Road Report: Automate Processes Ruthlessly. Stay Competitive.

Automate Manufacturing Processes

I recently had the chance to attend Industry Week’s Manufacturing & Technology (IWMT) conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. I love hanging out at these shows, seeing the latest innovations (3D Printing, autonomous vehicles, and advanced robotics were some of my standouts this year), and meeting industry practitioners. Raleigh didn’t disappoint on any of these fronts.

As I spoke with attendees and listened to speakers, a few topics jumped out at me. Of all the recurring themes one seemed particularly pressing – a shortage of skilled workers and the ongoing development of the manufacturing workforce.

Industry Week’s Manufacturing & Technology

Chris Mapes, CEO and President of Lincoln Electric, discussed “Automation and Education: Addressing the Nation’s Skill Gap.” Regarding automation, Chris talked about the importance of identifying the needlessly difficult and/or tedious parts of the work we do and streamlining these processes. Is it any surprise that Millennial workers who seem born with cell phones in hand are turned off by jobs that still rely on manually recorded paper travelers?

A number of conversations I enjoyed during the week touched on topics like automating manual processes, delivering the right information at the right time to operators, and modernizing and mobilizing the way our teams do work.

Back in Denver, I’ve been thinking about these topics in the context of conversations we have with customers on a daily basis. Although TrackVia can’t magically produce new fully-trained employees (that would be a killer app though…), we clearly have a lot to offer on the automation front.

TrackVia has been helping customers digitize manual processes for more than a decade (firsthand former customer experience speaking here). The organizations that are ruthless about automating these processes will enjoy significant advantages, not just from an execution standpoint, but also as it relates to the war for talent. I believe that selecting a technology platform that allows business subject matter experts to rapidly digitize manual processes without the need for IT development is a critical part of this automation strategy.

Automation and education remain huge challenges as we approach the end of the 21st century’s second decade. Personally, I’m really optimistic about our ability to make progress here. I’ve met so many brilliant people in the manufacturing sector that are committed to finding solutions and I feel like they’re finally being empowered with the tools that will allow them to put these ideas into practice.

Are these topics priorities at your company? I’d love to hear ideas about best practices and strategies for addressing the skills gap, especially creative ways you’ve applied technology to help with solutions.


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