The manufacturing industry has experienced (and continues to experience) significant acceleration of innovation and complexities. For those looking to keep up with these ongoing changes, a digital transformation project should be at the very top of the priority list. This is because digital transformation doesn’t just mean you’re staying on pace with the rest of the industry, it also means that you’re future-proofing your business by optimising operations in order to meet changing expectations of the modern customer and distributor.
Why Manufacturers Need Digital Transformation
While it’s a fact that most industries would benefit from digital transformation, this holds especially true for the manufacturing industry. Modernising your operations can help alleviate common pain points and challenges including:
- Legacy systems that don’t integrate with new technologies
- Inadequate customer journeys and low customer satisfaction
- Large amounts of siloed data and information that affect important decision-making
- The inability to remain competitive as markets grow
- High costs to offer quality after-sales customer support
- The inability to provide good and timely service due to labour shortages and skilled labour gaps
- Outdated processes and operations that result in resource-consuming customer support
A digital transformation doesn’t just reduce the common manufacturing challenges of today, it also helps you adapt faster to changes that will inevitably happen in the future — a characteristic that has become critically important in manufacturing.
5 Reasons to Begin Your Digital Transformation Today
If easing pain points isn’t enough of a push toward digitisation, there are also many positive outcomes that go beyond minimising common industry challenges. In this next section, we’ll take a look at five additional reasons to focus on your digital strategy as soon as possible.
Reason #1: Maximise Revenue and Reduce Costs
Digital transformation isn’t just a necessary investment to meet the changing demands of consumers; it’s also an excellent opportunity to grow revenue and save money. This is largely made possible with solutions that focus on automation and allow users to complete simple tasks on their own. Both of these concepts help grow revenue and reduce costs by increasing productivity for faster turnaround, reducing manual errors that can be costly, and helping more users without needing more staff.
Because of this, one of the most important first steps in digital transformation for manufacturers is in self-service solutions. Self-service helps empower customers to manage their own accounts, access knowledge bases, and solve simple problems independently. This works to improve customer experience and encourage loyalty, all while taking additional stresses away from customer service teams. Self-service solutions also allow manufacturers to deliver:
- Simplified order processing for customers, employees, and partners, which drives more sales
- Personalised and tailored digital content like FAQs, supporting documents, and product recommendations
- On-demand help to meet or exceed standard customer expectations
Reason #2: Future-Proof Your Processes and Operations
When the pandemic began, organisations across all industries faced unprecedented challenges. Manufacturers were no exception to this. Many faced shipping delays, labour shortages, vendor loss, and other sudden supply chain disruptions. Digital transformation can help manufacturers remain agile and adjust operations quickly, resulting in less downtime which would otherwise be a significant cost to the business. A few examples include:
- Creating accurate and real-time processing updates
- Digitalising operations for more seamless workflows
- Integrating supply chain partners to adjust to demand
- Providing knowledge bases to enhance onboarding processes for new vendors
Reason #3: Improve Supplier Relationships
With competition growing in the industry, managing partnerships can be a key aspect to creating loyal suppliers that have your best interests in mind. But even with the best intentions, relationships can be diminished without modern technologies in place. Digital transformation redesigns the once exhausting and limited communication between buyers and suppliers. Supplier portals securely store sensitive documentation and digital communications to help keep everyone on the same page. Suppliers will benefit from added visibility that offers transparency about product updates, shipping processes, and organisational priorities. Digital technology allows manufacturers to make themselves more available to their suppliers without increasing their own workload or sacrificing resources.
Reason #4: Capture Big Data to Make Better Business Decisions
The best decisions can only be made when leaders have complete data available at their fingertips. Digital transformation enables accurate data to be collected and analysed, enabling manufacturing leaders to make critical decisions. With real-time and up-to-date information, data is captured more efficiently and accurately, allowing leaders to make informed recommendations quicker and with less risk.
Reason #5: Implement Predictive Maintenance to Reduce Costly Setbacks
Operational efficiency is what keeps a manufacturing company running smoothly. While there are many factors that affect and contribute to operational efficiency, one essential aspect is that all machinery is working as it should. Predictive maintenance offers new technology that uses data analytics to gauge the condition of different machinery. With more emerging technologies that help the manufacturing process and production stay on track, a smart factory can prevent losses by avoiding downtime. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that unplanned machine downtime is costing those in the manufacturing sector about $50 billion a year.
Predictive maintenance not only helps a manufacturer improve operational efficiency, it also keeps machine repair costs lower. According to Tech Native, by gathering data with digital solutions, smart manufacturing can detect faults early on before they lead to damage or failures. This means that costly repairs and machine failures are reduced, and the supply chain can continue a smooth workflow.
How to Start Your Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
An entire digital transformation strategy can feel like a large task to take on for an already complex manufacturing industry. However, prioritising phases of your digital strategy can help make the task feel less intimidating. A digital transformation priority list for manufacturing may look like this:
- Set up self-service for business operations
- Combine and unify all digital touchpoints with integration solutions
- Provide innovative B2B experiences
You can get a more in-depth look at how to create a B2B digital customer strategy in our Step-By-Step Guide For Manufacturers.
Liferay offers digital solutions specifically designed for the manufacturing industry that can help you through each of these stages. From self-service functionalities to supplier portals to integration solutions, Liferay makes digital transformation simple and tangible. Learn more about digital experience solutions for manufacturers and distributors by connecting with Liferay today.