By: James A. D’Agostino, CEO, MEP Center Director
I was hopeful that by this time in 2021 that we would have put a majority of the supply chain disruptions and COVID issues behind us, but here we are once again. Groundhog Day anyone? Manufacturers are still combatting supply chain issues and raw material sourcing obstacles. Even when they are able to find what they need for their operations, price increases are eroding margins and making life much more difficult. On top of that, significantly increased demand from all of the delayed plans and purchases from last year are now happening as manufacturers are trying to adopt new technologies into their production processes. Lastly, employee recruiting and retention continues to be a major challenge for manufacturers. Companies are trying to figure out how to manage all of these challenges at the same time while warding off a global pandemic.
As we talked about earlier this year, these major challenges also represent massive opportunities. What the leadership of every manufacturer needs to understand immediately is how their organizations can take advantage of these trends in order to grow their business as much as possible while also planning for the future. With the increased interest in reshoring and nearshoring, manufacturers should be looking at ways to invest in future competitiveness and scale to take advantage of the enormous trade shift that is occurring. They should also be looking to create a stronger supplier ecosystem closer to home. This will enable stronger ties and allow them to work more closely with customers and suppliers. The end result of all of this will be a stronger, more agile, and more controllable supply chain. Overall, the supply chain will be much less susceptible to the types of disruptions that we continue to see from the global pandemic.
Manufacturing skills have also been altered dramatically during the ongoing pandemic. There is a much greater need for manufacturers to take a more proactive approach that focuses more heavily on workforce development and future skill needs. This means that manufacturers should be looking to provide increased training opportunities for new workers along with helping existing workers upskill their knowledge and capabilities. Increased automation requires a rethinking of manufacturing roles, especially for employees whose jobs are most affected. Manufacturers should also come to grips with the fact that this will likely not be a temporary condition, but a fundamental shift in overall workforce development needs.
Our country has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition itself on the world’s manufacturing stage. Manufacturers should be leveraging this moment to invest in the future and really look at their technology and workforce needs to take that next incremental step forward. In a world that is divided in several ways, there is one thing that most everyone can agree upon: manufacturing will never be the same, and it is clear that the old way of operating is no longer an acceptable strategy. TDO’s skilled team has the perfect blend of industry and technical experience, along with a vast partner network and access to lucrative funding, to assist those manufacturers that are interested in taking that next transformational step. Reach out today for a free consultation.