January 19, 2021

It has been months since the coronavirus hit, and it’s still going to take some time to ride out the current wave. How have job shops been weathering the storm? Most were impacted immediately due to order cancellations from their customers and the inability to convert to remote work. Some were able to quickly transition to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) or establish themselves as a critical business due to the industries they serve, and others have adapted to provide new products and services.

What are some lessons learned?

Diversification reduces risk. Companies that serve a more diverse group of industries or those who provide unique value-added services have been able to stabilize more quickly. For example, job shops producing components only for the aerospace industry or building fixtures specifically for restaurants or movie theaters have scrambled to keep their doors open. Job shops that have customers from a mix of industries or those who have adapted to offer products and services necessary for our current environment have been able to continue to thrive. For example, Win-Tech Inc. is a machine shop that has stayed the course and ended 2020 with a record year. Although Aerospace is a major industry for them, they have always been involved with commercial, medical, construction, tooling, and a variety of other industries. According to Allison Giddens, Co-Owner, “Not having all of our eggs in one basket has been helpful in keeping us diversified as crisis hits”.

Resilience or the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties must be a focus for the future. Organizations are realizing that they need to become more agile so they can adapt quickly and compete in an ever-changing environment. Change won’t end with coronavirus – it has become a constant in today’s world.

Innovation and investing for growth. A September 2020 machine shop industry report noted a renewed interest in investing in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Why? One of the reasons is because manufacturers have attempted to transition their office workers to remote work and discovered the need to eliminate manual process steps as well as reduce reliance on paper versus digital processes. Devin Harwell, President of R&R Millwork, commented: “By automating with an ERP system, we now spend more time focused on growth opportunities rather than transferring data to multiple software programs and filing paperwork”.

How can digital strategies help?

Remote work is here to stay as are compliance requirements such as ISO 9000. Digital processes and record-keeping enable you to support best business practices while improving your ability to meet customer expectations. Many job shops are operating at less than full capacity right now, so this could be an opportune time to implement solutions that will enable you to propel your business forward as the global economy recovers.

Here are some of the ways a modern ERP solution can be beneficial to job shops:

  • Define and simplify your business processes
  • Broader access to relevant information for data-driven decisions
  • Reduce reliance on paper, manual processes, and error-prone spreadsheets
  • Focus on customer needs such as increased visibility to job progress and on-time deliveries

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About the Author

Joyces Picture Cropped

Joyce Swanke

Supply Chain Solution Manager at Nextworld

As Supply Chain Solution Manager at Nextworld, Joyce Swanke focuses on customer challenges and how technology can help manufacturers become more agile and resilient. Joyce has over 35 years of broad experience in manufacturing industries. She is certified in Business Transformation Management Methodology, a Six Sigma Black Belt, and Certified as a Fellow in Production & Inventory Management (CFPIM) through the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). She also has a BS in Industrial Engineering and an MBA in Operations Management.

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