5 Ways to Increase Capacity Despite Talent Shortages with Digital Manufacturing Technology

, Shannon Gabriel | March 18, 2021 | 

What a difference a few months make. With vaccination roll out accelerating and a new stimulus bill just signed, the U.S. economy looks likely to heat up soon. And when it does, talent shortages will remain a challenge. Multiple factors will drive the ongoing challenges. People looking for a change of pace and better opportunities following a stressful year. Continued absences and turnover related to family illness or jobless benefits. And a reshaped business world following a year of unprecedented circumstances.

Finding the right candidates may be increasingly difficult in the near term, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with your current capacity. There are plenty of opportunities to do more with less right now using digital technology for operational and talent management processes. Just consider that digital technology can help you streamline onboarding and training. Moreover, the same technologies manufacturers rely on to rebalance lines and monitor processes can often help pinpoint areas for improving operational excellence.

Let’s explore 5 ways digital manufacturing technology can help you increase capacity in the face of talent shortages.

1.Establish clear standards for task completion, work validation and line balancing while increasing operational flexibility

Digital manufacturing technology solutions make it easier to capture, manage and validate standard work. They can also help improve operational flexibility. For example, automated video and task-structure analysis is an efficient way to monitor work in progress and validate KPIs for baseline metrics. Video-based digital manufacturing technologies, such as AviX, underpin these efforts. AviX allows engineers to drag and drop tasks between positions and reconfigure workloads to optimize how lines are balanced and drive efficiency and productivity. These combined capabilities also make it easier to proactively develop a variable staffing model and standard work combinations for different scenarios, so you are ready with a game plan no matter what the day looks like.

2. Automate onboarding and training to get more out of your existing resources

When it comes to getting new employees up to speed or existing employees trained on new tasks, digital technologies come with a host of advantages. Rather than requiring face-to-face time with trainers, for instance, employees can use digital training solutions anytime and virtually anywhere. Moreover, they are relatively easy to customize for specific departments, roles or even lines. Through the use of a standardized digital training process, including modules that incorporate standard or job-specific videos, employees can learn even when quarantined. That also means there is less of a burden on trainers and managers. You can even incorporate ways to provide remote coaching, upskilling or cross training to keep your organization moving forward under any circumstances.

3. Adopt a digital KPI strategy to more easily keep goals on track

Real-time visibility into what’s happening with KPIs in your organization can be game changing. With the help of digital KPI management, you can not only better ensure that you hit daily targets, but you also get a window into workforce-related stats, such as absenteeism. These insights can help you understand your true capacity so you can make adjustments to meet capacity in the near term while working to build up and increase capacity over the longer term. Best of all, KPI management software, like Dploy Solutions, is affordable and helpful on multiple levels.

    • Establish benchmarks that tie directly to desired business outcomes
    • Monitor production indicators in real time
    • Provide floor managers clear visibility into processes so they can see dips that indicate operational issues and identify their root causes.

4. Monitor and measure workflows for continual fine tuning

The more you can see into your processes, the more opportunities you can potentially identify to increase capacity with the resources you have in place already. Workflow analytics solutions provide ways to identify baseline productivity as well as establish a digital thread throughout processes, from product design through production and beyond. Once you have a digital thread, you can more easily analyze the potential root causes of process hiccups, which could be two or three steps earlier in the production process than you originally thought. A digital thread even enables you to model and simulate solutions, so you can understand the potential results they will deliver before you commit to change.

5. Maximize output with a digital management system and process automation

When it comes to increasing capacity in the face of staffing shortages, process automation can pay significant dividends. After all, automation can reduce mundane tasks and free up personnel to focus on more important things.  For example, a factory floor connectivity or IIoT equipment monitoring solution could help streamline equipment monitoring tasks. Automating digital workflows, such as for maintenance requests or task tracking, can also help alleviate redundant and time-consuming processes that hold up production.

It’s true that this type of automation requires a bigger investment, but the potential ROI is also significant; it can reduce full-time labor requirements by up to 25% while improving productivity per hour by roughly the same amount. And that’s with the added benefit of significant quality improvements. When approached correctly, automation solutions can pay for themselves in just a few short years. Best of all, you can deploy the full-time employees who are liberated from the line to different areas of the operation to fill other human capital needs, creating wins all the way around.

There’s no time like the present to get a handle on your current capacity and begin implementing solutions for increasing it.  If you need an outside perspective to take a deeper look at your operations and get you started down the right path – the consultants at TBM Consulting Group1 can help.

Download “Seize the Day: How to Embrace the Golden Opportunity in U.S. Manufacturing”


1Dploy Solutions and the Dploy logo are registered trademarks of TBM Consulting Group.




Shannon Gabriel


Shannon helps clients identify and resolve weaknesses within their organizational structure and hiring process, build bench strength and engage our strategically embedded operational resources to facilitate growth and drive immediate performance improvements. Learn More About Shannon Gabriel