Common Challenges in Manufacturing

By: Joseph Evans

The manufacturing sector, be it printing, car making, or machining parts, all face similar problems. It’s an industry of watching the numbers and controlling costs whenever possible. Fluctuating energy and material costs forces manufacturers to operate on tight margins. So to account for this, they must watch everything that comes in, goes out, and manage the flow of materials from the moment it arrives on the loading dock. Raw materials come in and finished products go out. In between lots of different hands will touch the products and every new hand is another chance for waste.

Car manufacturing

Inventory Control

Keeping track of inventory is the number one challenge of manufacturing. Knowing how much material is on had from minute to minute is vital information. Operating on tight margins means nothing can be wasted. The goal is 100% inventory accuracy, but it’s rarely achieved because the constant use and moving of materials make them tough to track. Product minimums need to be set so when inventory levels get low, procurement knows to reorder so production doesn’t stop. Shutting down production because inventory is off is a cardinal sin of manufacturing, but it happens.

Process Improvement and Optimization

Outdate production processes are a killer. Just because “it’s the way we’ve always done it”, is not a reason to continue doing something. Manufacturing processes can always be streamlined and improved. Gathering the data associated with making a widget allows for improving that process. Knowing how much time a process takes, how much material it takes, and where the waste is can sometimes cut the process time in half. Using new technologies for process improvement will lead to shorter cycle times and increased productivity.

robotic process automation

Analog to Digital

Manufacturing is an umbrella word; it covers a lot of territory and many industries. One thing that remains common, no matter what industry, is the use of legacy systems and manual processes. Companies still track parts and inventory with a pencil and paper. Old companies still use old techniques because they have worked for a long time and still do. That may be, but there are better, fast and more efficient processes. There is no need to hang on to the past when the business can be improved almost overnight. Taking a company digital and getting rid of the paper trail is the logical path to take.

Tackling These Challenges

Children’s Plus, Inc. is book distributor that has been supplying libraries with books since 1979. They service 15,000 school libraries and 2,600 public ones across North America and Europe. When a library gets new books, they must be classified and cataloged. Children’s Plus wanted to bring this task in-house rather than outsource it and alligatortek’s solution now allows them to create MARC records with customizable data fields and increased flexibility. This custom tracking solution gives Children’s Plus increased control over each order, from start to finish.


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