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5 challenges of being a manufacturer in 2018

Photo shows a worker wearing personal protective equipmentThe manufacturing industry faces many challenges year on year. It’s an important sector to both current and emerging markets.

These are the most commonly faced challenges to the industry in the UK in 2018.

  1. Manual handling and safety

Manufacturing can be a dangerous industry, and it’s vital that manufacturers are aware of health and safety regulations. According to health and safety statistics, 80,000 manufacturing workers in the UK suffer from illnesses which were caused by work.

Of the most frequent non-fatal injuries to employees, 24% are linked to lifting and handling. Manufacturers must find ways to help lower the risk of injury. It’s something which can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken. The challenge comes with trying to find solutions to help with health and safety.

To overcome this challenge, there are trolleys and trucks which can help manufacturers handle and lift heavy objects. This would help to take the strain off the worker and prevent injury.

  1. The introduction of GDPR

It’s no secret that GDPR has been making waves since it came into effect on the 25th of May, 2018. Any company that has employees, suppliers or customers in Europe must comply with the regulation.

GDPR means that the rights to manage personal data is shifted from the company to the individual. The challenge for manufacturers is that they need to know everything about the data they have concerning their employees, customers and partners. If there isn’t a legitimate reason why companies have the data, or have not received consent to use the data, the business could face a hefty fine. Particularly for manufacturers which have been trading for years, collecting and storing huge amounts of data, this isn’t easy.

Although this is a challenge, it also offers companies the opportunity to redefine and strengthen their relationships with their customers.

So, is GDPR a threat or an opportunity?

  1. Skilled labour shortage

One of the biggest challenges faced by the manufacturing industry today is the lack of skilled workers. According to research by British Chamber of Commerce, of the service sector firms hiring, the percentage reporting recruitment difficulties rose to 71% - the highest since records began. In manufacturing, the percentage of recruiting firms reporting difficulties is at its highest since Q4 2016.

The combination of an ageing workforce and growing population has led to this difficulty. To overcome this challenge, manufacturing firms need to work with local schools, colleges and universities to present apprenticeship opportunities. The ‘Apprenticeship Levy’ is a UK business levy which aims to fund three million apprenticeships by 2020. It’s vital that manufacturers look to investing in the future generation if they are to overcome the challenge of a skilled labour shortage in 2018.

  1. UK exports and Brexit

A third of manufacturing firms want to leave the UK after Brexit as they believe the instability of the move will be bad for the economy.

As EU members, companies based in the UK can freely sell their products and services anywhere else in the EU without customers having to pay additional taxes to import those goods. After Brexit, manufacturing companies will face the challenge of the change of access rights to the EU market. There may be the introduction of customs inspections and regulatory requirements increasing the time it takes to get products from country to country. The cost of moving these goods will almost certainly increase as a result of tariff or non-tariff barriers.

The main challenges Brexit will bring to manufacturing companies are customs clearance, enterprise systems, excises tax, export controls, product regulations and diverse customs.

Companies will need to have a clear and structured plan to successfully tackle these challenges.

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT)

Manufactures need to utilise the latest technology in order to stay relevant, innovative and competitive in 2018.

The biggest challenge is how best to implement IoT to achieve operational goals such as reducing costs, improving efficiency, increasing safety, supporting compliance or pushing product innovation.

There is a pressure for manufacturers to use the IoT to its full potential. It’s not enough for them to simply implement the technology into their products and service – there needs to be a strategy. Systems need to be in place to collect, analyse and translate this data. If no clear strategy is set, manufacturers will not be able to improve their decision making in a way that is beneficial.

The manufacturing industry is leading the IoT - so companies need to stay smart to the change.

If manufacturers stay aware of the challenges they face today they’ll be able to find the best solutions and continue to be successful.

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