Only last year, industry body EEF found that more than a quarter of UK manufacturers lagged behind rivals because they invest less in innovation. This has resulted in them struggling to remain competitive, particularly in today’s globalised economy.
With that in mind, it’s great to see that one year on, the manufacturing industry is taking steps towards changing this. EEF’s research from June this year found that it is now investing more heavily in technology and skills to help boost productivity. The idea behind this investment is to drive competition today, and secure future growth in the industry.
While this will have a positive impact, there is a lot more manufacturers should be doing. By following the below three steps, they can make this development faster, smoother and more effective.
- Forge relationships
In today’s global economy, markets are complex and barriers to smooth operation are endless – language, legal and consumer preference to name a few. Industry knowledge and understanding of each of the markets is important for manufacturers who want to continue to grow.
Having all this expertise in house is almost an impossible task and so forging the right business relationships is key. Partners who have specific tech know how can help remove any headaches that arise as a result of changing legislation for example. By building the right relationships, complexity can be eliminated, enabling manufacturers to concentrate on increasing productivity.
- Understand your customers
If manufacturers are to effectively serve customers beyond the core products they offer, they must look to build a better understanding of them. Knowing their customer, understanding what they do and the challenges they face is a good starting point. But this should be extended to include having a deep knowledge of the industry in which they operate.
This will not only help to solve short time crises but through a consultative and integrated approach, this will also mean they can better support in the long term, planning for growth and strategic change.
- Simplify the supply chain
Traditionally, most supply chains were designed from the factory outwards and focused on optimising supplier operations, particularly in terms of cost and efficiency. The rules of competition are changing though – customers are more demanding, products are more easily copied and markets are commoditised.
This has resulted in increasing customer complexity and changing competition, presenting UK manufactures with a new challenge. In order to truly succeed, manufacturers need to reduce the number of suppliers. By consolidating these and being more open and transparent, manufacturers will quickly build trust with customers which will help them increase productivity.
The increased investment in UK manufacturing is a step in the right direction and will undoubtedly result in greater productivity. However, there is still a lot more they can do. This development will be a lot more effective if they review how they do business. Forging the right business relationships, gaining an understanding of the pain points their customers face and making the supply chain as simple as possible will future proof the UK’s manufacturing industry.
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