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What Are the Top Business Priorities for Process Manufacturers?

What Are the Top Business Priorities for Process Manufacturers?

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What Are the Top Business Priorities for Process Manufacturers?

Apr 5, 2022

Daniel Erickson
Business professionals in warehouse holding a tablet device

Market unpredictability has forced many process manufacturers to simply react to what’s happening in the moment over the past two years. Reliable forward planning has been difficult to achieve. But with trading conditions set to be less turbulent in 2022, it’s an opportune time for organizations to reconfigure their priorities for post-pandemic trading.

To understand which operational areas most concern companies and where they plan to invest over the next 12 months, Aptean surveyed more than 100 North American process manufacturers for our new report, 6 Critical Challenges Process Manufacturers Must Confront.

Here are some of the key insights our research uncovered, which underline process manufacturers’ top business priorities—and how they plan to achieve them.

Addressing Staff and Skills Shortages

Recruitment is a major discussion point across the manufacturing industry as a whole, and process manufacturers are particularly concerned about staff numbers and talent availability.

4 in 10 organizations told Aptean that finding people with the right expertise is a high priority for the year ahead. Meanwhile, 35% are concerned that they won’t be able to recruit enough people to keep business operations flowing smoothly.

It’s a challenging time for manufacturers as many experienced professionals are reaching retirement age, while at the same time, digital transformation is changing the nature of manufacturing jobs. The skills required to future-proof process manufacturing companies may be different to those that have powered their success to-date—an increased emphasis on data analytics roles, for example.

While digital transformation is changing the conversation around recruitment, it can also provide a solution to the shortage of manufacturing talent. Manufacturers have an opportunity to audit what tasks and processes can be automated by manufacturing software, reducing overall headcounts and focusing on higher value career opportunities for tomorrow’s industry workforce.

In fact, our research revealed that 47% of process manufacturers are planning to conduct a skills audit over the next 12 months, to identify significant gaps within their business.

47%

of process manufacturers are planning to conduct a skills audit over the next 12 months to identify significant gaps within their business

Smarter Supply Chain and Inventory Management

Supply chain disruption was a barrier to business growth in 2021, and material availability is still in the process of normalizing. Many process manufacturers were caught out by their reliance on a particular supplier or region, and want to build greater resilience into the way they manage supplier relationships and company inventory requirements during 2022.

During our research study, we discovered that 77% of process manufacturers have needed to extend customer delivery times as a direct result of supply chain challenges, while 54% cancelled some customer orders. To address this, 88% of organizations plan to use more suppliers in 2022—as spreading orders across multiple sources mitigates risk, particularly if manufacturers combine offshore and nearshore sourcing.

Increasing flexibility in the supply chain and integrating supplier data with production scheduling and forecasting will create the connected operations needed to improve inventory management and meet customer promises. The challenge for process manufacturers will be making sure they have an end-to-end system such as process manufacturing ERP software in place that can integrate data streams and identify how changes in one area impact overall operations.

Growing and Diversifying Their Customer Base

Global events of the past 24 months have taught manufacturers not to take anything for granted—especially revenue streams. Even seemingly dependable relationships have fallen by the wayside as customers have either gone out of business, had to shut down temporarily during the pandemic, or reduced their orders to reflect a decline in demand.

That being said, business confidence is now back to its highest level since early 2020, and process manufacturers are keen to look beyond their existing customer base for opportunities to grow and diversify their offering.

While manufacturing as a whole took a hit during the pandemic, it’s worth noting that certain process manufacturing sectors experienced a growth in demand—CBD and personal care, for example—and these are the areas attracting increased interest. In fact, 91% of the organizations we surveyed expressed an interest in exploring legal cannabis/CBD manufacturing.

But whether demand has been higher or lower than average over the past two years, the challenge remains the same: every process manufacturer is eyeing the same opportunities. This increases the pressure on organizations to run efficient, quick operations, as customer service will prove a key differentiator in attracting and retaining new business.

Process manufacturers also need to prioritize compliance and quality control as part of their customer growth strategy, particularly if they are pursuing opportunities in emerging and scaling industries like CBD. Yet a third of organizations told us that they struggle to meet industry regulations currently, before contemplating further expansion.

91%

of the organizations we surveyed expressed an interest in exploring legal cannabis/CBD manufacturing

Taking a Holistic Approach to Change in Process Manufacturing

This blog post has highlighted a few of the business areas process manufacturers want to prioritize this year, and our report on the 6 Critical Challenges Process Manufacturers Must Confront contains deeper insights.

For many organizations, the challenge is not identifying where future-proofing is required, but knowing where change should start. And this is where process manufacturing ERP software comes into play.

Accelerating growth while mitigating risk is difficult to achieve without viewing your business operations holistically as part of a wider digital transformation plan. With technology investment at the core, companies can use smart manufacturing software to overcome core problems and enhance efficiency, output and innovation.

To help organizations drive performance and meet changing industry expectations, we have developed Aptean Process Manufacturing ERP, a specialist technology solution for process manufacturers.

Our ERP software contains built-in features that deliver improvements across the process manufacturing operation—from supplier management systems that integrate with inventory control, to profitability calculation tools so process manufacturing companies can focus on their most valuable products and customers.

Get in touch to book your free Aptean Process Manufacturing ERP demo. Or download our process manufacturing trends report to find out more about what’s happening in the industry this year.

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