Manufacturing is a vital part of the economy, employing over 12 million workers in the United States alone. It’s involved from top to bottom with nearly every market segment and provides an output that benefits most other industries and businesses. Modern manufacturing uses technology in many ways. That includes automation, software integration, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and communication services.
As a result of technology needs, IT support has also become a vital component of the manufacturing process. Since every company is different, the production process can vary greatly. 57.9% of all private-sector research and development coming from manufacturers, making IT expertise and customized solutions a primary need. Finding the right time to hire an IT specialist isn’t always obvious, but there are signs that will help you know when you need manufacturing IT support.
Outdated IT Infrastructure
With many advances in manufacturing technology, it has become easy to lag behind the rest of the industry. If the current IT infrastructure is working fine and has little room for improvement, there’s nothing wrong with using what isn’t broken. However, more complex and patchworked IT systems may become challenging to use, manage, and fix when issues crop up.
Some businesses will continue to tolerate inefficient workflow in exchange for short-term savings. That can impact manufacturing output and lead to lost revenue. Due to those reasons, 47% of IT budget increases are driven by IT infrastructure upgrades. Doing a complete infrastructure overhaul can seem daunting and expensive upfront but will usually pay for itself long-term through higher productivity.
Slow Computer Systems
When computers are running slowly, it can drag down everybody throughout the manufacturing process. Not only is it frustrating for employees, but it is usually costing the company money in lost revenue. Finding the cause isn’t always easy and requires help from an IT technician to troubleshoot.
Many people will assume the computer itself is the source of the issue. If it’s impacting everyone in the facility, the problem may be something else. It could be poorly integrated software, a network issue, or something in the background using up all the bandwidth. Computer systems less than a few years old are less likely to be the cause and are expensive to replace.
Frequent Bugs and Errors
Even if computer systems are seemingly performing well, bugs and errors can disrupt manufacturing. Employees may come up with creative workarounds, but those only work as stopgaps. Not only does that not fix the issue, but they’re also often wasting time and thought to find ways around it.
Small but frequent issues can also weigh down employees. 54% of workers say they don’t perform as well as they should with distractions. 49% of workers also report being happier when distractions are reduced. Not only do bugs and errors reduce productivity, but it also lowers staff morale. While it can seem appealing to save a little money by tolerating those issues, that may cost the business in the long run.
A secure work environment is important to any manufacturing business. That is especially true when working with any proprietary components or schematics. Cutting corners can seem like a short-term solution to save time and reach tight deadlines. However, there can be severe consequences when mishandling software systems and data storage.
A data breach can damage an organization’s reputation, lose trade secrets to a competitor, and leave them vulnerable to legal issues if IT compliance standards are not met. Having an IT assessment done is the quickest way to get a professional opinion on a company’s cybersecurity status. If there’s a lack of compliance or other vulnerabilities, an IT specialist can help develop a solution. Many managed service providers also offer threat monitoring services.
While there are many reasons a manufacturer might need IT support, staying profitable is a priority at the end of the day. If a business isn’t making money, then it’s not sustainable. Budget cuts can seem like an easy answer, but that isn’t always the best approach. Usually, it’s a utilization issue where money is wasted on areas providing too low of a return.
Most businesses don’t need an entire in-house IT staff to manage their IT services. Not only is it costly to maintain, but a large portion of their paid time is spent waiting for people to need something. Issues don’t come on a steady basis. Some days they come all at once, while other times, there may be an extended lull where everything operates smoothly.
That is where outsourced IT support comes in. Managed service providers like ITonDemand can provide expert IT assistance on-demand. That means instead of paying a designated IT staff full-time, you’re paying less while still receiving help on those days when it’s needed. When using a local IT company, you’ll have access to remote support for routine problems and on-site assistance for larger issues.