The Challenges of Increased Automation and Systematic Controls

Technology and AutomationFor many years, companies across all sectors have strived to improve the quality and efficiency of their processes in order to remain competitive and achieve operational excellence. Millions of dollars have been invested into improved technologies in order to streamline activities and gain process improvements.

The technology requirements in the staffing industry, in particular manufacturing and distribution environments, differ from broader technology needs. Specifically, the functionality required for manufacturing and distribution staffing environments does not end with a filled assignment, but rather requires daily micro-management of the contingent workforce to meet ever fluctuating production demands. To do this effectively requires access to real-time data and scheduling functionality unnecessary with more static placements.

Over the past several years, there have been technological advancements in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. Advanced software and controls increase visual checkpoint systems, detect quality issues, allow the ability to automatically troubleshoot processes with little human interaction, and dramatically increase throughput. These technology enhancements have been implemented to provide companies with improved visibility and faster management of events, and provide a multitude of metrics and data for improving and understanding the performance of a workforce.

However, these technological advancements come at a cost. Besides the cost in capital expenditure, there are costs associated with increasing databases and systems to help analyze use the data. Many companies invest resources into these systems, but not the control systems and processes to actually use the data they provide. Management can be seen as “buried in a mountain of data” while IT departments stretch to be able to keep up with increased data usage and ways to functionally interpret the data. If data cannot be interpreted properly, it renders the database useless and counterproductive.

If your environment has a logistics system in place to manage distribution, that system should be able to interact with production orders and other necessary components in order to be utilized efficiently. At times, it can seem like there is a tug-of-war between using software and systems to analyze production data and obtaining the tools to effectively use those systems.

Increased pressures from consumers, executive boards and management teams are driving new technologies into manufacturing environments every day in order to stay ahead of the curve. The same systems that were designed to allow companies to meet goals and metrics can also contribute to decreased productivity if not utilized effectively. Companies are striving to meet the tasks of implementing the right amount of sustainable systems in order to systematically improve output and strive for Operational Excellence.

For more information relating to technology and manufacturing and distribution environments, take a look at the Staff Management | SMX white paper The VMS Functionality Gap: Manufacturing & Distribution’s Unique Technology Requirements.