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The manufacturing challenges in 2018 were evident. It’s an important sector to both current and emerging markets.

These are the most commonly faced manufacturing challenges to the industry in the US in 2018.

1.   Manual handling and safety

Manufacturing can be a dangerous industry, and it’s vital that manufacturers are aware of health and safety regulations. According to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, in the last recorded year, there were approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers.

Of the most frequent non-fatal injuries to employees by most common accidents, a larger proportion are linked to lifting and handling. Manufacturers must find ways to help lower the risk of injury. It’s something which can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken. The challenge comes with trying to find solutions to help with health and safety.

To overcome this challenge, there are trolleys and trucks which can help manufacturers handle and lift heavy objects. This would help to take the strain off the worker and prevent injury.

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2.   Skilled labor shortage

One of the biggest manufacturing challenges faced by the industry today is the lack of skilled workers. According to a survey conducted by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP, approximately 22% of skilled manufacturing workers (almost 2.7 million valued employees) will be retiring within the next 10 years. In addition, another 700,000 workers will be needed due to industry growth.

The combination of an aging workforce and growing population has led to this difficulty. To overcome this challenge, there are a few options manufacturers could consider – including:

  • programs to develop your lower-skilled employees into more valuable workers
  • communication and planning ideas aimed at keeping some of your older highly skilled employees around past the date they might otherwise choose to retire
  • partnerships with community colleges and other educational institutions that can make entry-level hiring less risky and increase early-months productivity of workers; and resources available for companies interested in apprenticeship programs.

3.   The Internet of Things (IoT)

Manufacturers need to utilize the latest technology in order to stay relevant, innovative and competitive in 2018. The biggest challenge is how best to implement IoT to achieve operational goals such as reducing costs, improving efficiency, increasing safety, supporting compliance or pushing product innovation.

There’s a pressure for manufacturers to use the IoT to its full potential. It’s not enough for them to simply implement the technology into their products and service – there needs to be a strategy. Systems need to be in place to collect, analyze and translate this data. If no clear strategy is set, manufacturers will not be able to improve their decision making in a way that is beneficial.

The manufacturing industry is leading the IoT – so companies need to stay smart to the change. If manufacturers stay aware of the challenges they face today, they’ll be able to find the best solutions and continue to be successful.

4.   Maintaining the right inventory levels

Facing inventory challenges are common in the manufacturing industry. It’s difficult for manufacturers to stay organized and calm in the midst of chaos.

To help maintain the right inventory levels, manufacturers can use real-time tracking throughout the whole production process. Through serialized barcode, it’s possible to see the location and quantity of goods. The tracking software can provide precise updates of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished products. It’s possible from this to keep inventory accuracy at an all-time high level.

So to overcome the challenge of inventory, companies need to look into systems that can support more efficient operations and more efficient to save costs and increase service levels.

5.   Robotics and automation change

Technology is advancing and the demand for it is increasing. Manufacturers are under more pressure than ever to fulfill large orders and deliver the goods.

Efficiency has never been more important, so many are turning to modern robotics and automation in order to improve production rates. From 2010 to 2016, nearly 137,000 robots were shipped to US customers — the most in any seven-year period in the US robotics industry. The problem comes with the fact that robotics are expensive and unaffordable for many companies. To help with this problem, there are companies which are now offering robotics as a service. This means that those businesses which can’t afford the robotics outright can rent the robots and quickly use them as part of their workforce.

Despite the manufacturing challenges, the industry remains important to the US economy. So, manufacturers need to stay aware and look for solutions.