Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed a new "Buy American" executive order to support manufacturers, businesses and workers by ensuring federal government taxpayer dollars are spent on American-made goods with American-made component parts. As a result, manufacturers and supply-chain executives are preparing for an influx of new government contracts.
Stimulating and expanding U.S. manufacturing has been a goal for decades. However, Biden’s order by no means will turn all manufacturing segments around overnight. Even with this government support, and in some cases because of it, manufacturers and supply-chain leaders will face different challenges as they juggle new contracts, expand operations and more.
While certainly an exciting time for the industry, it is also a time to prepare. As manufacturers and supply-chain managers work to scale their operations and anticipate an increase in government work and support, challenges are bound to arise. As the Biden Administration pushes to expand American manufacturing and strengthen the American supply chain, it’s vital that industries do their part to ensure they can respond. By preparing for this expansion and investing in new technologies, businesses will have a better view into their operations, insight into their supply chain, and the ability to scale their production.
This is an exciting time for many small- and medium-size businesses and family-owned companies who are celebrating the executive order. However, these manufacturers also realize there is much to do in order to make the most of this renewed government support. Most notably, scaling their operations to keep up with demand and making sure their core business processes are running smoothly with increased activity.
The last year saw a lot of upheaval in the industry. As lockdown orders shuttered some operations, certain manufacturers pivoted their business to produce essential supplies such as PPE, and almost everyone experienced supply-chain disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the help of certain technologies — e.g., enterprise resource planning (ERP) software — those who had invested in modern solutions were able to realign their business processes and pivot, scale and manage in a chaotic time.
This year, as manufacturers look to their post-COVID operation and the new "Buy American" undertaking, technology and ERP software will again prove invaluable for those aiming to make the most of new incoming government support.
As always, new technologies will continue to change the way manufacturers and supply-chain managers run their businesses.
One of the most crucial components of success in the manufacturing industry is foresight: being able to predict and prepare for inventory, supply-chain and operational hiccups. ERP software allows for full visibility into an entire manufacturing and supply-chain production. By helping businesses understand the impact of potential supplier issues and delays, ERP enables real-time decision making and ensures businesses benefit from increased efficiencies and less reliance on manual processes.
For example, Starborn Industries, a family-owned company that specializes in construction fasteners, implemented a modern ERP solution that produced tremendous growth in automation, efficiency and customer satisfaction. ERP helped Starborn compile more detailed sales information: Rather than put in long man hours to pull sales information for individual customers, the software automated this process tailored to the company's specific needs.
A crucial component of the "Buy American" order is to expand American manufacturing. Scaling operations will be critical for the industry as new government contracts are won and business picks up. With ERP, businesses can manage their entire operation with a data-driven approach. This allows for more effective management of business units, a reduction in operating costs and the ability to leverage real-time data and information to gain competitive advantages as the business grows.
This is proving vital for Starborn, which is leaning on its ERP software's functionality and adaptability to help scale operations as business grows.
Scaling operations and keeping up with demands resulting from the “Buy American” order will be challenging, but with ERP software and business management solutions manufacturers will be prepared to meet the challenges head on. While taking the first steps in the digital transformation process and implementing new software and technologies can be daunting and costly, the investment could mean the difference between success and mere survival.
Ultimately it will take more than just an executive order to reinvigorate the American manufacturing industry. Buy-in from industry leaders is essential. Manufacturers and supply-chain managers must meet “Buy American” head on, with a renewed focus on technology and business management solutions, in order to ensure the order’s success.
Mike Edgett is the U.S. Product Marketing Director, Medium Segment, at Sage.
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