You May Already Have the Solution to the Manufacturing Skills Gap

  • Modern Manufacturing

Recent job numbers for the U.S. economy showed continued robust hiring and employment.1 It’s a good time to be in the job market.

It’s also a great time to be in manufacturing—it’s expanding and there are a plenty of job openings.2,3 Conventional wisdom says it’s time to go out and hire people. The bad news is that finding people outside of the company can be expensive and time-consuming. In fact, manufacturers routinely state that finding the right skill set is their biggest challenge, and job applicants with relevant skills are not only hard to find but are demanding (and often receiving) top dollar when hired.4 This also makes retaining talent difficult.

What can you do about the expense and difficulty of finding the right people?

Consider a different angle: do more with the people you already have. This doesn’t mean doubling workloads. It means changing job role focus, providing a path for people to take on newer, diverse high-value jobs and removing older mundane activities (that people might be tired of doing anyway) using modern technology.

Leading manufacturers do this well. In addition to automating where they can, more importantly, they’re identifying critical business needs and aligning people to address them. For example, manufacturers are increasingly data-driven and that is only expected to grow. Using the right tools to automatically input and use data to develop streamlined business processes and make faster, more informed decisions drives greater efficiency and profit.

How do you repurpose staff when they’re already busy with their day jobs?

One strategy is moving more systems and capabilities to the cloud to free-up your best technical people. On-premise systems require that employees manage software upgrades, updates, and servers while manufacturers that use multi-tenant cloud ERP solutions are able to migrate these experts to high-value business analyst roles where they can focus on business efficiencies that drive revenue and/or save the company money.

Server maintenance goes away. Managing and maintaining software patches, updates, and upgrades go away. This frees an enormous amount of resource time to focus on value-add projects versus maintenance activities.

Case Studies in Pivoting Staff

At EG Industries, a plastic injection molding company, IT staff pivoted to address new, unmet business challenges once they moved to cloud-based ERP.

“The SaaS model in the cloud with Plex helps us alleviate a lot of the pains and headaches that come along with on-premise software. There’s so much opportunity out there to bring value to the company,” said Tony Brown, director of business systems at EG Industries.

Brown goes on to say that these IT resources now help connect systems and departments together to create greater visibility, develop tools to gather and use data more effectively, and some people even took on broader operations and plant management roles.

“We can focus more on our division’s mission statement which is ‘provide our internal and external customers with real-time actionable data for them to make timely and informed decisions.’ That’s really what this division does and what the cloud has done for us,” said Brown.

Reassigning for Roles Other Than IT

It’s just not IT staff that manufacturers can move into new roles, either. For metal stamper and fabricator G&W Products, greater control over staffing and materials meant that team reassignments became immediately possible.

“When we first put the new ERP system in, we had a lot of gains … I mean overnight,” Ken Vance, CFO, said. “The first week, the head of receiving came and told me I could reassign his staff. The software helped him know where materials and parts were and what was coming in and when, so he could manage intake by himself.”5

A study by Mint Jutras confirmed what Brown stated, that many companies approach cloud as a business strategy rather than as just a tool.6 According to that survey 70 percent of companies that moved to a SaaS solution and 87 percent that moved to the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, for example, reallocated existing resources when going to cloud versus eliminating them. The reason? The business need for these technical people was there, but it was now different and required new focus. And the way to free those resources to provide that focus was moving to cloud to free them from legacy work.

Cloud is one strategy that enables you to meet new business demands, provide growth opportunities for your best people, and better connect the business. If your business is stuck trying to find the right people to meet changing data and business demands, it might be that those people are already in the company. Heck, you might be one of them!

For more in-depth information about how technology can help pivot your existing talent resources, watch the on-demand webinar: Connected Manufacturing: The Backbone to Modern Manufacturing.



About the Author

Dave Morfas, Director of Product Marketing, Plex Systems

Dave Morfas has worked in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years with customers in Europe, Asia Pac, Latin America and North America in a variety of group management, product marketing, and product management roles. Currently Dave serves as Director of Product Marketing for Plex overseeing strategic product direction, competitive intelligence, and content marketing and creation.