The manufacturing industry faced many uncertainties in the past year due to the pandemic. The supply chain has been shaken by turmoil and market volatility, and the need to adapt is immediate. 2020 SYSPRO research has shown that thisNS 60% of businesses have been affected by supply chain disruptions during the pandemic. Companies were unable to operate at the same level of efficiency because they were facing operational shortcomings and the growing need for remote collaboration.
The pandemic has led to many shifts in manufacturing including new challenges to be overcome. Legacy systems are being challenged by new players, and legacy companies are reinventing themselves to better meet the needs of their customers. Industries face the need to plan new strategies and increase investment in technology to gain a stronger foothold.
Below is a list of challenges and solutions for manufacturers to remain resilient and maintain growth momentum.
1. Transition to B2B e-commerce
We live in a time when we can buy almost anything with the click of a button. Ecommerce platforms are now ubiquitous in the B2C space. The ease they offer in managing services or products leads those in the B2B space to consider the missed opportunity. So a B2B e-commerce strategy is becoming increasingly necessary for manufacturing companies that want to sell their products better or buy the components needed to manufacture them. By creating a B2B e-commerce system, manufacturers provide greater flexibility, better inventory management, and reduced potential for human error. In fact, SYSPRO research shows that 67% of companies with the ability to initiate digital strategies such as e-commerce, digital supply chains and remote work can continue to trade effectively during the pandemic.
With the advent of digital transformation, manufacturers can use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to implement their e-commerce strategies. With a single global point of contact, companies can have complete visibility of inventory levels along with backend systems to handle purchasing policy changes, sourcing, distribution and lead time planning as well as analytics that provide real-time data to support enhanced decision making.
2. Maintain competitive advantage
Manufacturing has remained incredibly analog in terms of service, and the pandemic has revealed that it hasn’t been as agile as it should have been. By relying on manual processes and outdated systems, manufacturers simply could not respond quickly enough to industry disruptions and customer demands. In a research study led by SYSPRO, 37% of companies agreed that their business systems lack basic planning tools that can adapt to daily changes in the environment.
During the pandemic, niche players who can meet immediate customer needs due to their ability to leverage emerging technologies and appropriate capabilities to compete in the market have maintained a competitive advantage. Manufacturers now need to understand the market more than ever and replace systems to improve visibility of critical data, increase productivity, reduce waste, lower production costs, enable greater quality control and improve management of schedules and production rates. Having an accurate and real-time view of stock levels will provide an added advantage. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can support this by allowing companies to analyze projected demand, accurately forecast production targets and meet demand levels.
3. Leverage analytics and predictive data for decision making
The manufacturing industry was not prepared for the pandemic. Through our research, 29% of companies felt that their business systems did not provide them with the availability and accessibility to manage the changes introduced by the pandemic and predict future developments.
With the increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT), the manufacturing industry is facing difficulties in collecting and analyzing data. While many organizations may already have smart machines on their store floor, they lack the systems to extract and analyze the data these systems capture. This forces manufacturers to miss quality. Therefore, manufacturers face an urgent need to improve data mining capabilities to improve real-time decisions. In fact, 46% of companies in our 2020 study felt their systems lacked the necessary insights to respond to change. Instead, they relied on disparate systems and required manual interventions.
The adoption of ERP systems makes it easier to take advantage of the deluge of data that comes from connected sensors in its factories, inventories, raw materials, and from signals along the supply chain. By extracting actionable intelligence from new and existing data sources to predict future trends and behaviors, manufacturers can make smarter business decisions when it comes to machine maintenance, supply chain optimization, the quality of goods produced, and when consumers receive orders. Instead of getting off on a “gut feeling,” manufacturers can take advantage of KPIs to make useful decisions.
Manufacturers need to move away from old technologies and processes and harness the benefits of new solutions to meet the challenges of the digital age and stay resilient in a post-pandemic world. Digital transformation provides an opportunity to make informed decisions, respond to challenges in real time, and take advantage of market opportunities.