Labor Shortage? Boost Resilience, Productivity, & Efficiency with MES

Jun 13, 2023 4:13:26 PM / by PlantStar Team

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Many manufacturers’ top consideration today is not reducing product prices or improving quality; its finding staff. As a result of understaffing, manufacturers are on the lookout for ways to boost worker resiliency, productivity, and efficiency. Manufacturing execution system (MES) software consolidates information, streamlines production processes, improves decision making, and integrates functions like planning, scheduling, and inventory management, helping manufacturers mitigate personnel problems.

Labor shortages are the new normal in manufacturing.

Manufacturers were experiencing staffing shortfalls before the pandemic. More individuals had already been leaving the field than entering it, but COVID-19 exacerbated this phenomenon. When it struck, many individuals took stock of their lives, didn’t like what they were doing, and sought new careers. In 2021, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—the most resignations on record.

Manufacturing companies were hit especially hard because the profession requires workers to report to the job site and interact with others, steps that many individuals felt uncomfortable with as COVID-19 circled the globe. As a result, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute expect the US manufacturing worker shortage during the next decade to reach its highest levels ever recorded, surpassing their earlier estimates of 2 million unfilled jobs from 2015–2025.

MES software helps fill the gaps.

As manufacturers adjust to this new workforce reality, MES software can provide important personnel benefits.

Replace paper with digital transactions.

Manufacturing is often an inefficient operation. Many long-established factories developed deeply entrenched, legacy business processes like manual data collection, which increases labor needs. Operations might track production efficiency with spreadsheets, paper, and even sticky notes, leaving themselves vulnerable to to errors and inaccuracies.

In today’s highly competitive global marketplace, such inefficiencies are no longer tolerable. An MES replaces manual data entry with digital interactions. An MES not only collects and consolidates performance information but also automates select functions, offloading data collection from staff to machines. As a result, personnel can spend more time brainstorming and improving operations and less on busywork, allowing manufacturers to do more with less personnel.

Improve performance with real-time reporting.

Traditionally, managers and staff understood how well a production run fared only after it was completed, examining reports after the goods had been created. Digital solutions allow manufacturers to gain real-time performance information. Suppliers can automate data collection by adding sensors or directly tapping into machines with features like programmable logic controllers and robots and display it on live dashboards. Supervisors can then monitor factory performance remotely as it occurs, intervening when needed to adapt daily plans to meet customer demands and maximize labor productivity.

Gain end-to-end visibility.

Historically, manufacturing information was housed in separate applications. The supply chain management staff worked with material information; the manufacturing team examined production run data; the distribution group monitored the flow of goods; and the back office personnel tinkered with financial information. These tasks had been separated but were all vital to product delivery and impacted each another. If a partner is late delivering a needed material, for example, the production run may be delayed. In the past, manufacturers responded to such changes only after they occurred because personnel did not have insight into what was happening in other departments. Now, they do. If materials arrive early, they can add staff and fill an order early.

Improve scheduling.

Tracking personnel has never been easy. Individuals encounter unexpected obstacles that impact their ability to get to work and complete their assignments. Staffing needs fluctuate as materials arrive and are used in a scattershot manner. An MES helps a company establish an accurate forecast and manufacturing plan. Everyone knows the unit production goals. If a worker calls in sick, an alert is sent, and managers find someone to take their place. As a result, the company is well aware of labor needs at all times, allowing it to avoid over-hiring or understaffing and stay on schedule. It can adjust more quickly to changes, minimize mistakes, and become proactive rather than reactive.

Get new employees up to speed.

Staffing is constantly in flux. Every plant experiences turnover; as experienced hands walk out the door, new help walks in. These new hires may not know the industry, let alone your products. To get new employees up to speed as quickly as possible, you need to communicate. how your company works. An MES solution speeds up the ramp-up by providing digital, intuitive information about process steps, work instructions, guides, and sign-off forms.

Manufacturers have been struggling for years to fill personnel openings. Improving employee productivity is necessary to cope with staffing shortfalls. An MES like SYSCON’s PlantStar consolidates information, providing employees with real-time visibility into workflow. With that information, suppliers can reduce manual transactions, streamline scheduling, and reduce onboarding time to maximize personnel performance. To learn more about how an MES can improve your plant’s operations, subscribe to the SYSCON PlantStar blog.

Topics: MES 101