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Manufacturers Share Concerns About Future Uncertainty, Seek Adaptability While Investing Elsewhere

Survey of 400 manufacturers says adaptability is a priority, but technology investments are more likely to go toward improving efficiencies

Published: Monday, November 29, 2021 - 12:00

(Drishti: Mountain View: CA) -- New data released today from a survey conducted by Drishti underscores the pervasive industry sentiment that people make manufacturing operations more adaptable than machines. In fact, 73 percent of the 400 senior manufacturing executives surveyed agreed with the statement, “The more manual you are, the more adaptable you are.”

Despite the popular recognition of how important human workers are to resilient manufacturing, most respondents (62%) noted that new technology investments were targeting increasing efficiency, in the form of more automation and improving physical factory infrastructure.

“There’s a misperception in manufacturing, including in a number of lean manufacturing shops, that the performance of people has reached its peak,” says Prasad Akella, founder and chairman of Drishti. “So while manufacturers know that people bring a lot of strengths to the table in terms of flexibility, cognition, and problem-solving skills, they also assume they can’t be any more productive or mistake-proof. That’s simply not the case.”

Drishti, whose AI-powered manufacturing technology uses video analytics, data, and insights to bring significant benefits to manufacturers and their employees, helps manufacturers increase productivity, quality, and standardized work adherence on manual assembly lines. Results show double-digit gains in efficiency and quality, proving that people can continue to improve given the right tools.

“The pandemic has been a wake-up call to manufacturers around the world that resiliency and adaptability need to be a top priority,” says Jason Bergstrom, principal of Deloitte Consulting. “Transformational digital technologies that can introduce flexibility seamlessly into areas of operations, including by augmenting people on the line, give manufacturers the adaptability they need to meet future challenges and threats even as they improve productivity and quality.”

Productivity concerns (56%) and quality issues (54%) were the top internal challenges manufacturers say they face, followed closely by training and onboarding new line associates (48%).

The survey findings put a fine point on the situation in manufacturing today: With natural disasters and supply chain issues on the rise, in addition to the internal challenges noted above, manufacturers see a number of external threats on the horizon. Supplier price increases (45%) and supply chain disruptions (42%) loom largest in manufacturers’ minds across industries and regions.

The lingering worker shortages are also perplexing manufacturers, who ranked “finding enough line associates to staff my shifts” the No. 1 concern (19%) when it comes to staffing. Other worker-related concerns included knowing what’s happening on the floor when I can’t be there in person (16%); keeping employees healthy (16%); and keeping nonessential personnel away from the line (15%).

“While many of these challenges have been present for years, today there are more variables than ever to consider when producing goods,” says Akella. “A post-coronavirus manufacturing industry will look vastly different than it did just two years ago. Being able to quickly train line associates and empower people to continuously improve assembly processes will impact how well manufacturers can pivot and optimize for the changing business needs.”

Find the full report here.

About Drishti

Drishti’s mission is to extend human capabilities in an increasingly automated world. Its AI-powered video analytics technology provides visibility and insights that transform the pace and impact of manual assembly-line improvement. Manufacturers use Drishti to anchor true digital transformation, driving sweeping improvements in quality costs, efficiency gains, and time-to-proficiency for line associate training. And line associates rely on Drishti to be more consistent and efficient, becoming even more valuable on the factory floor. In 2019, Drishti was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer; in 2020, Drishti was named to the Forbes AI 50 and a Top 5 AI Company in North America by NVIDIA. In 2021, Drishti was named a Manufacturing Leader by NAM. For more information, visit Drishti.com.

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