Workforce technology to curb the major challenges faced by the manufacturing sector, says Kronos

Technologies that empower workers to do their jobs more effectively will be crucial in the battle for greater productivity and employee satisfaction

The manufacturing sector is currently facing a series of challenges, with some being longstanding and familiar, and others brought by more recent geopolitical and technological developments. Key issues such as Brexit, skills shortages and consistently sluggish productivity are squeezing profitability and contributing towards an atmosphere of uncertainty in the sector. However, a greater focus on the deployment of technology in the workplace will offer manufacturers the opportunity to completely reshape their working practices and revolutionise key operations. This is according to Kronos.

Despite these evident challenges, the manufacturing sector has not yet fully embraced these technologies, meaning many have not yet taken full advantage of the power of comprehensive digital transformation. New technologies such as the Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence may be coming to the fore, but despite these advancements, manufacturers should recognise that people will still be working behind the scene. This is where other solutions that are designed to help maximise the output of human workers, such as state-of-the-art workforce management tools come into force.

On this changing landscape, Guillaume Varlet, EMEA Industry & Customer Insights Manager at Kronos, says: “The manufacturing sector is in a unique position currently and facing great challenges. Globalisation has been a key consideration of leaders at manufacturing organisations for decades. This greater focus on global interaction has had wide-ranging benefits, including access to larger and a wider range of markets to more cost-efficient resources (materials and labour) and more flexibility for supply chains. On the other side of the coin, however, there are a number of potential issues that globalisation poses, such as complying with local labour regulations, which need to be considered by businesses if they are to effectively manage their workforces, maintain employee morale and avoid high staff turnover.

“Similarly, skills shortages mean that manufacturers are struggling to fulfil demand and are fighting each other to attract and retain skilled labour. Salary has its limitations, which means differentiating elements such as safety, flexibility, fair treatment and being empowered will be crucial. The potential impact of Brexit also means that there needs to be a major focus on improving operational efficiencies and streamlining core processes, while keeping staff morale high. The pressure to increase bottom-line profitability in the face of such challenges is very real, and one of the most effective ways that this can be done is by empowering managers and employees to do their jobs more effectively with the resources they currently have – all of this can be facilitated by workforce management solutions.”

By placing greater emphasis on the adoption of the most innovative workforce management technologies, Varlet believes that productivity woes can be tackled, and manufacturers can offset the impact of factors that are beyond their control.

He added: “In order to not only survive in this challenging landscape, but thrive, manufacturers need to look at how they can strip out inefficiencies, automate non value-adding activities, allowing managers to focus on their teams and productive activities, generally making life easier for managers and other employees and providing more flexibility. This can be achieved through workforce management technologies that are designed with these specific challenges in mind. People are the most important element in creating a successful business, regardless of the increasing sophistication of resources such as automated machinery and computer software and empowering these employees through appropriate technologies is key.”

Varlet concluded: “There is much for the manufacturing sector to contend with over the next few years, with skills shortages, millennials becoming the largest working population, the negative misconception of the manufacturing industry, the introduction of smart factories and the ongoing drive towards automation meaning that businesses will be forced to do what they can with limited or changing resources in the bid to stay ahead of their competitors. Workforce management has a pivotal role to play here and those manufacturers that realise this will attract and maintain the best talent while ensuring maximum output.”

To discover more about the key issues impacting the manufacturing sector workforce and how technology is alleviating these issues, download Kronos’ latest white paper, Empowering the Employee: How technology will play its part in creating a more efficient workforce in manufacturing.