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It is a challenging time for the Manufacturing sector, but focusing on operational efficiency can still provide the leading edge


The past few years have been challenging for the global Manufacturing sector, with both Brexit and COVID-19 creating a wide range of operational disruptions whose impact is still being felt. Indeed, as recently as January 2023, we saw UK manufacturing shrinking for the sixth consecutive month1.

At the time of writing, supply chain disruptions remain an ongoing concern, while attracting and retaining top talent is increasingly challenging, and inflation continues to take its toll on manufacturers' profits. In this highly challenging environment, efficiency is the key to success. Time-to-market for new innovations must be as short as possible, which means manufacturers must be ready to broaden their capabilities and work to maintain their edge in a competitive market. This will not only help the Manufacturing sector weather its immediate challenges, but expedite the journey to Industry 4.0, where the implementation of smart technology will open the door to a truly data-driven approach to maintaining optimal efficiency.

In other words, technology will have a key role to play if the sector is to not only survive, but thrive, which means manufacturers must take a close look at their current level of digital maturity and work with their technology partners to raise it, where necessary. However, a recent report2 revealed that there is still much work to be done here if the sector's digital journey is to bear fruit. 96% of UK manufacturers surveyed believed the sector, as a whole, has underinvested in digital transformation, while 73% believed that the limitations of legacy systems have proven more of a hindrance than Brexit.

It is clear that the drive to digitise the UK's manufacturing operations is very much present, but the path forward all-too-frequently remains unclear. We must therefore ask which areas of focus will deliver the greatest boost to operational efficiency. Based on our ongoing conversations with manufacturers across the UK, we would anticipate the following will be key trends in the months ahead:

The march of the IoT continues

The increasing deployment of smart technology across manufacturing operations is providing manufacturers with increasingly rich data streams that, if utilised effectively, will provide a significant boost to operational efficiency. Real-time tracking of machines' performance and availability will help limit downtime, while real-time monitoring of global supply chains and warehouses supports a 'just-in-time' model, enabling faster delivery while reducing costs.

Software-defined connectivity becomes the norm

A software-defined model for connectivity optimises control and visibility of the entire network, supporting modern manufacturing workflows by allowing resources to be deployed where and when they are needed, while ensuring critical applications are always given priority. When high-performance, highly secure connectivity is always readily available, manufacturers are free to adopt more agile ways of working, while still retaining full control of ongoing costs.

Cloud transformation supports big data initiatives

With manufacturing projects now encompassing multiple teams spread across highly diverse sites, maintaining fast secure access to the large, complex files utilised by manufacturers is increasingly challenging. This is compounded by the increasing complexity of protecting intellectual property and national and international compliance obligations. However, leading-edge Cloud infrastructure offers an answer to these concerns, allowing manufacturers to balance availability with security and compliance, combined with the freedom to scale up or down as required.

The digital journey yields new levels of efficiency, resilience, and innovation
There's no doubt that the journey facing the Manufacturing sector will be a challenging one, but with the support of the right technology partners, these challenges can easily provide the impetus to accelerate their digital transformation plans. This will not only provide the standard of operational efficiency required to succeed in an increasingly complex, dynamic market, but provide a strong foundation for future growth and innovation.
To explore your own level of digital maturity and how to develop a higher level of efficiency across every aspect of your manufacturing operations, just contact us.

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