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Embracing Change & Staying Ahead with Digital Technologies

Embracing Technology for the Future of Manufacturing

Embracing digital technologies brings many benefits to manufacturers. It helps businesses to stay ahead of their competition and improve traditional processes. Technology is driving the manufacturing industry forward and helping organizations to succeed.

Manufacturers who don’t embrace and plan for digital transformation will be left behind. As with any change, going digital can seem intimidating and scary. There are misconceptions that digital transformation is costly and time-consuming. There is often resistance from business leaders and employees, who fear making changes, despite the benefits it would bring.

The most important thing to embracing change is educating and understanding. Organizations that are well-informed about the possibilities of digital transformation are more likely to succeed. Educating yourself and your workforce about what digitization could mean for your company helps alleviate fears and debunk misconceptions.

A picture of a hand holding a globe with technology themed lines.

The Fast-Paced World of Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has changed a lot over time, with most of its evolution taking place in recent years. Advances in technology have revolutionized the way manufacturers design their products.

As technology moves faster, customer expectations rise as a result. Once mass production alone seemed impressive, but now customers demand custom output on the same grand scale.

Even in the last 3 years, the industry has changed massively. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated technology in all aspects of life. Manufacturers turned to digital technologies to survive, and in some cases thrive, during and after the pandemic.

Manufacturing never stands still. Technology is, and will continue to be, a driving force behind the success of businesses.

An icon of a cog with a clock inside it.
A icon showing two hands shaking.

All Industries Are Turning to Technology

The need to adopt digital into your business is essential. Businesses are moving beyond just reaping the benefits of digitization, and are now seeing and embracing extra opportunities to excel at what they do.

There are historical examples of the success of embracing digital across many industries. Whilst Blockbuster stores closed their doors, Netflix dominated a new digital space. Uber have revolutionized the way we book and pay for taxis. Both have gone from strength to strength, finding a gap in the market and moving quickly to close it.

Digital is the future. It’s how companies can be agile to meet customer needs and expectations. It’s how business can do more with less whilst costs continue to rise.

According to Gartner, 91% of businesses are engaged in some form of digital initiative. Digitally transforming areas of your company are at the forefront of organizational growth.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Whilst there are many benefits to digital transformation, resistance from employees is a common barrier to success.

Employee resistance to changes happens when individuals are unwilling to adapt to new ways of doing things. The fear of the unknown is sometimes too much, especially for those having to learn new skills. There are often fears around changing things that already work. Those who are comfortable with their current processes can be resistant to make changes and improvements.

There is also a misconception that digitizing areas of a company mean a loss of jobs. Digital technologies actually make monotonous jobs easier by freeing up employee time, enabling them to work more efficiently and dedicate time to more creative, valuable tasks.

Recognising this fear amongst employees is the first step to helping them overcome it. Employers should explain how technology can make the day-to-day tasks of their employees easier. Human and digital workforces should work hand in hand, to make entire business systems work better.

Acknowledging fears can make employees feel valued and listened to. Adopting new tools and technologies is the ideal opportunity for individuals to learn new skills, the valuable skills necessary for a future ready workforce.

Employees will be the individuals working with your digital tools, and it is important to value their opinion and show willing to work with them to make decisions. Even those who seem as though they are the most sceptical may give the best feedback.

Supporting employee shift to new ways of working is important to ensuring the success of digital transformation.

One of the biggest misconceptions about digital transformation is the idea that absolutely everything will change all at once, and that workforces will have to adapt quickly to an entirely new way of working. It is important to support the learning and development of employees through times of change and think about what is best for the company overall.

Starting small is a great way to see how incremental gains can benefit your organisation while allowing employees to try and grasp technologies at a good pace.

Champion Automation Rather Than Fear It

People should take relief in the thought that industries will always need humans. Particularly within manufacturing, people are needed to do what they do best- innovate. The more that technology encompasses our world and the way we do things, the more people are needed to make technological-based demands happen.

Automation has been shown to have a positive effect on jobs, as those working with digital machines are more productive than those without.

Automation isn’t limited to machinery and equipment. Business Process Automation and Design Automation enable businesses to reduce mundane tasks and the possibility of errors, work smarter, and increase efficiencies.

Understanding the capabilities of automation in a workplace can help employers and workforces reap the benefits it has to offer. Automating tasks across an organization increases operational and economic efficiency. Customer experiences are also improved as lead times are shorter and errors are reduced. Team members are more productive and have better job satisfaction.

Employees can choose to embrace digitalization, learn it and use it, and become experts in it – or their skills will become outdated. Employees who embrace, learn, use and champion digital transformation are the ones who will carry skills that could accelerate their careers.

Those embracing the change by learning and developing skills in digital are often better off in the long run.

Testing Before Investing

Digital transformation doesn’t have to be expensive. A scalable approach is both cost-effective and low-risk. These things could feel like minor adjustments but they often pay off straight away. Once youve identified these quick wins, and youve started to see the changes paying off, you can build on this to do more.

When planning out your approach to digital, it’s often difficult to know where to start and what will work. Look for free versions of a tool so you can try it out first and see how useful it is for you and your teams. Free versions offer entry-level functionality to help you identify what you need from a tool to reach your goals. You can also use free trial periods to test out features, and give you a head start on implementing a tool. Free versions and free trials are a great way of figuring out what works for you, before committing to a tool and investing time and money.

Some digital technologies also provide ROI calculators so you can calculate how quickly you will see a benefit. See how quickly you could benefit and save from DriveWorks with our ROI calculator.

You might even be able to do more with the existing technologies you already have. Ask yourself, what technologies do you already have in your business? Are you using them to their full potential? Are there features and functionality youre not using? Does one team use a digital tool that would also be useful for another team? Do you have access to additional tools that youre not using? For example, if you have SOLIDWORKS, are there any Xpress products you could use? Xpress tools are available free with all SOLIDWORKS desktop licenses.

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Improving Customer Experiences

This introduction of digital, like with previous revolutions we’ve seen in the manufacturing industry, isn’t just creating benefits for businesses. It’s improving customer experiences too.

Technology is changing the way consumers and businesses research and buy products. Digital technologies enable more immersive buying experiences. Customers can make changes, personalize options and visualize their selections. This detailed information eliminates costly and time-consuming changes later on in the process.

Automation means buying journeys are also faster and less prone to errors. Connecting data between company systems results in accurate pricing and delivery information. Order details can be sent directly to manufacturing, speeding up lead times and improving accuracy.

Customer expectations are higher than ever. Digital transformation enables organizations to meet rising customer demands profitably, without needing huge teams and budgets.

By meeting customer expectations with the help of technology, businesses will see how being more digital benefits all areas of the business. Satisfied customers increase retention, which keeps businesses thriving. Workforces can then see the value of digital and understand its longevity.

DriveWorks Technical Manager, Dave Meecham.

Dave Meecham

Technical Manager, DriveWorks

“During my time in industry I often encountered the phrase “but we’ve always done it this way”.
Overcoming this attitude is always a challenge, but without exception always worth the effort. Engineers want to create and innovate, embracing digital tools for the mundane same but different tasks provides the time for innovation.
Use this time to tackle those new concepts and ideas you’ve always had in mind “if only I had the time for this it could be fantastic!”.”

How are DriveWorks Customers Embracing Technology?

A graphic showing the benefits that DriveWorks customer, F H Brundle benefits from DriveWorks software. Text contains: "Our sales staff are saving valuable time and our customer service is better than ever.'', Customers and distributors can impress their own customers using Liveconfigurator, Customers can get a quote anytime, 24/7/365. Product information is also readily available for a wide choice of options, With every order, customers receive everything they need, including technical information, instructions, a detailed list of parts and technical drawings.

F.H. Brundle is a family-owned business, founded in 1889, they are wholesalers of steel products which includes a market-leading range of handrail and balustrade systems. F.H. Brundle stocks over 8,500 products, and new lines are continuously being added.

Since implementing DriveWorks, F.H. Brundle has benefitted by:

  • Trade customers save time estimating, quoting and drawing
  • Staff and customers automatically receive technical documentation
  • They have developed Liveconfigurator, an online 3D configurator for their internal teams, distributors and customers.
  • Customers can configure and get a quote anytime, 24/365

Find out more about how F. H. Brundle is automating with DriveWorkshere.