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Manufacturers: How to Produce More with Fewer People

In tight labor markets, manufacturers are often faced with too few qualified applicants to fill all the available jobs. Moreover, they have to pay higher costs for those who are hired to prevent them from leaving for a competitor. Ultimately, profits start falling. In a labor market like the one West Michigan has been experiencing in recent years, it seems next to impossible to increase production and drive profit margins back up without going through an endless stream of people.

It’s all about learning to do more with what you have.

Your technology could be the answer.

Keeping Up Even When Your IT is Down

In the just-in-time manufacturing market, there’s no room for error or downtime. You can’t afford to have surplus inventory sitting on your shelves. Materials for new products and already-assembled products need to continue moving down the line or the production line backs up and you’re in real trouble.

Further, how much would it cost you in lost sales, unproductive payroll, unfulfilled orders and angry customers if your systems or production line went down? One of our Michigan manufacturing clients have said outages can cost as much as $3,400 per hour in product value.

Sometimes technology, especially when it isn’t working, seems like a necessary evil. In reality, it should be a benefit and productivity-enhancer for your business. Further, it should take off some of the pressure placed on your employees when you’re lacking a full staff.

There are several ways proactive technology management can position your business for growth,  especially in our heated job market where the unskilled labor force is less than reliable.


Here are six steps to take to increase production using technology:


  1. Document everything. Developing written processes, creating electronic manuals and computer-based training takes some of the labor out of training new employees and build institutional knowledge.


  1. Automate what you can. Depending on your size, you may be able to utilize new robotics functions to automate part of your workload.


  1. Start working remotely. Many roles can now be made remote. Engineers, high-level managers and even some support staff can now work from anywhere, allowing you to search for employees without geographic limitation.


  1. Outsource your IT management. If you haven’t already partnered with an IT provider, this is a great time to reduce the costs of hiring, training and keeping internal IT staff by doing so.


  1. Implement cybersecurity solutions. Most downtime isn’t caused by hardware failure. It’s caused by a successful cyberattack.


  1. Use industry-specific software. Moving away from general office tools to industry-specific solutions can speed your employees and processes.


These steps have helped a number of our West Michigan manufacturing clients.

One of our clients grew from under 50 employees to over 250 with a few strategic investments in their technology. Macatawa Technologies set them up for remote work using a VPN, cloud servers, and hosted phone systems, so they could have employees work from home. We secure and monitor their network proactively, preventing a lot of the problems that many manufacturers otherwise have. If they ever do have downtime, they know they have a trusted partner they can rely on to remediate issues quickly.

An expert-staffed, industry-experienced IT managed service provider can be of great value and help when you’re faced with trying to increase production in a tight labor market. We can even make your company more attractive by making your technology run efficiently and effectively which results in much happier employees.


How Macatawa Technologies Can Help You

As long-term partners of our manufacturing clients, Macatawa Technologies helps owners and leaders understand the role technology can play in achieving their business goals. Our response times, according to our manufacturing clients, are faster than that of competitors.

We’re based in Holland and proudly help Michigan manufacturers develop an IT strategy that keeps their businesses growing and grows with their businesses.

Let’s discuss how we can help you achieve your goals of expanding. Contact Macatawa Technologies here or by phone at (616) 394-4940.


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