Businesses succeed by increasing revenue while lowering costs. When you consider how technology plays into that equation, eye-catching innovations may be the only tech that comes to mind. That’s partly because we tend to adapt so quickly to the technologies we adopt that ultimately we take them for granted, overlooking the cost-saving benefits of the tech unless it’s perceived as groundbreaking.
But even tech advances that seem minor can be a powerful approach to reducing your production and operating costs — often dramatically.
3 Ways Tech Can Lower Costs
Some of the seemingly simple tech tools that you use every day have a big impact on your productivity. When was the last time you or one of your employees had to retype an entire letter because of a spelling error? Word processors, laser printers, email, and other communications technologies make that unthinkable today. Similarly, paper spreadsheets have been replaced with Excel, and generally doing things “by hand” seems antiquated and foolishly inefficient.
Yet business leaders seem to forget the important lessons of those transitions to more modern methods, continuing to spend more on their operations than they have to. The technology is ready if only the decision makers would realize the benefits of making changes, large or small.
To get a better sense of how technology can reduce your production and operations costs, let’s take a look at three areas that are ripe for tech’s aid:
1. Slashing building costs
Around half of your energy costs are related to your HVAC and lighting systems. By focusing on these areas, you’ll be sure to see cost savings. Utilizing LED light bulbs, which last longer and use less energy, can contribute to your cost savings efforts. So can geothermal technology, which uses the solar energy stored underground to provide heating and cooling. For instance, GeoComfort estimates that Illinois-based trucking company Nussbaum Transportation will see an annual savings of as much as 70 percent on the heating and cooling of its corporate campus because of the new facility’s geothermal technology.
Not only can tech help you improve overall energy efficiency, but it can also help you control when electricity is needed. Implementing smart tech controls, such as remote-controllable smart thermostats and lighting controls, can help you fully reap the benefits of the energy-efficient solutions you adopt. These devices ensure you’ll only be using and paying for energy that’s actually required to keep your business running, day in and day out. What’s more, these energy-efficient technologies may save your business even more if they qualify for installation rebates or other incentives from local, state, and federal governments.
2. Saving on human capital
With automation, you can use your team more wisely. According to a Smartsheet survey, 78 percent of information workers are excited to see automation decrease the time they spend on repetitive tasks so they can focus on the more rewarding aspects of their work. If you automate enough tasks to free up an entire position, consider a new role for that individual involving higher-level responsibilities that could help bring in more revenue for your business.
Automation can make jobs safer for employees, too. For example, robotic lines on assembly lines means workers aren’t exposed to dangerous situations or the constant repetitive tasks that can cause muscle and joint issues over time. Fortunately, there’s still a broad scope for further automation; McKinsey reports that $2.7 trillion out of $5.1 trillion of global manufacturing labor could be automated with technology that was already available in 2015. New devices, processes, controllers, software, and other tech advances come on the market every week and could yield even greater results.
3. Leveraging 3D printing
3D printing is booming, and organizations are finding more ways to adopt it as a cost-reducing method. With 3D printing, you can manufacture your own tools or materials. European carmaker Opel, for example, reported saving 90 percent of its assembly tool costs this way. If needs change, a new variation of a tool can be printed easily. The increased speed and flexibility of creating new objects with 3D printing versus traditional methods may be one of the most powerful arguments for adopting the technology.
3D printing can also speed up product development because you can eliminate bottlenecks associated with traditional approaches. For example, with injection molding, you have to create an expensive mold before moving forward, a process so time-consuming that you really need to get it right the first time. 3D printing doesn’t require a mold, meaning you can zoom past that step and create a product faster and more affordably. You can also print in patterns, such as lattices or honeycombs, that aren’t created as easily with other techniques.
Technology has the potential to accelerate business operations even more than it already has. Advocate for the adoption of these technologies, and you’ll make a valuable contribution to the lasting success of your company.