Manufacturing is an industry of margins. Every little bit plays a role in the ultimate success or failure of your firm, and your workforce — from top to bottom — knows it. Remaining competitive in this marketplace requires a dedication to embracing change and a business leadership model that innovates in order to head off challengers before they even present themselves.

Take advantage of technology.

Manufacturing has taken great strides in recent years. The use of collaborative robot (cobot) applications for fabricating nearly anything has truly transformed the industry. This shift away from human input in the actual, hands-on creation process has led many to assume that their jobs are simply evaporating. This has led to many factories having to handle both an insurgency among its workforce and a void of knowledge in operating new collaborative robot or cobot installations when they first arrive on the factory floor.

The truth is, robot systems are a fantastic tool for the manufacturing industry but in no way suggest the sunset of a human workforce in the creation of the goods that we all use on a daily basis. The function of robotics or cobots in the manufacturing industry is as a tool rather than a replacement. There is a massive need for technologically savvy operators who can navigate the divide between the capabilities of robotic applications and the craftsmanship that still must go into each and every piece of equipment that rolls out through the front doors.

Because of this, manufacturing jobs are poised for a transformation into something of an artisan/operator. You can get ahead of this change by making a business decision to train your current team to take ownership over this changing process that includes the use of industrial robots or cobots.

By giving your team the insights they need to continue performing at a high level, you show them the need for their eye for detail, their skill with the tools they have been using for years, if not decades. The human worker is capable of incredible majesty, something a robot cannot always replicate. So many industrial robots are employed in the first stages of fabrication with human workers taking over midstream to complete each build to the exacting and beautified standards that your end-users have come to expect.

Take ownership of the supply chain.

To keep your pole position in the competitive industry, it’s incredibly important to make a smart business decision by understanding business intelligence. By its nature, the business intelligence definition encompasses the insights and foresight that a corporate entity requires in order to continue to retain that competitive edge over the long term. This means data analysis, predictive analytics, and an aggressive posture toward efficiency in all business operations in order to continue producing at a high rate and shipping finished products to end users without delay.

These are a series of processes and workflows that allow a management team to effectively optimize decision making and performance across all sectors of the corporate structure. Particularly important here is the management of your supply chain. Maintaining efficient and reliable access to the source materials you require to continue production is essential to keeping your operations flowing smoothly — no raw materials, no end product. Similarly, your operations depend on a reliable transportation network that carries your products from the factory to the market. Maintaining strong bonds with third party operators that supply transportation and raw materials is paramount in your decision-making paradigm and signal an effective leadership team.

While it’s up to your human workers and robotic workforce to create the products, as the operations manager it’s your job to empower them to consistently work at a high volume. Data visualization and business intelligence products are crucial to performing these tasks effectively so that your company can maintain its competitive edge at all times.