Have you made any New Year’s resolutions yet? As we count down to 2014, there’s one resolution every manufacturer should be putting on their list to make their business more competitive: invest in better technologies.
It’s simple: Australian manufacturers need to invest in technology solutions that can make them both more efficient and more productive. Ultimately, this is the only way to compete against other manufacturers — especially in the face of increasing competition from lower-cost locations.
The problem is, a 2013 survey by the AI Group revealed that only 22% of manufacturers were looking to invest in new technologies in 2013 — down from 32% in 2012.
So can we expect new-technology spending to diminish further in 2014? We hope not! But before you get out your wallets, you first need to understand the value behind your technology investments and the importance of investing in the right technology.
Size doesn’t matter
Apple Inc., the world-leading consumer technology company, recently put a record $10.5 billion to work in new technology for its factories, vastly outspending its number-one competitor, Samsung. But you don’t need to outspend your peers by billions to stay ahead. It’s not about the price tag; it’s about the impact of the investment on the overall use of time and resources.
In other words, you need to invest in the right technology. Technology that will give you the best return-on-investment in the long run. Technology that will lead to even more process improvements and innovations. You need to ask: what technologies will result in real productivity gains for the company, and by how much?
The best way to answer this question is to stay informed. It’s easy to stick with the processes and technologies you’ve always known. After all they’ve always worked, right?
Wrong. While these technologies and processes worked yesterday and may work today, there’s no guarantee they’ll work tomorrow. To stay ahead, you need to look ahead. Benchmark your processes, practices and performance against others in your industry and constantly look for ways to improve.
Also, check out reports from the world’s top shows as a guide to best practice and the latest innovation.
Seek and you shall find
Improving productivity is about finding and embracing new ways of working to generate more value out of each hour worked. It is about challenging and streamlining processes and practices. And it’s down to you, to continuously seek out the technologies and specialists that enable you to do this.
Take Chris’ Dips. The 30-year-old family business wanted to improve its quality control processes, eliminate any potentially costly packaging errors and simultaneously enhance output and productivity. Previously, workers on each line manually and visually checked the right product was in the right tub of dip and that the barcode was correct. The company knew there must be a better way, so it did some research into technologies solutions.
Chris’ Dips chose to work with iQVision and Matthews on a solution comprising Datalogic cameras and Matthews’ iDSnet packaging automation software. Today, cameras inspect tubs and set off an immediate alert if anything is wrong. The iQVision system has saved a substantial amount in manual labour and vastly improved accuracy for Chris’ Dips.
Think outside the box
If the benefits are easy to see, why are so many manufacturers still not investing in the right technologies? For most, it comes down to “lack of budget”. But today this is not necessarily a barrier to getting what you want.
In September 2012, the Victorian Government announced that it awarded $3.4m in grants for 20 companies to invest in new technology and equipment through its Investing in Manufacturing Technology (IMT) program. Through the program, grants of up to $250,000 are available on a competitive basis to help manufacturers to buy and integrate new technologies that will improve productivity and competitiveness, strengthen capability, and encourage wider and ongoing innovation.
Abey Australia Pty Ltd received a grant of $250,000 for robots, conveyors, a 3D vision system and high-speed robot picker to automate its powder coating line. Wattle Organic Farms Pty Ltd will use its grant of $42,000 for a flow-wrapping machine capable of utilising fully compostable, shelf-friendly packaging. And Vistaprint Australia Pty Ltd received a grant of $142,500 for new cutting and packaging equipment to automate its business card manufacturing.
These are just some of the companies who “get it”. They not only recognised the advantages of investing in new technology, they found a way to make it happen. Can you say the same about your facility?
Be ready for 2014
Coming into 2014, Australian companies can’t afford to be too cautious, too comfortable or too complacent. Product ID technology experts such as Matthews provide the answers for how to do this, helping manufacturing firms stay ahead in today’s incredibly complex, competitive world. So why not give us a call and find out how we can make your New Year’s resolution to invest in better technologies come true?
See the latest New Year’s resolutions every manufacturer should make for 2018. And while the experts all had different ideas, there’s one thing upon which they all agreed: if you want to compete in 2018, you can’t afford to stand still.