We are witnessing an exciting transformation in U.S. manufacturing, with production and jobs returning to parts of the country overdue for good news. Perhaps more exciting is how the revival of domestic manufacturing is lifting smaller producers, companies like Dillaman Mold & Manufacturing in Meadville, Pa., which specializes in tooling for plastic injection molding machinery. Much of the recent expansion in domestic manufacturing can be credited to companies like Dillaman that are aggressively seizing opportunities for growth.  

Even while that growth continues, success is not guaranteed. Small manufacturers cannot effectively compete if they are relying inefficient, paper-based systems that were a poor choice even during the last economic rise, half a decade ago. What’s more, without new technologies, on the shop floor and in the managers’ offices, manufacturers are likely to underperform during the current growth cycle. Worse than that, they’ll be unprepared for inevitable dips in the future.

Chad Dillaman, who owns Dillaman Mold & Manufacturing, has been an early adopter of technology and explained that he’s constantly looking for competitive advantage. He saw the potential advantage when “cloud computing” emerged as a next-wave technology. The promise of the cloud – that it would level the playing field by providing easier, more cost-effective access to business software – resonated with him.

“Small manufacturers struggle with unpredictability,” Dillaman explained. “Sometimes they’re overwhelmed with orders, while other times it’s painfully slow.

“With software, however, you can see what’s really happening inside the business – at a glance,” he continued, “and this enables you to take proactive steps to avoid frustrating production peaks and valleys.”

For Dillaman and other small manufacturers, software had always been something of a luxury. Larger companies touted major benefits, but they also acknowledged the significant costs and difficulties with implementation.