Is technology the biggest barrier to productivity in manufacturing?

Did you know that manufacturers are still using paper in more than a third (35%) of their processes on average? What’s more, manual spreadsheets are still used for nearly half (49%) of all manufacturing-related processes. In fact, the use of technology (or lack of) – where only 37% manufacturers are effectively leveraging current technology – was cited as the biggest barrier to productivity, ahead of processes (32%) and people (31%). This was according to figures published by iBASEt in May 2022 in the Manufacturing Digital Productivity Report.

Why are manufacturers hesitant to fully embrace technology?

The report above involved 403 highly engineered industrial manufacturers from both the US and UK, revealing that the industry’s biggest productivity hamper is a reluctance to embrace digital tools and technologies. More UK respondents compared to their US counterparts said that legacy technologies have had a far more negative impact on their business (73%) compared to Brexit (67%).

The report also revealed that 56% of UK manufacturers are not hitting their sales targets as a result and 93% say that technological underinvestment may lead them to go out of business within a decade or so.

The key findings of the report point to one thing: manufacturers’ reluctance to let go of legacy processes and systems. Since 83% of manufacturers said their business was adversely impacted by the pandemic in the past 18 months, at least 67% of them adopted Industry 4.0 and smart factory technologies to survive amid the social distancing guidelines. As a result, 68% claimed it made them more productive while 51% said it led to better business agility.

Unfortunately, 56% of UK manufacturers are still not harnessing the power of Industry 4.0 with 19% not using any of the data whatsoever.

The problem (again) mostly lies in a general lack of digital maturity – an insistence on running operations through pen and paper or spreadsheets. This is leading to higher production and process-related errors, with the overall manufacturing process slowing down a great deal. The end result is an acute difficulty in attracting the new generation of manufacturing workforce.

If you think about it, all this adds up to not only a drop in company performance, but also a loss of trade, and ultimately, leadership positions coming under threat.

Now is the time for every UK manufacturer to take action and embrace the digital revolution. And, this is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “sooner rather than later”.

Digital transformation must be synonymous with manufacturing

As part of their digital maturity strategy, every manufacturing business must adopt the latest tools and technologies to stay ahead of the competitive curve and beat economic woes.

The next generation of talent is going to rely heavily on technology so pen and paper or traditional spreadsheets will simply not cut it anymore.

For more information about moving to a paperless reporting process.


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