Challenges Facing Today’s Manufacturing Firms
With the increase and diversification of consumer goods in the world today, there is a constant need for more manufacturing firms. Most manufacturing firms work around the clock and still can’t meet the needs of their customers. These companies play a big role in ensuring that the desires of consumers are met. Because of the urgent nature of manufacturing products, many manufacturers face numerous challenges.
Evolving consumer needs
Consumer’s tastes and needs are constantly evolving. Consumer needs are affected by factors such as the entertainment industry, the latest fashion trends, the weather, and even the environment in which the consumer lives. Manufacturing firms must constantly be scrambling to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers. This can be a daunting task. For most companies, it’s time-consuming and expensive to change the manufacturing process. Changes in consumer needs can either be systemic or abrupt. While systemic changes are predictable and somewhat easier to deal with, changes which occur abruptly pose the greatest challenge to manufacturing firms. Firms are forced to make unexpected modifications to their products and the process of production.
Like consumer needs, technology is constantly changing. Changes in technology are viewed positively in most circumstances. New technology can make doing certain jobs simpler while improving accuracy. Machines can now do the work of dozens of humans, reducing the number of people employed.
Technology, however, may have adverse effects on businesses in various ways. First of all, with technology comes the risk of cybercrime. Cyber-attacks are a constant threat that manufacturing firms have to be aware of. These attacks can have negative effects on the firm, including revealing their trade secrets or exposing their client list. This, in turn, can result in a loss of revenue and the company may be at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
Another problem associated with technology is the rate at which technology changes. Today, you may have the most modern equipment available, but all that could change with some new invention. Keeping up with changing technology in the world of manufacturing can be an expensive affair. Sometimes equipment can be modified and sometimes it must be replaced. This means that a manufacturing company must constantly be on the outlook for new and advanced technology and must have both the willingness and the money to purchase or upgrade their machinery. This can be costly.
Compliance with rules and regulations
Without a doubt, the manufacturing industry is one of the most regulated industries in any given country. Most governments exercise a lot of power in this area because of the effects that these firms’ products can have on consumers. Some rules and regulations affecting manufacturing firms include taxation, standardization rules, and consumer protection regulations. Manufacturing firms are also required to ensure that their premises are safe for workers. Accidents in large, busy manufacturing plants are common, but they do slow down the workflow. In some cases, the plant can be fined for not following the set human safety standards. Most of the time, compliance with these regulations is costly.
This has been a common problem for firms since time immemorial. Growth in the number of manufacturing firms is bound to increase competition. Competition in the world today, however, is not the same as in days past. With the fast adoption of the World Wide Web, it has become increasingly easier for competitors to market their products in a global marketplace. Manufacturing firms in China, for example, are extremely hard to beat on their prices and turnaround times. The Chinese do not have wage or safety laws. They can work their people around the clock and many do. Competitors in the United States will have a hard time matching the low prices of Chinese manufacturers. In the US, companies must observe OHSA safety laws and they must pay workers a minimum wage. This has led to most companies going overseas for their products and manufacturing needs.
Lack of adequately skilled personnel
One of the biggest problems faced by employers in the world today is the number of baby boomers attaining retirement age. Upon retiring, baby boomers leave a vacuum in the field, having taken their numerous years of experience with them. People taking over from the baby boomers, on the other hand, are not adequately prepared or skilled enough to fill in the gap left. Firms are thus spending a lot of money training the new workforce.
Money is generally hard to come by for most people in the world today. Poor economic policies and poor implementation of sound economic rules has caused a rise in inflation rates over the years. When there is an improvement, it is usually by a rather small margin, which does not make much of an impact in the lives of most people. Manufacturing firms are hard hit by inflation. Firstly, the cost of raw materials that they depend on is likely to rise as a result of inflation. The cost of production, generally, also rises. This means a rise in the cost of the finished product. But because inflation affects everyone, consumers may not have enough money to purchase these higher priced items. Consumers can now surf the web and find cheaper products from all over the world.
Manufacturing firms play a big role in every country’s economy. They ensure that there is always a supply to meet the growing demand. However, the problems they face each year make their work much more challenging. Juggling all the various components required for success can leave some manufacturers out in the cold.