Obstacles Facing Manufacturers Today and Solutions with Measurable Results


Challenges abound for today’s manufacturers, and the current container ship crisis underscores the already critical supply chain issues. Here are common obstacles manufacturers are faced with, and some practical solutions that will bring about notable improvements in your organization.

Labor Shortages

Finding and retaining labor will be an ongoing issue that stands in the way of meeting output targets and revenue goals.  In manufacturing over the last six months, there continues to be fewer job applicants than job postings nationwide.  A growing number of job postings could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

When comparing an applicant’s skillset with posted job requirements, manufacturers are finding that a large share of those differences can be addressed with in-house training programs.  On-the-job training, internships and onsite certification classes help to qualify those who may lack experience in specific areas.  The appeal of a stable position that offers consistent hours and income, coupled with opportunities for advancement, factor greatly into attracting and retaining employees.

Solid training programs result in measurable benefits:

  • Opportunities to cross-train protect against impacts of absenteeism.
  • Higher quality in output is realized when everyone receives the same certifications.
  • High performers are identified quickly and can be provided with greater opportunities.

Shortage of Materials

Henry Ford located parts production facilities close to his auto factories long before the concept of just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing was coined.  It makes sense; a locally-sourced supply chain is more responsive to disruptions. 

Ongoing growth in the manufacturing sector is now at 16 consecutive months, according to a recent report released by the Institute for Supply Management.  Watch for an expansion of domestic options for your raw materials and subassemblies as local companies respond to unmet demand.  This reshoring trend will not entirely replace offshoring, but it will offer more options for US-based companies affected by import uncertainty.

Keep in mind that it’s not always apples-to-apples when comparing costs between domestic and foreign options.  When imported per-unit pricing is less, consider the following:

  • Domestic producers will likely have lower transportation costs and quicker delivery.
  • Stateside companies may offer in-house design, engineering and other services that could benefit your company.
  • Generous tax incentives may be available.

Controlling Inventory

The amount of capital that’s sitting on warehouse shelves ranges from 5% to 20% of total assets.  While your organization’s number will differ based on industry, one thing is consistent across the board: inventory levels have a direct impact on profit.

Here’s an inventory management self-check:

  • Has inaccurately managing inventory levels been an obstacle to order fulfillment?
  • Is any measurable time spent searching for “lost” items in your system?
  • Are you performing hand-counts?

While you’re not alone, a “yes” to any of the above are large hurdles to your company’s ability to scale. Whether you decide on a turnkey or customizable software package that will integrate well with your network, having the right numbers at a glance in real time will lower shrinkage and contribute to a healthier inventory turnover.

Improving Efficiency

Organizations reporting the biggest productivity gains have one thing in common: a fundamental commitment to effective communication across their workforce.  Departments who are able to easily interact with others, whether in person or via communication devices, tend to have a more unified approach in their work. 

On the factory floor for example, a hiccup on a production line can quickly be broadcast to all team members so everyone’s in the know.  Maintenance can be dispatched to resolve a problem and start diagnosing the issue while they’re on the way.  Efficient and effective communication will always result in less downtime, an improved safety culture and higher morale.

Streamlining your company’s communication strategy should include wireless headsets.  Consider solutions offering real-time conversations and hearing protection so you’re covered when noise and distances are a factor.  Make durability and the ability to integrate radios, cell phones and other devices your top criteria in order to make the most out of the investment. 

Find out how Sonetics wireless headsets can help improve efficiency and increase productivity at your workplace.

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