The manufacturing sector is facing a number of different pressures at the moment, especially in the UK. A combination of high energy costs, high rates of inflation, import and export admin resulting from Brexit, and a demand to pay employees higher wages are all impacting the ability of manufacturers to run profitably. Many of these challenges are having an effect on the supply chain, and making it harder than ever to deliver on customer and consumer expectations. This has contributed to Reuters’ prediction that British manufacturing output will fall by 3.2% in 2023, having already dropped by 4.4% in 2022. However, there is much that manufacturers can do to iron out problems and inefficiencies across the supply chain, and maximise output and profitability. This blog explores how technology can help in this endeavour.
Common issues within the supply chain
Different manufacturers suffer with some problems more than others, depending on the extent to which they’ve already embraced technology, and the challenges specific to their sector. But in more general terms, five common issues stand out:
- Varying customer demand: managing peaks and troughs in order volumes naturally puts pressure on supply chains, which may find themselves unable to cope with busy periods, and running inefficiently at quieter times
- Capacity constraints: areas of the supply chain that reach their maximum capacity can easily mean that extra capacity in other areas goes unused, and/or that the supply chain as a whole is slowing down
- Higher transport costs: rising fuel prices and larger wage demands from drivers are just two of the reasons that transportation across supply chains is becoming substantially more expensive
- Higher import costs: the above transportation costs, plus the additional difficulties posed by Brexit, means that it can now be substantially more expensive to import and export raw materials and finished goods
- Sourcing reliable carriers: turbulence within the transport sector, and increased competition within it, means that it’s tougher for companies to find and retain quality carriers who can consistently meet their requirements and timelines
Implementing a digitisation strategy
There are many different areas where technology can be applied to align production with customer demand, and reduce costs at the same time. Three in particular stand out: Product assembly: collecting and analysing the detailed data that manufacturing can generate can identify areas where improvements can be made. For example, improvements in waste management can be made thanks to reporting on operator performance and support for quality assurance Storage and inventory management: if all stock within a supply chain is digitised, it’s then possible for inventory information to be updated automatically, saving time for staff and reducing the risk of human error. It also enables centralised record-keeping, more scalable processes across locations, and detailed reporting on stock levels and movements Transport and distribution: technology such as digital record-keeping can vastly improve the quality and consistency of communication between different parties, especially those involved in transport and distribution. In particular, they can give everyone involved full real-time visibility of the location of goods, and whether or not they are on schedule
How SCC can help
As an experienced technological provider for businesses in the manufacturing sector, SCC is ideally placed to support companies hoping to improve their supply chain with document services. One area in which we innovate is in electronic signature scanning, thanks to our partner Scrive. E-signing workflows can be managed faster and more easily, and integrated with our wider DS platform for document service management, these workflows can be seamlessly managed within a single workspace. This can generate substantial efficiencies in the management of health and safety registers, QA issue registers, and logistics response. We have also developed innovative workflows that support faster and smoother three-way matching between invoices, purchase orders and reports. With electronic forwarding cutting any delays in the payment verification processes, time-critical documents can be received, read and approved in moments. In pressured supply chains where every minute counts, this can improve turnaround times and therefore overall performance.
In a data-driven world, one where manufacturers are under pressure to find efficiencies wherever possible, our solutions enable reliability, speed and consistency across even the longest and most challenging of supply chains. For every type of manufacturing, and however complex the supply chain, SCC’s Document Services can help you improve your efficiency, data consistency, agility and overall performance.
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