Manufacturing challenges and how to overcome them

Almost all staff at Gradient have valuable Manufacturing experience in their portfolio. We also work on many projects for those in the Manufacturing space. As such, we have grown a passion for understanding and making recommendations for business transformation on the shop floor.

Despite the decline in contribution to the UK GDP, the UK remains the ninth largest manufacturing state in the world. According to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), ‘the UK’s industrial sector has increased by 1.4% a year since 1948’. With reliance on consistent and somewhat stable growth also brings several challenges.

Attracting Talent

Arguably the biggest challenge in the industry right now is attracting young and fresh talent. Naturally, as experienced, long-serving staff members come to retire, companies need to invest time to replace them. It was once common that when choosing what to be when they grow up, children would follow in their fathers’ footsteps. The Kronos 2018 Manufacturing Day Survey conducted online by The Harris Poll in September 2018 surveyed 1,004 U.S. parents of children under 18 to explore their perceptions of the manufacturing industry as well as priorities regarding their child’s future career path. A key takeaway from the survey is as follows:

‘Compared to the majority of parents who would be likely to encourage their child to consider a career in a technology (88%) or engineering (82%) field, only 49% would be likely to encourage their child to consider a career in manufacturing.’ – Source: Kronos.

Pursuing a career in manufacturing would most likely fulfil a parent’s want for their child to have a successful career; they just don’t know it. It is this perception that is hindering the uptake of the jobs available. Manufacturing companies need to get creative to attract the next generation of workers. Millennials aren’t only looking for a career. They want to work for a company with a positive, forward-looking, employee-focused culture.

ERP systems can provide real-time analytics on a range of devices, including and not limited to smartphones and tablets. Having this offering to potential employees could put your company above others in terms of recruitment. Flexible and agile working could be an elite benefit to offer and attract young people to your company. Today, people are beginning to expect to be able to work from anywhere at any time. Although manufacturing processes have a requirement mostly on the premises, the demand is there for business insights to be accessed away from the shop floor. Not only accessed but also input, removing the need to re-key critical details, manage the data on a paper trail or a system unlinked to the central database.

Business Growth Management

A business which has grown or is growing could refer to so many activities and might not be covered in the list below:

  • Sales demand has increased
  • You have expanded your product line
  • Site expansion
  • Acquisitions and mergers
  • Sales are moving into new territories (locations)

Although a growing business is a fantastic achievement, it doesn’t come easy and often is packaged up with some growing pains and challenges to overcome.

Having an efficient ERP solution in place is a top priority in creating a seamless workflow that won’t interfere with the company growth strategy. But will instead propel it. The systems available to manufacturers can integrate seamlessly with bespoke applications, and there is certainly not one size fits all.

Customer Service (CRM)

Your customers lie at the heart of your business and keeping them satisfied is key to your success. The environment today is harsh; there is no doubt about it. Rising material costs, finance belts tightening, increasing lead times and a growing number of competitors. Customer service is a challenging area that must remain a critical business priority for your business to grow.

You can help your customer service representatives to serve your customers better. An ERP solution will supply and allow you to input up-to-date information and will facilitate real-time updating of all data. When dealing with customers, customer service reps can rely on accurate data from the system, allowing them to deal with queries most efficiently.

Decrease Costs

As a business grows, it can become increasingly difficult to calculate key performance metrics such as sales margins and company profit. Allow your business to reduce costs without cutting corners. There are many back-office tasks you can automate with an ERP system, ultimately reducing administrative costs.

Real-time data leads to agility

Accessing real-time data on the go, from anywhere in the world, is a significant plus point. Do you have staff in the field? Alternatively, are employees travelling to client sites around the world? With the right solution, you can give them the ability to access all the information they need, 24/7/365.


Business growth inevitably brings more or longer processes. Business processes often perform with the support of numerous different software packages. For example, the accounts team will use specific software for invoicing and expenses, and then the sales team are using a different method for recording sales figures. As it becomes too much to handle, you might notice data becomes more complex to deal with, and errors occur. Have you ever considered integrating all of the methods into one?

An ERP system can run a business on one single database. Every single department in your company can work on the same platform — from inventory management to accounts, HR and customer services. The system will be designed to streamline company processes whilst also providing a shared database that will support multiple functions across the business.

Overcome your challenges

The concept of ERP, when applied to business travels in a complete circle. The manufacturing industry is highly competitive, and you need the right business tools to overcome the challenges we have outlined. Equally, to achieve success by making informed and strategic decisions, you also need an appropriate solution to give you a reliable output of data. The bottom line – with the right systems in place, you can overcome the challenges you are bound to face if you haven’t already encountered them. In the case you are sitting on the fence, give us a call, and we can sit down with you to discuss your challenges.