Surviving the Labor Crunch: Doing More with Less

Surviving the Labor Crunch: Doing More with Less

Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, can manufacturers have faced a significant labor shortage.  That problem has been exacerbated by steadily increasing labor costs and inflationary pressure in general.

The situation calls for innovative approaches if manufacturers are to maintain profitability and market share. The key lies in doing more with less, leveraging technology, optimizing processes, and enhancing workforce capabilities.

Embracing Technology and Automation

Without question, software technology has dramatically improved the speed and efficiency of production over the past few decades. Nevertheless, most manufacturing organizations are operating at less than their full potential because their technology stack is not fully integrated. Not only does that inhibit the flow of information through the organization; it also limits a company’s capacity to rapidly adopt new technologies as they emerge.

Advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and robotics, for example, can significantly boost efficiency and productivity. If an organization’s data collection capabilities are lacking, or if there is no connection between software and machinery, these technologies cannot provide much of a benefit, if any.

By replacing legacy technology with more modern hardware and software, manufacturing firms can increase their capacity to connect, automate, and analyze. In the quest to “work smarter, not harder,” technology is a great enabler. By automating routine tasks, manufacturers can reduce their reliance on human labor for these functions, thereby mitigating the impact of the labor shortage.

Investing in your Workforce

While technology plays a crucial role, the value of a skilled workforce cannot be understated. In fact, many of the use cases for automation and AI revolve around repetitive tasks that might otherwise be performed by lower-skilled workers.  The upshot is that automation tends to increase an organization’s attention to upskilling the higher end of their labor force.

Humans have a capacity for creativity, problem-solving, and holistic thinking that simply cannot be replaced by machines, at least not at the present time.  Technology can free up your best people to focus on what they do best.  Investing in training and developing those employees enhances the impact of your investments in technology and process improvement.

Providing opportunities for skills enhancement not only improves productivity but also boosts employee morale and loyalty. This approach also helps in retaining existing talent and attracting new talent.

Optimizing Supply Chain and Inventory Management

As we learned during the COVID pandemic, supply-chain optimization can be a double-edged sword.  Companies that had focused heavily on optimal efficiency were suddenly faced with shortages of the raw materials and components necessary to do business.

Manufacturing leaders gained a new appreciation for agility and flexibility. Many responded by diversifying their supply chains and developing deeper relationships with alternative sources of supply.

Whatever the right balance might be for your organization, the optimization of supply chain and inventory management plays a critical role in ensuring that your workforce has the right raw materials to get things done efficiently.

Workforce Flexibility and Adaptability

The lessons of the COVID crisis extend far beyond supply chain management, of course. Most manufacturing leaders have developed a deep appreciation for flexibility and adaptability over the past several years.

Many are applying those principles to accommodate workers’ expectations in a highly competitive labor market. They’re offering flexible work arrangements, cross-training opportunities, and a more agile approach to production scheduling. Coupling that with a strong company culture that values and supports employees can make a significant difference, enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and improving overall productivity.

The labor shortage is a formidable challenge for manufacturers. That challenge also presents an opportunity for transformation and growth, though. By embracing technology, investing in their workforce, optimizing processes, and fostering a positive company culture, industry leaders can successfully navigate these difficult times and emerge stronger.

Acumence Provides Critical Information

Global can manufacturers have long relied on Acumence to provide critical, real-time production intelligence. And during labor shortages, it’s even more important to access real-time production status, real-time KPIs, and to dig into downtime by fault and root cause. If features like these would benefit your company and the challenges you face, contact our team today and learn why some of the world’s most successful can manufacturers rely on Acumence.