Victoria Brocklesby, COO at Origin, a UK manufacturer of premium doors and windows, shares how companies can best utilise tech to reduce the impact of rising costs across the manufacturing industry.
Data and technology are becoming increasingly integral in driving business efficiencies as costs continue to rise. Embracing these advances allows teams to quickly identify, log and rectify issues to improve productivity, reduce costs, and prevent customer frustration. For manufacturers, this can make a significant difference to bottom lines as mistakes, inefficiencies and inaccurate data as a result of manual tasks cost time and money.
Pick your technology battles
However, it is a significant undertaking to implement tech into a business. Before making any commitments, it is best to conduct an audit of the efficiencies and inefficiencies of a company to understand where to prioritise implementing tech, as it may not make business sense to do so in all departments straight away. Without this, there is a risk that the most pressing problems are subconsciously overlooked, in favour of making easier, more basic changes. This approach may only make marginal gains, instead of the significant ones necessary to offset steeply rising operating costs.
Systems like cloud computing can hugely improve efficiencies, particularly within new patterns of hybrid working. These systems are a low maintenance way to consolidate the needs of a company and can adapt as needs change over time. Cloud computing helps employees be as productive as possible, whether working in an office space, factory or at home. Ultimately, the priority for a business is profit. Having a productive workforce makes a significant difference in being able to achieve this.
The role of reporting
Elsewhere, customers are becoming more demanding, so preventing mistakes is paramount to improving efficiencies and reducing costs. Having to redo orders or rectify mistakes is costly. At Origin, we use a comprehensive reporting system to track any and all mistakes across the business. This could be a material shortage, missing part or even a missed delivery. This allows us to identify problem areas in our processes so we can rethink and improve upon them to prevent future errors. Every department in the business is part of this system, as without it, everything would be either a guessing game or have to be tracked manually, which is a significant admin task.
Robust automatic systems can also ensure that materials and products are reordered and stockpiled without human involvement. Making this switch means everything from sales and procurement to manufacturing and delivery is on one synchronised system and processes get automated at the click of a button. Having materials automatically deducted from stock levels and reordered without any intervention frees up people to focus on their jobs rather than admin.
Businesses can also use technology to improve the efficiency of delivery. Routing software, such as MaxOptra, will automatically group deliveries to create the most efficient route for the fleet based on the number of miles. This reduces fuel costs, saves time, and improves environmental credentials.
The by-product of reducing costs through using technology to improve efficiencies is that businesses become more reliable. This can further benefit businesses by improving their position in the market as a reliable supplier. So, whilst a business is offsetting increasing costs, it is also making itself more attractive to buy from, leading to more sales as customers can be confident in their ability to deliver.
The most important thing is to never stop learning. Through times of uncertainty and rising costs, critical business decisions must be made and it is impossible to do so without clear direction, which data can provide. The companies that best prepare for change will be the ones that remain profitable as money gets tighter.
Victoria Brocklesby is COO and Co-Founder at Origin, a UK manufacturer of aluminium doors and windows. Victoria is a leading figure within far beyond Origin’s industry. Her opinions are sought by industry bodies and national media, on an array of subjects, from the gender pay gap and Brexit, through to working parents and how to build back better after COVID.
Victoria has worked across every department at Origin, using this knowledge to improve performance and instil the best sustainable practices possible – something she views as a journey not a destination. Throughout every part of Origin’s success, Victoria has been front and centre, driving the company to be a trailblazer within UK business.