UK manufacturers have benefited from an export boom in recent years, taking advantage of stronger exchange rates following the BREXIT vote in June 2016. However, there is growing concern that skill shortages pose a major threat to the sector’s prospects. With manufacturing currently making up around 10% of the UK economy, it’s no small issue.
In its response to a recent House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Inquiry, the Association of Labour Providers highlighted that 43% of food manufacturing and distribution labour providers are unlikely to supply a sufficient number of workers this year. There is concern that this will be compounded further by tighter immigration controls post-BREXIT too.
Tom Crotty, Chairman of the CBI’s Manufacturing Council also has said that “cost pressures, skill shortages and competitiveness challenges present a growing threat to the manufacturing sector’s success”.
One solution may be for more manufacturers to embrace technology to help plug the skills gap. Global company Unleashed Software works with many manufacturers, providing cloud-based inventory software that does just that. One such company is Elivar, manufacturer of sports nutrition products for athletes and active sports people aged 35+. Len Dunne, co-founder of Elivar, explains their approach.
“Inventory management is a key area within our business, as we are managing ingredients with best-before-dates and multiple packaging formats for different products. Our research prior to launching the business, highlighted Unleashed Software as a leader in this space. Three years on, and we’re delighted that the software has met and exceeded our expectations.”
Elivar co-founder Donal Hanrahan agrees. “As our business developed, we sought integration with our accounting package to track stock levels and costs of sales” he says. “With Unleashed delivering such a solid inventory management system, we decided to replace our existing accounts system with one that integrates with Unleashed. This eco-system approach has brought significant efficiencies to our operations.” Such foresight has enabled Len and Donal to scale their business, focusing labour in the areas where it is needed most.
These days, it’s a necessity for manufacturing businesses of all sizes to manage processes seamlessly, tracking resources with real-time data to deliver high quality customer service and keep a competitive edge. Unleashed Software can help by alleviating simple but crucial processes, such as turning a sales quote into an active sales order with just one click of a button or providing real-time inventory data with minimal manual processing.
This reduces the need for staff to undertake time consuming back-office operational and administrative tasks, freeing up resources for areas such as R&D, sales and marketing. Managers can then focus on growing their business as Paul Delamare from ShinDigger Brewing in Manchester concurs. “We’re able to trace all the ingredients we’ve used, our stock and sales via Unleashed Software, right through to order despatch. Unleashed has become a fundamental part of our business operations and without it, we’d really struggle to keep track of what we’re doing and how we’re performing,” he concludes.
Ensuring a steady supply of skilled workers for the UK manufacturing sector may not be an easy fix, but if businesses make the most of the workforce they do have and use technology such as Unleashed Software to best effect, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.