efficiently. Instead of impeding work, the system offers an environment that encourages completion of tasks by employees.
A robust and resourceful sector of the economy, manufacturing is well-positioned to generate growth in international markets, which will be advantageous for the entire economy. The manufacturing sector contains a wide range of businesses, primarily major global corporations and local businesses that specialize in specialized products and services. Every company has its own unique success factors and paths, and this variety is a source of both strength and adaptability. There aren’t many solutions that can be utilized to encourage future development across the whole manufacturing industry, though, because of the large diversity of business models and inventions covered.
Through its AR products, Plutomen has been assisting manufacturing companies in going digital and overcoming the aforementioned difficulties. Our products help sectors like manufacturing greatly increase worker safety and productivity. Take a look at our AR-based products and request a demo today.