Manufacturers Challenged with Manual Operations and Work Delays, According to SME and Laserfiche Study

3 min read

Increasing overall process effectiveness and enabling data-driven decisions are top priorities for organizations’ digitization journeys.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA, Dec. 12, 2023 — New research by SME and Laserfiche — the leading SaaS provider of intelligent content management and business process automation — finds that the manufacturing industry continues to rely heavily on manual processes while experiencing work delays in a number of key areas.

The study surveyed over 300 manufacturing professionals employed with organizations with 101 or more employees. Only a third of respondents reported that their facilities had completely automated operations related to equipment capacity utilization (30%), sales sheets/documents (27%), quality management (24%), and inspection sheets (24%). Meanwhile, the majority of respondents experience work delays related to inventory data (62%), manufacturing throughput times (62%), equipment effectiveness (62%), and equipment capacity utilization (60%).

“Overall equipment effectiveness and throughput determine a manufacturing facility’s ability to compete in today’s market,” said Grace Nam, strategic solutions manager, manufacturing, at Laserfiche. “As the report shows, manual processes and unstandardized external and internal communication methods that require various documents and records are still driving most manufacturing operations. This approach can have a negative impact on equipment availability and performance, as well as lead time to customer.”

Results also revealed that increasing overall process effectiveness and enabling data-driven decision making are top priorities for organizations as they consider the next steps in their digitization journeys. In many respondents’ technology plans were AI (56%), cloud computing (52%), and document and records management (47%) initiatives.

“There is incredible opportunity for manufacturers who focus on digitizing paperwork and automating operations,” Nam added. “By embracing digital compliance document and records management, developing a standardized system to improve processing time, and fostering interoperability with metadata management, companies can unlock new efficiencies, reduce costs, and get ahead of the competition. Additionally, advancements in AI and cloud computing will accelerate digital transformation in the industry, meaning investments in digitization and automation are more important than ever before.”  

Additional findings in the report include:

  • High cost of compliance — Over 40% of respondents indicated that the top challenge for their organization is the high costs associated with compliance documentation. With new requirements being introduced constantly, industry-specific requirements to manage, plus various regulation changes based on region and country, those costs are likely to grow unless organizations implement solutions to automate and streamline compliance processes.
  • The enterprise content management (ECM) advantage — Among current users of ECM systems, almost all respondents (96%) indicated that they are somewhat to very satisfied with the return on investment their system provides. The result reveals the highest level of satisfaction with ROI across systems used in manufacturing — however, only 15% of respondents report using ECM, suggesting significant opportunity for organizations that adopt ECM and its benefits.

“It’s clear from these results that there is significant room for the industry to increase their competitiveness and efficiency by modernizing their processes and transitioning to smart manufacturing technologies,” said Dave O’Neil, vice president, media, at SME. “By sharing these results, SME can continue to help support companies through this transition to ensure a robust future for North American manufacturing.”

To download a copy of the Laserfiche and SME research report, click here.

To learn more about Laserfiche solutions for the manufacturing industry, visit  

About Laserfiche

Laserfiche is the leading SaaS provider of intelligent content management and business process automation. Through workflows, e-forms, document management and analytics, the Laserfiche® platform centralizes data and many types of documents from across the organization and streamlines critical business processes that impact organizational growth and productivity in core functions such as sales, engineering, operations, accounting and more.

For over 30 years, Laserfiche has served organizations in highly-regulated manufacturing industries — including aerospace and defense, gas and oil, industrial, food and beverage and more — to simplify data- and content-driven business processes, supporting quality management and document control, compliance, organization-wide information governance and digital resilience. Today, Laserfiche’s cloud-first approach incorporates machine learning and AI innovations, and supports integrations with technologies like enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM) and more to drive enterprise-wide digital transformation.

Learn more at

About SME

Established in 1932 as a nonprofit organization, SME represents the entire North American manufacturing industry, including manufacturers, academia, professionals, students, and the communities in which they operate. Together we share one common belief: Manufacturing holds the key to economic growth and prosperity. SME accelerates new technology adoption and inspires and builds North America’s talent and capabilities in order to advance manufacturing as a diverse, thriving and valued ecosystem that drives competitiveness, resiliency and national security. We believe in technology’s power and humanity’s innovation to advance our society and meet many national challenges. We design new ways to understand and solve problems, and our solutions advance the next wave of innovation and growth. Learn more at, or follow SME on X/Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Connect with Laserfiche:

Featured News

Laserfiche Recognized as a 2024 Gartner® Peer Insights™ Customers’ Choice for Content Services Platforms
June 4, 2024 Learn More
CRN Recognizes Noel Loughrin, Katherine Hou, and Kristen Petruzzelli of Laserfiche on the 2024 Women of the Channel List
May 15, 2024 Learn More
Laserfiche AI Document Summarization: Simplifying Content Consumption and Powering Productivity
April 30, 2024 Learn More
Digital Transformation’s Next Era: Generative AI and Laserfiche 12 at 2024 Empower Conference
April 25, 2024 Learn More
Laserfiche Reimagines Partner Ecosystem to Empower Solution Providers Worldwide
April 16, 2024 Learn More

Contact Us for Your ECM Needs

Whether you have product questions, support needs, or want to partner with us, we're here to help you on your digital transformation journey. Fill out the form and a Laserfiche team member will be in touch as soon as possible.