2015 manufacturing outlook—optimism, expansion, and hurdles.
Editor's note: This article introduces the white paper "2015 Guide to Manufacturing Software."
For all manufacturing industries, growth remains top of mind. Post-recession cautiousness has given way to confidence and more ambitious business goals. From automotive to fashion, more manufacturing leaders are ready to take bigger risks in the hopes of bigger payoffs, and optimism is the highest it's been in years.
Recent studies show that 44% of automotive CEOs believe the global economy is improving (nearly three times the previous year's figure), while the same percentage of UK manufacturers expect increased growth in the coming months.
What is fueling this confidence among manufacturers? Thankfully, more than wishful thinking. Nearly 40% of businesses have reported an increase in total orders. Domestic order volume is at its highest since 1995, and export orders have grown by 17%.
This is great news for the job market. More than half of manufacturers plan to hire new employees over the next year, in addition to increasing their operational spending, according to a report from PwC. In that report, manufacturers stated that their top three priorities for increased spending are: new product or service introductions, research and development, and information technology.
For manufacturers, spending on information technology is definitely paying off. According to a recent Manufacturing.net article, software is helping to increase efficiency and production in manufacturing. By deploying the right solutions in your organization, you can not only overcome common operational challenges—you can secure growth.
Top Concerns for Manufacturers in 2015 and Beyond
Finding and managing growth
Companies of all sizes are exploring niche and emerging markets, while looking into "re-shoring" to domestic factories as a viable option.
Recruiting and retaining talent
Finding talent continues to be challenging in manufacturing. In fact, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers predicts the shortage of skilled factory workers to reach 3 million this year due to retirement.
Accelerating speed to market
Customers continue to expect more, which is forcing manufacturers to implement faster turnaround times, 24/7 facilities, and customer-focused analytics that help them operate more efficiently.
Improving quality and program controls
Customers demand precision from order to delivery and expect vendors to proactively solve regulation and compliance challenges.
Creating a competitive advantage
To fight brand commoditization, manufacturers need to accelerate product releases and jumpstart innovation, while balancing speed and affordability.
To help manufacturers choose the right software in a rapidly changing industry landscape, this guide will explore four key technologies that are essential to any successful manufacturing operation:
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
- EAM (Enterprise Asset Management)
- CPQ (Configure Price Quote)
- SCM (Supply Chain Management)
We'll discuss the market trends increasing the need for adoption of each technology, provide a "shopper's checklist" of essential features and functions, and share success stories from real-life industry leaders. This guide will also outline how Infor's industry-specific software and cloud-based technology are helping global companies thrive.
Enterprise Resource Planning
The manufacturing sector is seeing an increase in sales, profits, and productivity, due in large part to factors like product specialization, reshoring, and increasing consumer demand. Yet these opportunities are not without challenges that can be difficult for even the most established companies to address, particularly if key business systems like ERP and supply chain management haven't been continually modernized to keep up with the pace of change.
"Outdated ERP can leave you dangerously out of touch," reads an article in Business Computing World. "A lack of available business information can become a significant problem, no matter how many spreadsheets and workarounds have been developed."
It's important to note, however, that the manufacturing technology landscape now extends well beyond traditional core systems. Newer technologies, like social collaboration and cloud computing, are also fast becoming business imperatives. Within the new generation of manufacturing systems that these innovations make possible, customer conversations have become the currency of business activity. It's also easier than ever to connect applications, people, equipment, and data to create product breakthroughs at a speed that would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago. But turning the potential of modernized solutions into tangible business benefits requires a companywide commitment.
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