Manufacturers continue to face the perfect storm – labor and skills shortages, supply chain disruption and inflation – which are challenging the industry more than ever before. While there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, manufacturers are questioning if it’s actually a train coming head on. Job shops continue to struggle with finding skilled workers to operate production processes, as the labor shortage worsens. According to a recent report by Deloitte, 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could remain unfilled between now and 2030. To make matters worse, persistent disruptions in the global supply chain, including raw material shortages, transportation delays and production interruptions, have significantly hindered operating ability. On top of this, it seems for job shops, the issues of costing, scheduling and tracking are as relevant now as they were 30 years ago. Amid shifting expectations from both customers and employees, predictive and prescriptive analytics are essential tools for manufacturers to adopt in order to mitigate further disruption and meet the needs of their stakeholders. In leveraging solutions that enable tools like forecasting, job shops can carve out a crucial competitive advantage that gives them greater control over the larger industry headwinds.
Gone are the days of being able to differentiate your job shop by the specific machines on your plant floor. Instead, it’s time to look at what customers need from their strategic partners. Expectations of technology and strategy are rapidly evolving – and both factors play an increasingly important role in a business’s decision to work with you. Job shops can and should seek to differentiate themselves from the competition with a forward-thinking strategy that goes beyond reflecting on last quarter’s performance and instead focuses on an ‘around the corner’ view to help them prepare for what’s ahead. Utilizing tools such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with predictive and prescriptive analytics not only positions job shops advantageously for landing and retaining customers but also in attracting employees as well.
How ERP solutions enable predictive and prescriptive analytics
Managing and utilizing data across a manufacturers’ departments and functions can be a daunting process, but ERP solutions consolidate this data, taking the guesswork out and providing a unified view of operations. This data serves as an integral input to prescriptive and predictive analytics, providing a single source of truth that makes it easier to analyze and derive insights. Real-time update capabilities mean that job shops can also use the resulting analysis to automate additional processes to keep ahead of the curve.
ERP tools, particularly Materials Requirements Planning (MRP), utilize predictive and prescriptive analytics to ensure that job shops always have the right standard and raw materials on hand, to be prepared for whatever job comes next. Using advanced calculators, material and inventory solutions within ERP can easily convert and ensure common materials stay in stock, eliminating guesswork and inaccuracies. With multiple warehouses and lot masters, job shops can also manage lot tracking. By prioritizing lot tracking, job shops can regulate and track quality in their raw materials, ensuring that customers are receiving the quality products that they expect. Maintaining high quality products is a primary way to retain customers and bring new ones through the door.
Bringing value to customers
Considering job shops don’t manufacture their own products, customer relations are vital - and keeping them happy is paramount to long-term success. Customers are expecting on-time delivery, even with supply chain delays and increasing material costs that challenge the ability to meet deadlines. Simply put, job shops need analytics and forecasting tools to meet and manage the constantly shifting needs of their customers. The traditional methodology of looking back at the past and asking accounting ‘how did we do last month?’ no longer suffices when it comes to navigating uncharted territories of inventory lead times, material shortages, and production delays. To meet current expectations amidst the external environment, job shops need a real-time, forward-thinking strategy that utilizes the power of predictive analytics for accurate forecasting.
Using analytics to strengthen talent
The incoming workforce has grown up in the digital age, and as such, have formed high expectations for the tools that they use on the job. Modern ERP systems need to be simple, intuitive and boast a robust, feature-rich user interface. A lack of these traits will be seen as a major deterrent and present an obstacle to widespread adoption.
Beyond user experience with technology, employees entering the workforce are increasingly concerned with career growth and development. By automating manual and repetitive tasks that leave staff feeling bored, underappreciated, and unfulfilled, job shops can increase efficiencies, accuracies and production levels while raising staff satisfaction. Opening the door for higher value work, growth and development will be a critical component of attracting – and retaining – top talent entering the workforce.
Solidifying a competitive advantage
With labor shortage and supply chain difficulties baring down, job shops need to find a way they can differentiate efficiently. It’s time to say goodbye to the ways of the past and adopt the latest in innovative technology, such as ERP tools with predictive and prescriptive analytics, to improve outcomes, service delivery, and customer satisfaction. Harnessing the power of these tools also solidifies job shop competitive advantage in two critical ways. By providing a comprehensive platform for managing and analyzing data, job shops can improve strategic decision-making and optimize processes which set them apart in the eyes of their customers. Beyond customer growth, modern ERP tools appeal to the next wave of employees, who prefer to work in a tech-driven environment. By leveraging analytics, job shops can address these challenges and disruptions head-on and be poised to face the future with confidence and certainty.