For all companies, adaptation and growth are key to success. However, when growth is hampered by ongoing supply and staffing shortages, it can have a long-lasting, negative impact on the bottom line. Supply chain disruptions can arise from a wide range of factors and can impact a company’s ability to maintain production. Simultaneously, organizations must also contend with a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in the manufacturing industry, making it difficult to keep up with demand.
Companies can take a comprehensive approach to address these shortages by investing in technology, training their employees and partnering with reliable vendors. These investments can help ensure the long-term success.
Investing in Technology
With today’s advancing technology, there is something to be said for taking advantage of tools that can help make the most of the current staffing situation. Technology is currently having an increased investment in the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs), remote monitoring capabilities and collaborative robots (cobots).
AGVs are robotic vehicles that can autonomously navigate factories, warehouses and other manufacturing facilities to transport goods. This technology can reduce the need for human workers in repetitive tasks like carrying or moving items, allowing workers to focus on more complex challenges.
AGVs are equipped with sophisticated sensors and control systems that enable them to respond to changes in the environment quickly. This allows warehouses to handle more inventory in less time, which can be especially crucial when staffing shortages arise. Other benefits include improved accuracy, speed and safety in moving inventory.
Another type of technology that can directly impact staffing needs is the implementation of remote monitoring and connectivity. Remote monitoring capabilities have been around for a while, but advancements in technology have made them more viable for smaller manufacturers. When utilized to its maximum efficiency, remote monitoring can help companies reduce the number of employees needed to be on-site around the clock. Instead, plant managers can remotely connect to the facility/facilities to monitor activities and adjust from anywhere.
The adoption of cobots is proving to be an efficient solution for addressing staffing shortages. Cobots are designed to interact with humans in a shared workspace, allowing the workforce to focus on high-level tasks while the cobots take on repetitive, monotonous work, allowing for more productive use of human capital.
Focusing on Training
To make the technology work, companies must invest in training employees to use it efficiently. Partners and suppliers of the technology often offer their skills teams to help in this aspect. By empowering employees to understand new technologies and how their implementation creates efficiencies for the entire team, employee buy-in can be created and the company’s investment in their success demonstrated.
Implementing training programs for these technologies can also increase employee morale. Proper training reduces stress and increases job satisfaction by instilling confidence in employees. When they have a thorough understanding of their job, the processes and the technology, it is easier for them to excel and be productive, which translates to a positive work environment.
Investing in employee training is also an effective way to create a long-term ripple effect within the supply chain. Providing employees with the necessary knowledge and skills empowers them to actively identify and address supply shortages, inefficiencies and potential bottlenecks. This heightened level of awareness and expertise greatly reduces the risk of production delays, excess inventory buildup and other critical problems that could impede overall operational efficiency.
Taking a Comprehensive Approach
Supply chain disruptions will never fully go away. Though there may be times when the issue is less prevalent, there will always be supply challenges to solve. That is why it is important to take a comprehensive approach to mitigate their impact. One way to do this is by forming partnerships with vendors that can offer services like vendor-managed inventory (VMI) or warehousing.
VMI is a proven solution that aggregates years of expertise in securing parts and supplies needed to keep operations running smoothly. First, it reduces the burden on in-house inventory management teams, freeing them to focus on more strategic initiatives. Second, it improves supply chain efficiency. Vendors have developed the expertise to source the items needed at the right time and at the best price.
The right VMI vendor will have a deep understanding of the market and can source parts and supplies from a variety
of sources—saving both time and money. Not only will the vendor negotiate directly with suppliers to get the best prices and delivery times, but they will also work with multiple suppliers simultaneously to ensure continued access to parts, even in the face of shipping or production delays.
Many VMI vendors have robust analytics capabilities, allowing for real-time insights into their inventory levels and demand patterns, enabling them to make data-driven supply decisions.
It is not just about surviving in the short-term, but about thriving in the long-term. While it may be tempting to rely on “just-in-time” strategies to minimize inventory costs, this approach can backfire when disruptions arise. Companies that balance efficiency with preparedness will be better equipped to weather supply chain disruptions and come out on top.
Through strategic partnerships and a focus on innovative technologies, companies can increase their agility and resilience in the face of unexpected challenges or changes in the market. These solutions can bring other added benefits to organizations, like improved efficiency, reduced costs and enhanced overall performance, leading to increased profitability and long-term success.