With every season come a unique set of challenges and difficulties for businesses and contractors of every kind to face. As 2018 has moved forward, we have seen a few difficulties for manufacturers in particular rise in occurrence that we are forecasting will continue (at least in the short term). Here are the 4 top difficulties facing manufacturers in 2018 and 2019:
Top 4 Difficulties Facing Manufacturers
New Tariff Laws
The biggest, and perhaps most globally recognized issue facing manufacturers today has to do with the new Trump tariffs on imported goods. What started strictly as steel and aluminum imported from China has branched to be a whole new slew of products and materials. Many of these materials are commonly used by manufacturers, and thus manufacturers are forking out more cash on material spend than ever before.
Everything from metals to batteries to petroleum based products are being hit with incredibly high tariffs, causing the U.S. production industry to be taking a huge financial hit. Businesses are eligible for a short while to file for tariff rate exemptions if they so please. Unless tariffs are lifted or work-arounds to material imports are found, manufacturers may have to simply re-budget and accept the extra material spend.
Skilled Labor Shortage
Manufacturing is an old industry. During the baby-boomer generation we saw a great increase in manufacturing facilities being built in the United States, and since, the skilled workers of that time have been driving production. However, over 20% of skilled manufacturing workers will be retiring in the next 10 years (an estimated 2.5 million employees).
Manufacturing facilities are now faced with the issue of maintaining (or increasing) production without any hiccups in the re-staffing process.
Accurate Inventory Forecasting
Manufacturing firms have a huge responsibility to accurately forecast their inventory levels. Order too little and your production takes a stiff halt. Too much and you’ll have a surplus of unused materials and risk loosing the margin you made. Much of the difficulty with this forecasting has to do with new technology integrations.
Some manufacturers are following technology trends, while others are skeptical to implement them fully. Tracking software can use serialized barcodes to provide accurate updates regarding raw materials, finished products, and everything in-between. The integration can be spendy but is often worth the extra few bucks.
Manufacturers are undoubtedly under extreme pressure in this season with new automation technologies on the rise. The larger kids on the block are integrating these technologies and taking on larger orders than ever before, making it difficult for manufacturers that can’t afford the upgrade. The need for efficiency and speed on the part of manufacturers has never been higher than nowadays.
Luckily, robotics manufacturers have allowed for renting services to make it possible for the smaller businesses to keep their production schedules on track when needed without having to purchase fully-integrated robotics solutions.
It’s no doubt that manufacturers are put under extreme pressures during every season. If all their customers can package goods quicker than they can produce them, they could end up as the bottleneck in production. Between new technologies, rising customer demand, and the retiring baby-boomer generation, manufacturers are facing unique tensions this season.
Moving to technological integration is never easy, but seems to be one of the only solutions to keeping production schedules on track these days. If you have any questions on this topic or related ones, give one of our team members a call! We are happy to discuss topics, questions, or concerns and help in any ways we can!