Manufacturing, like all sectors, was hit hard on the past year, from supply chains to the factory floor. Tim Parkinson, Airedale Springs’ Chairman, believes that something has to change now, so that manufacturers can prevent a similar situation from happening again.
Not since the imposition of the three-day week back in the 1970’s has an event forced business to work differently. Any good business should examine its operation, what it does and why; and is it beneficial to the business, its employees and the environment; not just for today but also for tomorrow. The world has changed and so must we.
Airedale Springs are taking a closer look how businesses can protect themselves from being negatively affected by events like these in the future.
Investing in smart factories
Automation has been a vital component of manufacturing even before the global pandemic, but it’s now clear that implementing a smart factory can go a long way to prevent issues such as skills and raw material shortages, which are detrimental to productivity and the bottom line. Learn more about the flock manufacturer process.
This is because Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the Internet of Things and autonomous robots, can offer better solutions to businesses in the future. These include creating a safe workspace for staff, using virtual reality or remote communication for training, helping to create a more flexible workforce and aiding in the development of innovative processes and systems.
For those businesses that haven’t invested in automation yet – or those that know they could be doing more – the pandemic has proved to be a catalyst for change. For instance, manufacturers need agile and flexible processes if they hope to survive an event such as the coronavirus outbreak.
Airedale Springs has remained open throughout the pandemic. Image courtesy of Airedale Springs
Automation is a key feature at Airedale Springs, from the cutting-edge simulation software we use to the latest CNC machines that allows us to manufacture products to our clients’ exact specifications.
Working around skills shortages
Businesses that relied mainly on personnel during lockdown saw how hard it was to stay open or to conduct business as normally as possible. Automation offers an added degree of safety that is capable of keeping businesses afloat even during the most challenging of circumstances.
Social distancing is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable, which means businesses may have to learn to perform with a reduced workforce. The industry is already suffering from a skills gap and a lack of young people interested in manufacturing, which only serves to worsen the problem.
Automation ensures that production carries on even if you’re unable to have a fully staffed premise, and it can help you to keep the quality high no matter what.
So, while the potential of personnel restrictions can lead to limited production (and even shut the facility in its entirety), an investment in automated processes and machinery, as well as on digital technologies, can provide businesses with a great deal of security and prepare them for future issues.
Diversifying supply chains
It’s clear from the outcome of the pandemic that many (if not most) businesses around the world were not ready for the massive disruption of the supply chain.
Focusing your supply chain in just one area, for example, can result in your production slowing down or stopping if factories close. This is why many manufacturers struggled when factories in China were shut down – many were relying heavily on those suppliers and were, therefore, left without key materials or products for a long time.
Investing in several, and more importantly local, supply chains is not just important to prevent supply disruptions, it’s also crucial to be able to answer spikes of productivity, such as seasonal bursts.