Manufacturing

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The manufacturing sector currently makes up 11% of UK GVA, 44% of total exports, 70% of business R&D, and directly employs 2.6 million people. It faces a number of challenges, not the least of which is how to use systems and digital automation to drive agility and productivity. Over the next few years skills shortages will worsen, and ‘Industry 4.0’ will gain pace — no manufacturing company can afford to be left behind.

Tracking and managing production without the proper technology is time-consuming and often ‘after the fact’. The line between shop floor production systems and back office administrative systems is being erased creating an integration challenge for many manufacturers with CRM, ERP, MRP, MES and EDI all playing a critical part. Covid-19 has driven changes in how manufacturing businesses engage and sell with an increase in B2B ecommerce. The sector therefore has data management and systems integration problems and complicated supply-chain challenges. But those businesses who can overcome these issues will lead in winning business, making production more efficient and driving profitability.

New collaboration systems and devices can dramatically improve communication, planning and forecasting, and radically reduce costs and time wasted in the purchase-to-pay cycle. But innovation needs to be balanced with rigorous business-focus in order to drive improvements. All projects must begin with clear, objective business objectives based on the business strategy.

Manufacturers should start by asking whether they are getting the most out of their current systems before they embark on exciting new projects! Basic IT infrastructure, data management and system configuration must be properly defined and implemented but, for solutions to deliver real business benefits, they need to address process and people and data issues including organisation, training and culture as well.

At the same time, cyber security and risk management is a complex issue as the manufacturing sector is a prime target for fraudsters. A lack of expertise in this area can hold back the investment in necessary technologies to drive innovation.

Innovation and improvement must become part of the culture of the business but a sensible and commercial approach is required in order to ensure solid return on investment and to manage risk.

Healing Hands

'A Freeman Clarke Principal completed several projects and served as a strategic advisor to the executive leadership team. The first year of integration with our new parent company was successful thanks to Freeman Clarke' Read more

Client story

JJS Manufacturing

'A Freeman Clarke CIO has not only helped us with creating a strategic roadmap. He also became a key member of our senior leadership team' Read more

Client story

Sterling

'Freeman Clarke have been instrumental in implementing industry best practices around the management, support and financial management of the IT function.' Read more

Client story

Sleaford Quality Foods

'The Freeman Clarke model works well for our business, providing us with access to a senior IT Leader who helps us achieve our ambitious goals' Read more

Client story

Future Biogas

'Engaging a Freeman Clarke Principal as our part-time IT Director, at Board-level, has proved extremely worthwhile' Read more

Client story

Southern Sheeting

“Ian demonstrates excellent leadership skills and has the innate ability to encapsulate complex situations into easily understood courses of action. Ian is wholly “bought-in” to our enterprise and is able to drive projects forward for the betterment of the business. We now need to capitalize on his strategic thinking skills within IT and the wider business. Ian is a pleasure to work with and is a highly respected friend and colleague. I am delighted Ian wishes to continue working with us.”

Tony Hobbs, Managing Director

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

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