The shift to working from home has been accelerated by the pandemic and is redefining working patterns across the world. While it was intended to help reduce the spread of infection many organizations found that productivity increased, capital expenditure could be reduced, and greater flexibility helped them to manage risks.
By mid-2020 a survey found that more than eight out of 10 company leaders were already planning for remote working for some of the time and almost half were intending to introduce full-time remote work or a hybrid mix of on-site and off-site working.
Many employees also discovered how to work with easy-to-use tools to help stay remotely connected with colleagues and their workplace. Without the distractions of open-plan working they also improved productivity, creativity and innovation and could work the hours that suited them.
The benefits of remote working for manufacturers
Human interventions will always be needed, so the first step is to evaluate what can be done remotely and how it could benefit your manufacturing organization. Your teams might need to learn new techniques and broaden their skills to work effectively in a new environment. However, specialists can cover a much wider area and remotely support your on-site teams. While there will be an initial investment in tools and training there is scope to improve efficiency, save money and increase resilience
Are manufacturers embracing home working?
While home working might suit service sector industries can it really apply to the hands-on world of manufacturing? Surely people need to be on-site to monitor and control production, quality assurance and maintenance.
You might be surprised to discover that technology already exists to allow production to be monitored remotely in real time. Artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and remote collaboration platforms allow distance management, control for equipment and supervision for on-site teams and contractors. Your management team can also keep up to date reliably with key metrics and can collaborate with teams in multiple locations.
Robotics with high-speed remote communications and virtual or augmented reality can also allow your operatives to control equipment remotely.
Thanks to cloud-based computer aided design (CAD) software and techniques such as 3D printing and model-based systems engineering (MBSE) design and engineering teams can collaborate and use virtual prototyping and verification from almost anywhere in the world. Development times can be reduced and supply chains simplified when parts can be designed, tested and produced remotely
As the rapid expansion of business to business (B2B) ecommerce continues around the world manufacturers can also benefit from remote ordering with the potential to create a fully automated sales portal. This might include enabling complete self-service, assisted purchasing for part of the journey, or providing the services of a sales representative when needed.
B2B buyers are increasingly looking for more channels, greater convenience, and personalized experiences for their work-related purchasing. In fact, they are more willing than ever to change to suppliers that offer exceptional omnichannel experiences.
Two-thirds of buyers prefer digital self-service and remote interactions and more than one third would be happy to spend $500,000 or more via online channels. With sophisticated configure price quote (CPQ) software efficiency and product customization can be improved, especially for large-scale and high-value orders.
Manufacturers around the world are discovering that allowing customers to choose how they want to interact with them is more effective than their more traditional pre-pandemic approaches.
Your roadmap to working from home
Integrating key business systems with your B2B ecommerce platform is a good place to start. You can provide a range of support for your customers and improve engagement across multiple touch points for sales, support, after sales services and maintenance.
Your top professionals can contribute their expertise from almost anywhere in the world, so you can employ the most talented people to meet your needs. When they can interface with remote working technologies you can enable fast and responsive collaboration. Improved technical advice and troubleshooting for your customers using multiple channels will add value to your offer.
Your sales and customer services teams can liaise directly with product experts and designers to solve problems and make informed recommendations more quickly and reliably. With additional workflow automation your CPQ software and processes can be streamlined and you can offer a full range of customization options to your customers.
From here, it’s a short step to connect devices via the IoT that will assist customers with product maintenance by automatically ordering consumable items and parts when needed. On the factory floor parts, raw materials and components can also be ordered automatically and production schedules planned via integrated communications based on real-time data about customer orders.
Gain a competitive advantage
Home, remote and hybrid working can add resilience to your business model and allow you to meet your customers’ needs more flexibly. You can gain an advantage over your competitors who rely on location-based processes and production, who will be more vulnerable to localized interruptions and disruptions. You will also be able to optimize your organizational skills and expertise and improve working conditions for your employees.
With the latest integration, communication and automation techniques you improve data entry and data collection and minimize errors. Your business operations can be based on the latest and most reliable information to save you time and money.
Cloudfy is a best-in-class B2B ecommerce solution for your growing manufacturing business. It provides an easy, fast, and scalable one-stop-shop solution for your business with sales rep and client ordering apps and pre-built integrations with leading business systems. As a software as a service (SaaS) B2B ecommerce platform it is a robust solution to meet your needs now and in the future.
Talk to one of our experts to find out more about how Cloudfy can support working from home for manufacturers.