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Answers to the Top 8 Technology Questions Keeping Manufacturing Business Owners Up at Night


Manufacturing owners and executives juggle a lot in their business—trying to boost efficiency, maintain quality, tackle labor shortages, add production capacity, and keep profits up. That’s enough to keep anyone busy. If you’re a small to midsize manufacturer, it’s likely you’re wearing all these hats and more, including maintaining your tech stack, updating software, implementing cybersecurity measures, ensuring adherence to compliance requirements (e.g., NIST /CMMC), performing backups—the list goes on.

In a world where innovation moves at the speed of light, it’s no wonder you may feel overwhelmed. Let’s break down some of the common questions that keep manufacturing business owners up at night and provide answers to help alleviate some of your worries


Question 1: To better prepare for supply-chain disruptions, do I have the right technology in place? If not, what do I need?

Many manufacturers are managing their supply chain with legacy systems ranging from outdated hardware to data housed on spreadsheets and software that can’t keep up with modern demands. The pandemic taught us that antiquated systems were too slow to pivot to the supply chain breakdown challenges. In fact, 94 percent of businesses report taht they’re paying more attention to supply-chain resilience these days.

Managing logistics and inventory requires technology that keeps up with your business goals and growth. The right technology can keep your business humming along without disruptions. Here are some technology updates you might consider:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to help you plan and manage operations and offer instant visibility into your data to help improve confidence and speed in decision-making
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Devices to collect data on asset location, conditions, and performance in real time
  • The Cloud to collaborate in real time and share information quickly
  • Updated Hardware that can withstand the rigors of your day-to-day processes and ensure data and system security
  • Managed IT Services to ensure that all systems go for keeping employee productivity at optimal levels and data and systems secure and in compliance

Making scalable changes in your tech stack will ensure that you can more easily pivot should a supply-chain disruption occur and help you stay ahead of the competition.


Question 2: How can I do more with my current labor resources?

Lean manufacturing principles are crucial for optimizing production processes, reducing waste, and enhancing overall efficiency. The concept of doing more with less is possible when you consider scalable solutions and automation. While your organization might not yet need a full-time IT manager, you may benefit from a managed service provider (MSP) who can be “on the job” when and where you need them. An MSP can provide ongoing and proactive support without the expensive overhead costs associated with a full-time employee.

Another cost-effective solution to do more with your current labor resources is to leverage technology solutions. Many tasks can be automated with tech solutions, including inventory management, quality control, planning, assembly, and more. Let’s talk more about that in Question 4.


Question 3: How do I know if we’re leveraging our current technology investments to their fullest potential? Or, are we wasting money and resources to maintain systems on underutilized and unnecessary tech?

Underutilized software can cost up to $247 per desktop for an organization. To ensure that you’re not wasting valuable resources, you first need to do a deep dive into your tech environment and inventory what you currently have. Many manufacturers are dealing with tech bloat which costs money and burns value internal resources time to maintain. After you’ve done a deep dive, based on your desired business outcomes, determine what you are trying to accomplish in terms of business growth and operational efficiency.

By conducting this review, you’ll be able to identify what you’re currently using and what’s sitting idle. You’ll also be able to see gaps in your technology stack that can be solved with emerging tech. Staying on top of your technology will help you take advantage of the opportunities available in the current industrial 4.0 era. If you find an outside perspective would be helpful to reimagine your tech stack and how you manage it, reach out to us.


Question 4: How can I speed up production to increase our project capacity?

In a 2020 study, 66 percent of IT and engineering leaders said their staff saved 30 to 50 percent of their time, and 46 percent said they reduced costs by 30 to 50 percent, all by switching from manual processes to automation.

With your team, identify the processes that can be automated with modernized systems. Here are some ideas you might consider:

  • Deploy IoT sensors to monitor equipment performance and detect issues in real time
  • Leverage technologies like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for increased visibility into the process and planning stages
  • Invest in robotics for repetitive tasks like assembly, packaging, and material handling
  • Replace manual equipment with automated machinery for tasks such as cutting, welding, and molding
  • Implement CIM (computer-integrated manufacturing) systems to integrate various manufacturing processes through computer control
  • Use AI algorithms to optimize production schedules, predict demand, and identify opportunities for process improvement
  • Invest in just-in-time (JIT) delivery and vendor-managed inventory (VMI) systems to minimize inventory holding costs and reduce lead times


Question 5: Is it time for us to employ a more consolidated technology strategy?

Many manufacturers are wrangling multiple systems that, if consolidated, could save valuable time and give you greater insight into your business. Disparate, manual-based systems like email, spreadsheets, and paper files cause friction (slows growth), reduce efficiency, result in unnecessary task duplication, and eat away at your profitability by adding to operational costs.

Consolidating your tech stack quickly supercharges efficiency and slashes costs. Imagine ditching the jumble of mismatched tools and instead harnessing a streamlined, unified system. A tech stack assessment can lead to a leaner, more agile, and cost-effective operation, freeing up resources to fuel innovation and growth.


Question 6: Being a multigenerational team, how do I best communicate the need to modernize our operations using emerging technology?

Convincing your team to embrace new technology can be a tough battle. Long-time employees might dread the disruption to their established routines and the effort required to learn new systems. They may also have concerns about the reliability of new technology and doubts about its benefits.

Getting buy-in for changes will require a business case about the advantages of new technology. Addressing concerns head-on, outlining potential financial gains from emerging tech, and highlighting early wins can help build enthusiasm for the changes.


Question 7: With cybersecurity being a critical investment, do we need cybersecurity insurance? If so, what do we need to do to qualify?

Investing in cybersecurity is vital for manufacturers to safeguard critical operations and sensitive data. Cyberattacks disrupt manufacturing and can end up costing you big bucks (an average of $9.48 million per attack). Considering that a cyberattack happens every 11 seconds, every manufacturer needs to take cybersecurity seriously. Investing in cybersecurity not only shields manufacturers from immediate dangers but also ensures long-term resilience and a competitive edge in the market.

Cybersecurity insurance can offer protection and peace of mind in the face of increasing digital threats. Insurance can help cover the costs of restoring systems, recovering data, and managing the legal and regulatory ramifications of a cyberattack. If you’re looking to strengthen your security posture, check out this interactive workbook to access your current practices and determine what you need to mature further.


Question 8: How will AI impact manufacturing?

Every water cooler discussion these days is focused on AI and how it will affect businesses now and in the future. But AI isn’t really a new concept. Iterations of AI have existed for a long time—think Google Search, SIRI, and Google Translate. AI does, however, feel like it’s taking the world by storm, and it’s estimated that the AI manufacturing industry will grow to around $20.8 billion by 2028.

AI is being used in supply-chain management to automate planning. Its predictive technology can also be used to signal when a machine needs updating. AI tools like ChatGPT can scan documents to quickly summarize instructions, translate languages, and highlight key points from meetings. Keep abreast of current trends and learn how AI can help you become more efficient and give you a distinct competitive advantage.

In Closing

In an industry where every second counts and margins are tight, staying ahead of the curve is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity. Embracing modern technology can transform your operations from reactive to proactive. From enhancing supply-chain resilience and optimizing labor resources to consolidating your tech stack and leveraging AI, each strategic decision propels your business toward greater efficiency and profitability.

The journey toward modernization isn’t just about adopting new tools—it’s about fostering a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability. By 1) investing in the right technology and cybersecurity measures and 2) engaging and empowering your team, you position your manufacturing business to thrive in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced market.