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Reluctance to new technology is hurting U.S. manufacturers


Manufacturers are finding it very difficult to stay competitive in the world market for several reasons.Some of the most common reason is:

  1. The ever increasing costs of raw materials
  2. Global competition particularly with China
  3. The difficulties that are associated with finding, recruiting, training and retaining skilled employees
  4. A real lack of confidence in the world market when it comes to goods made in the U.S.
  5. An ever increasing number of government regulations
  6. The day to day problems and demands that go along with managing complex supply chains

Many experts feel however that the major problem hurting U.S. manufacturers is the growing reluctance to invest in new technology. This reluctance could be the major factor that is hurting manufacturing in the United States today.

New technologies are often left out of conversations about how to address today's manufacturers' everyday concerns. This can be incredibly unfortunate because while no technology is going to be able to address all of a manufacturer's concerns, it has the potential to at least eradicate a number of them.

That said the reluctance towards adopting new technology is understandable. Immediately, one must think of the costs that are associated with implementing new technology, the research involved in finding the right technology, the in-house processes that will potentially be required to install and maintain any new technology, and the training that will be required in order to even use the new technology.

Some manufacturers may also be concerned with the impact that new technology could have on jobs.They may be asking if the technology will replace their workforce or even make their own job obsolete.

It is important to understand that the potential costs associated with implementing new technology must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. There is simply no way to get around taking the time to research new technologies in order to find exactly the right one for your company or particular department. The good news is that during your initial research, you can determine the exact perimeters that will eliminate many of your other cost concerns.

For example, a business owner may decide not to look at technologies that are hardware based and that will require constant maintenance by their company's IT department, and instead, to consider only those solutions that are web-based and governed by a trusted outside firm. Making initial decisions like these can eliminate your concerns regarding installation and maintenance hassles, as implementing web-based technologies rather than hardware usually requires very little interaction with your company's IT department.

The truth is that while there are examples throughout history of technology replacing workers (in the automotive and agriculture industries, in particular), it happens much less than one might think. In fact, implementing new technology does not often result in mass unemployment; more often, it does the opposite, and creates many more jobs!

So, as reluctant as manufacturers may be to adopt new technologies in the manufacturing industry, they should give serious weight to the idea that they might have little choice but to adapt in order to remain, or in some cases, become, competitive. As society becomes more technology-based, there simply may be no other choice.

Luckily, most manufacturers do have plenty of choices when it comes to the technology they choose to implement. Once businesses have created the parameters that will eliminate certain cost concerns prior to comparing different technologies, they can then begin to make other comparisons. Assuming that you are looking for a big picture solution rather than a quick fix, you will likely want to ask your potential technology provider the following types of questions:

  • Will the technology provide me with a global view of all of my company's shipments?

  • How much visibility will I have when it comes to individual shipments?

  • How will the technology enable me to take control over the cost of each shipment within my supply chain?

  • Will the technology assist me in ensuring that my team follows my company's current logistics guidelines?

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