Any manufacturer knows quality raw materials are essential to crafting quality products. A woodworking company using cheap materials might save money in the short term, but the quality of their products would lead customers to look elsewhere.
While the technology in the plant isn’t a raw material, it is critical for every aspect of the manufacturing process – from concept to prototyping to production and delivery.
Budget consciousness is understandable for manufacturers but avoiding technology updates can cost you in quality, efficiency, security, safety and competitiveness.
You can end up undercutting your bottom-line the longer you try to keep going with outdated technology.
Software, workstations, servers, switches and cables all need to be kept up-to-date. Over the years technology improves and, as you chose not to stay current, your competitors are taking advantage of improvements in security, efficiency, profitability and customer acquisition.
Technology doesn’t always tell you directly when it needs to be updated. However, it does give you signs. Here are 5 indicators that your technology is hurting your manufacturing business.
1. There are concerns with quality and service
Even if the solution isn’t obvious, existing technology (or lack thereof) is very likely behind issues with your quality and service delivery. If there was a technology that reduced waste, made your customers happy enough to keep coming back and decreased your overhead, wouldn’t you want it? That’s exactly what updating your technology does. With quality and service concerns, technology is the most likely solution.
2. You’re stuck
When your technology hinders your growth and expansion, it’s better to act on it sooner rather than later. For example, if you are adding a new line of business and your existing software can’t accommodate it, you’ll need a new line-of-business application. It’s not always obvious what’s creating a roadblock. You might believe you can’t add more workstations because they’re all running slow and you think you’ve used up your bandwidth, when the reality is your workstations are outdated or your cabling is only allowing 1/10 of what updated cables could. If you’re stuck, bring in experts.
3. You can’t handle anything out of the ordinary
Oftentimes, it seems your technology is working just fine until you get an unusual order or have to do something out of the ordinary. For example, your order processing system’s business applications might process regular orders just fine, but struggle with unusual or exceptional ones. This is a strong indicator that your technology is not working for you.
4. Slow Speeds
Slow speeds are a chief indicator that your technology is dated and not working effectively for you. In manufacturing, where time is everything, your data needs to be processed at the same speed as your competitors. You might have switches that are slowing the flow of information, overcrowded servers, dated line-of-business applications or workstations or any number of issues causing slow speed. Speed is subjective, but with technology today it’s fair to say that if the speed of yours reminds you of the ’90s, it needs to be addressed.
5. You’re using Excel spreadsheets
Using spreadsheets and documents for order processing, tracking and creating reports is a sign you’ve outgrown your line-of-business application. Ideally, you’re using zero spreadsheets. One or two as an exception is tolerable, but any more than that is a red flag. A problem with manual processes is this: one data-entry error can have your company ordering 100,000 units of material instead of 10,000. Another is that these manual processes are tedious for your workforce and an inefficient time drain. There is likely more current technology that can automate these processes and reports for you.
Properly Planning Your New System
The direction you take with your technology depends on your goals and where you want to see your manufacturing business in the next 5 to 10 years. We recommend a managed IT services provider with specific manufacturing company experience, like Micro Visions.
Micro Visions can audit your existing technology, identify trouble spots and work within your budget to create a custom roadmap to:
- Increase the speed of your information flow
- Gain data accuracy
- Leverage automation and reduce manual processes
- Gain deeper insights and analytics
- Enhance quality control
- Acquire new lines of business
- Expand your footprint
- Increase efficiency
Ready to start building a strategic roadmap for your manufacturing company? Contact us online or call (616) 776-0400.