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How Productivity Improvements Help Manufacturers Take on Labor Challenges

July 29, 2022

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Consulting firm Deloitte reports an estimated shortfall of 2.1 million skilled jobs by 2030. Despite the headwinds making it difficult to attract and retain employees, ERP software that powers digital transformation in areas like production, finance, and supply chain is also a strategic tool for recalibrating your workforce.

Streamline Staffing While you Streamline Processes

Plant floor productivity not only reduces overall operations costs, but also creates opportunities to accomplish more with fewer people, reduces the need to backfill roles, and frees up employees to apply their skills in areas more value to the organization—and more rewarding for them.

Productivity improvements, like automated changeovers and automatic part counts, helps provide more accurate, real-time information that enables faster, better decision-making. In turn, reducing the downtime waiting for data to be analyzed and decisions to be made helps recalibrate overall labor requirements.

ERP systems also help reduce labor on the plant floor by:

  • Reducing onboarding time through automating data collection.
  • Using touchscreen interfaces to provide easy access to drawings and work instructions.
  • Tracking process parameters at the machine so you can identify parts that need replacement, preventing unexpected downtime and wasted labor and resources downstream.
  • Providing real-time performance metrics that motivate employees.
  • Collecting data to analyze employee performance and identify training opportunities.

An issue that plagues most manufacturers is re-entering data multiple times and downloading data from one system to analyze and then upload it to another system. These disparate systems require employees to perform tedious, manual tasks that could be accomplished faster and more accurately through automation. In addition to streamlining and automating processes, ERP software also improves efficiency by:

  • Centralizing data, i.e., removing silos, to provide visibility across the entire organization, helping the business operate more efficiently overall.
  • Providing employees with the flexibility of anywhere/anytime access via an ERP solution.
  • Inputting data only once and disseminating it to all business areas.
  • Setting up automatic alerts to inform managers of any exceptions so issues can be immediately addressed.

Core Principles for Improving Workforce Productivity

Don’t use a human do what an ERP system can.

A tool like EVA, the Epicor Virtual Assistant, can answer common questions to minimize disruption to your staff. Scanning purchase orders and invoices and using OCR software to input the data reduces manual entry time and increases the accuracy of reports, emails, letters, and alerts, which can be generated and distributed automatically.

Let data drive decision-making.

Remove the fear of performance reviews and error investigation. Build a company culture that values productivity tracking as an opportunity to collectively learn and treats mistakes as valuable triggers for performing root cause analysis. Identifying wasted time starts a productive conversation about how to eliminate that waste.

 Rely on self-service apps.

Make the onboarding process and ongoing training more efficient, consistent, and easy for employees. For example, Epicor Learning Center is a web-based learning management system that delivers, tracks, and manages training needs from one central location. Courses and tests are organized into role-based agendas, helping employees quickly master required skills.

For insights on how manufacturing execution systems (MES), can help address the labor shortage intelligently, check out this blog post.