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Top 4 Manufacturing Challenges in 2021

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

1. Lack of skilled workers

Research from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte predicts there could be as many as 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025, up from initial estimates of 600,000. Baby Boomers are aging and retiring, and there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill the positions they’re leaving.

Theory 168 can help!

With our Tool Life product, your shop can do more with less people. By integrating our products with your machines and processes, you can determine more efficient ways to run your jobs. Your operators will see value right away. The operator will be able to pull up the required job/project and follow the production process created by the Engineering team. It is incredibly detailed and shows them the tool set-up, process sequences, and maintenance frequency, just to name a few.

Our SkilFreek product is an app created to keep your team on the same page. It lets users show others how to complete a task through a series of photos and simple directions. It can be shared with all employees, and there is an option for assignment and validation. The Manager will receive a time-stamped notification and photo when a certain procedure/task has been completed. There are also notifications to the users for assignments that are due soon.

With Theory 168’s Tool Life product, it allows you to use lesser skilled workers and have less on-the-job training because of its "at-the-machine" interfaces for task, quality, and through-put management.

2. Shop management

Inventory management and handling projects on the floor at each machine is something that most plant managers are finding increasingly difficult besides running a business. If you can’t stay on top of your inventory and what is going on at each machine with every project being executed, it’s going to directly affect your current orders, future sales and your profit margins.

Theory 168 can help!

With our Tool Life product, your team can be in control and on top of what is happening, even when you are off-site, on vacation, etc. Using our dashboard, management can easily see what is running on each machine and how costs per job, per machine, and per tool are accruing and averaging. The shop supervisor can see good parts and scrap totals as well as quantitative, graphical, and annotated insights into production issues as well as see any issues the operator is having. Engineering can view current and past can see good parts and scrap totals as well as quantitative, graphical, and annotated insights into production issues, run tool life analysis, and analyze our numerous, parallel data streams for trends. From this they can adjust the project parameters to improve efficiencies, quality and profits.

With Theory 168, we give you visibility and control.

3. Automation

There are lots of options for automation in your plant. Implementing these technologies strategically is the challenge. Studies show that spending on robotics worldwide will quadruple from approximately $15 billion in 2010 to about $67 billion by 2025. To stay competitive most companies will adopt a variety of automation tools. To control your plant, you need data. A truly connected shop will have data points throughout the plant, and that will create an extraordinary volume of information.

Theory 168 can help!

Data is at the heart of what we do! With our Tool Life product, we gather from your machines with peripheral sensors and direct integration to give real-time observations rather than assumptions or prior experience to make powerful decisions to improve efficiencies. We can provide your operators small, pocket-able trackers for the operators to track their movements within the plant. From this we can accurately estimate attendance at each machine and total this significant aspect of cost in the right columns. We layer a ton of information and make it easy to interpret. Thanks to companies like Theory 168, Industry 4.0 is achievable!

With Theory 168 we give you data to make good decisions to increase productivity and increase profits. If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it!

4. Global competition

According to trading statistics, U.S. imports fluctuate from one country to another every year. And we all know, you can source raw materials and finished products inexpensively from China, India, and other countries. Cheap labor is a big part of this global competitive advantage; for example, Uganda is a developing country with a population of 37.8 million people. Since Uganda was a British colony, the official language there is English. Salaries there starts from $0.01 per hour, which is $1.7 per month and $22 per year. That’s hard to compete with.

Theory 168 can help!

We need to transform business in America. Theory 168 is all about improving efficiencies, quality, and profitability. Our name says it all. Each week we have 168 hours to make products. Our goal is to keep machines running at their full potential and capacity using scientific data and analysis.

Your preparation for the future starts now!

Give us a call at (608) 218-4018 and let us show you how to increase efficiencies, quality, and profitability.

Or email and, we’ll set up a conference call to discover how we can help you grow this year and in years to come.


Define . Measure . Analyze . Improve . Control

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