by Louis Columbus

Bottom Line: Manufacturers are achieving only 40% of their potential because they’re spending too much valuable time manually updating inventory control, production reporting, and pricing reports, when their competitors using real-time data are busy winning deals and planning next-generation real-time factories 

Manual Reporting Creates Mediocre Results 

Relying only on manually-produced reports, manufacturers are able to use at best 40% of their production capacity based on interviews and plant visits completed in the last six months. The pace of sales cycles, competitors, and pricing decisions, all driven by buyer’s compressed timeframes for making purchasing decisions, is a primary factor. A second factor is the volume of data a typical manufacturer produces in a given day of operations. Relying entirely on manual updates to reports, spreadsheets and schedules isn’t fast enough to capture and capitalize on all relevant data and opportunities. 

The truth is manually-based manufacturers who are slow to respond to quotes (if they ever respond at all), slow to move on pricing, or make production decisions aren’t considered by buyers anyone. They’re left out of opportunities because buyers don’t consider them in the first place. Here are a few examples of how manual reporting creates mediocre results every day:

  • It takes 6 months or longer to on-board new production engineers & planners due to the number of systems and data sources they need to do their jobs at a specialty products manufacturer. 
  • Production scheduling teams spend the majority of the time acquiring, cleaning, and preparing data prior to data analysis and rarely if ever, have time to optimize schedules. 
  • An industrial equipment manufacturer relies on swivel-chair integration or having their engineers swivel from one screen to the next to update production schedules form a homegrown MRP system to Excel spreadsheets.
  • A plastics contract manufacturer at 40% capacity is struggling to get more business because production engineering is too busy doing reports to respond to quotes.

Lack of Trust Is Locking Manufacturers Out Of Real-time Opportunities To Improve   

Data gaps create distrust, and poorly implemented enterprise systems fuel it. That’s why so many manufacturers reject the idea of implementing new production systems. Sales cycles keep accelerating, and pricing keeps getting more volatile, buyers’ timeframes keep getting shorter, making real-time data necessary to survive today. Manually-based businesses I’ve spoken with are the most confident about two things: their product quality, and customers repurchasing from them next year. Manufacturers who only rely on manually-based reporting are deluding themselves if they think they can hold onto customers in a real-time world. When their competitors are retrofitting existing plants, building smart factories or both, it’s time for the over-reliance on manual reporting to end.