Out-of-date technology can waste up to 46% of manufacturers' working days a year

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Technology is often the backbone of many manufacturing businesses, powering growth, efficiency and adaptability. However, internal systems and software can cause many challenges for business owners and employees if not monitored and appropriately reviewed.

From out-of-date devices to historical platforms that no longer serve a purpose and processes that are not aligned across a business, software development company Propel surveyed UK office-based workers to determine their daily challenges with technology.

The research revealed that almost three in 10 (28%) of those working in manufacturing admit out-of-date software cause everyday challenges at work. Shockingly, they also revealed that, on average, they waste up to 46% of working days a year due to challenges with out-of-date software and technology and an additional 100 days on system integration issues. For SMEs, in particular, this could be extremely damaging and cause an incredible potential loss of income. 

The top 10 challenges manufacturers face when it comes to technology are:

  1. Out-of-date software (28%)
  2. Workload (25%)
  3. Lack of technology leadership support (25%)
  4. Software updates (22%)
  5. Understanding new capabilities of systems (22%)
  6. Data accuracy manual entry (22%)
  7. Integration issues (20%)
  8. Cybersecurity privacy (19%)
  9. Slow IT response times (17%)
  10. Manual updates / Processing speed (16%)

Similarly to those working in manufacturing and engineering, those working in logistics and transport (32%), finance (32%), energy and utilities (30%) and law (44%) also find out-of-date software the most challenging technical issue day-to-day. 

Following growth in technology skills shortage over the last 12 months, it isn’t surprising that a quarter (25%) of workers find difficulty with technology due to increased workload and the lack of support within the business. According to the latest BCS State of the Nation report, there were more than 64,000 vacancies for UK tech jobs in the third quarter of last year.

The survey also revealed that almost one in five (19%) manufacturers hadn’t updated their software for 2 to 3 years, and a further one in 10 (10%) admitted they hadn’t implemented new software for over five years or more.

Digital Transformation Case Study – Simply Washrooms

Simply Washrooms has been creating safe and sustainable working environments and service washrooms for over 30 years. With a nationwide fleet of service providers, Simply Washrooms must be able to plan routes, book customers, schedule and track supplies, manage workload and teams on the move and factor in real-time delays, disruptions or staffing changes to meet and deliver their client's needs.

Andrew Shelley at Simply Washrooms outlines the impact the digital transformation of their document storage and sharing system has had on their delivery of services: "As our business had grown, our documentation systems requirements had changed and evolved. A critical part of our service offering was providing legally required waste processing notes, which needed to be created on the move by our team that services buildings and then stored centrally for all to access. With this in mind, we wanted to put technology at the heart of our business to help us service our clients more effectively and become more transparent.

“Working with experts in bespoke software development has completely transformed our document creation, storage and management system. After an in-depth dive into our system and infrastructure, an entire serverless documentation infrastructure was developed that integrated across our business to deliver essential waste management paperwork to clients instantly. Our new system has created business efficiencies, and it has removed costly and time-consuming manual entry or duplicate logging. 

“Knowing that we have a trusted technology partner that understands our process inside-out and can provide ongoing support and monitoring for the essential documentation system ensures that our team can focus on improving customer service instead of manual data capture or technical challenges.”

Andy Brown, managing director and co-owner of Propel, summarises: “As a company, we spend a large proportion of our time improving business efficiency and best practices in manufacturing organisations, but it still surprised me how much time is lost due to IT issues. Technology is now the heartbeat of every organisation, and tracking and improving IT efficiency is an easy way to improve business performance and should give a clear return on investment.

“We often find manufacturers have systems that were once fit for purpose but have not been managed or updated over time as the business has evolved. In order to reduce challenges within the workplace and improve accuracy and efficiency, businesses should be looking to improve current systems as soon as possible or replace them with a new infrastructure depending on the functionality and technology used.  

“With technology innovating daily, it is becoming increasingly difficult to internally recruit and build an IT team with a forward-thinking digital mindset. However, sourcing a digitally-driven team that can act as an extension and work collaboratively to assess your technology and enhance the existing system could be the answer to your problems and financial goals.”

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