December 2, 2020

Looking Ahead: What Manufacturers Should Prepare for in 2021

The year 2020 has certainly had its ups and down, especially in the business community. Companies large and small had to face unprecedented circumstances as they worked to comply with new guidelines in Georgia as a result of COVID-19. But, as businesses begin to return to their usual operations, they also need to look ahead to ways they can prepare for what the future holds. Make sure your manufacturing company is ready for 2021 by learning about what you can expect.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is defined as “a network of internet connected objects able to collect and exchange data.” This means that thousands, perhaps millions, of informational resources are literally at our fingertips. It also means that information has become just as valuable as any other good or service. And you will find that the IoT, while not a totally new concept, will have a unique impact on the manufacturing industry moving forward.

For instance, many manufacturers find that their equipment may be outdated or less streamlined than their more updated competitors. One way that the IoT helps manufacturers be so successful is by allowing the machines they use to talk to each other, increasing efficiency and eliminating unnecessary steps. The same holds true for data analysis – using equipment that is more easily able to connect and communicate with other equipment makes it much easier to access and analyze data that you want to track, like how long a project takes from start to finish.

Project Management

With technology developing faster every day, many project managers in the manufacturing business may find themselves presented with new options for management and communication. It’s important to take the time to research these options, and learn how you can put them to use. However, it’s equally important to note that this type of tech is only as good as the person who uses the information it gives. That means that project managers aren’t being replaced – they are needed now more than ever, and they need to be able to utilize the resources available.

Learning and using these resources is an example of something that project managers also need to practice: flexibility. Historically, the manufacturing process operates with a specific set of rules and expectations. Deadlines, budgets, materials – these are all part of any project. But while these things are certainly necessary for success in the manufacturing industry, there is also an increased need for flexibility as workforces and resources develop and change. For instance, you might want to work with a specific engineering firm – but they are located in a country halfway across the world. It is certainly possible to achieve your goal, but you will need to be flexible when it comes to scheduling meetings and finding ways to communicate across time zones.

Customer Service

When you think of customer service, you might think of the idea of working directly with clients to ensure a positive experience with your company. That concept is important to your business and should be a priority, but what we are talking about is customer self-service. In other words, the ability for your customers to have access to projects so they can answer their own questions or see status updates.

This idea may be counter-intuitive – after all, you want to be customer-facing and make sure they understand exactly what the information means. However, there is an increasing demand from customers in the manufacturing industry to have a more hands-on approach when it comes to projects. Creating a portal where your clients can request specific information, see project updates, and even make new requests can go a long way in giving your clients what they need, while also cutting down on the time you spend answering questions about deadlines and updates.

If you are still concerned that your clients will have access to information that may be confusing or misleading, split the difference – upload some of the information to the portal, while also giving contact information where a client can call or email and receive additional information and clarification on their project.

The manufacturing industry has undergone some changes over the years, but one thing that has remained constant is the necessary services manufacturers alone can provide. Your business has an opportunity to make a unique contribution to your community and beyond – as long as you take the time to learn what your clients need, where the industry is headed next, and how you can be part of all it. 2021 will be here before you know it, so make sure your business is ahead of the game.

December 2, 2020 Laura Stewart