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How to Optimize Your Manufacturing Workforce

Oct. 21, 2019
The struggle to fill job openings is real.

It’s hard to believe that the phrase “war for talent” was coined more than 20 years ago. Today, the fight to attract and retain talented employees rages on in virtually every industry—and manufacturing is no exception.

Throughout the manufacturing sector, there are plenty of jobs open, but not enough qualified people to fill them. If you think things are tough now, just wait until 2028. By then, there will be 4.6 million open manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but more than half of them (2.4 million) will go unfilled, according to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

Is Better Recruitment Enough?

One possible solution to this challenge is for manufacturers to optimize their recruiting programs and spread the word about career options in the sector. For example, thousands across the U.S. recently participated in the latest MFG Day events.

Many manufacturers are also exploring previously untapped sources of talent. For instance, post-service military veterans possess many of the skills needed to succeed in manufacturing.

But no matter how effective they are at attracting the available talent, it’s unlikely manufacturing firms will make a significant dent in their unfilled vacancies. The demographics just don’t add up. Effective recruitment will always be important—but in the long run, manufacturers need to focus on getting greater output from smaller headcounts.

Doing More Without Doing More Hiring

How can manufacturers get the most out of their shrinking workforces? By automating the most error-prone tasks and by standardizing processes. These common-sense steps can dramatically reduce your business risk. And when you implement the right manufacturing platform in support of this approach, you can actually make it easier for your staff to do the right thing.

Here’s how technology such as a cloud manufacturing execution system (MES) or cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help benefit your workforce:

  • Increase productivity and eliminate manual process errors by digitizing paper-based operations.
  • Control cycle times and improve efficiency by orchestrating production processes that are driven directly from your control plan.
  • Perform quality control as workers go to ensure compliance with check sheets.
  • Help operators and leaders make real-time control decisions based on real-time production reporting.

A Real-Life Example in the Manufacturing Sector

EG Industries is one company that’s focusing on using technology to get more out of its workforce. Since implementing a cloud ERP solution, this global plastic injection molding company has been able to reassign many of its workers to higher-value activities.

“We can focus more on our division’s mission, which is to provide our internal and external customers with real-time actionable data for them to make timely and informed decisions,” says Tony Brown, the company’s director of business systems. “That’s really what this division does and what the cloud has done for us.”

Brown reports that EG Industries’ IT organization helps connect systems to departments in ways that increase visibility. They also develop tools for gathering and using data more effectively throughout the enterprise. Some team members have even been able to move into broader operations and plant management roles.

Learn how cloud-based MES can help you stay ahead of your competition in the white paper MES in the Cloud.

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