UK manufacturers are riding high on a global economy shrugging off a decade’s worth of post-recession blues. The country is currently sat at number nine in the world’s top 10 industrial nations and exports hit record figures in 2018.
Manufacturers – regardless of size or sector – are growth-oriented organisations. Traditionally, this growth has come from getting more efficiency out of their processes and finding more customers to sell to, thereby increasing output.
Improvements resulting from the introduction of lean manufacturing techniques and the first wave of ERP systems were nothing short of revolutionary; however, the industrial landscape has travelled a huge distance in the decades since.
The companies that are succeeding in growing profits and exports today are those who invest in modern digital technologies that spur productivity, innovation and customer experiences.
If there is one thing that echoes across all The Manufacturer’s conversations with industrial decision-makers of late, it is that they unequivocally understand this need to adopt digital technologies.
The findings of this year’s Annual Manufacturing Report clearly mirror that sentiment. Just some of the headline figures from the research include:
- 92% believe digital technologies (DT) will enable them to increase productivity levels per headcount
- 80% of manufacturers believe DT will improve their supply chain relationships
- 89% believe DT will enable staff to work smarter
- 79% believe DT will help broaden their customer base
- 66% believe DT will be a massive growth driver for UK manufacturing as a whole
Yet, using digital technologies to achieve growth is one thing; ensuring that growth is sustainable over the long-term is quite another.
Throughout 2018, The Manufacturer has frequently hosted gatherings of senior representatives from a broad spectrum of manufacturing sectors and business sizes.
According to those directors and executives present, there are several challenges associated with scaling their operations:
- Coping with Operational Complexity: Identifying and subsequently breaking down organisational or technological silos that isolate different departments and locations – none more so than those separating operational and IT teams.
- Living up to Your Customer Expectations: Understanding, interpreting and reacting to rapidly shifting customer demands – something which not only builds brand loyalty, it also leads to greater accuracy around forecasting future demand.
- Increasing Productivity: Realising ‘transformative’ gains – with the low-hanging fruit already picked, the effort required to chase the 1% gains can increase exponentially.
Although technology isn’t the only solution to these problems, those organisations embracing the cloud are adapting to these challenges much quicker than their competitors.
If you’d like to find out how you too can take advantage, then please download your copy of a new e-book – Made of More: The operations guide to discrete manufacturing growth – from Microsoft and Azzure IT.
The e-book explores each of the three challenges and offers some recommendations on what your business can do to overcome them.