Manufacturing competition creates a cutthroat environment on the global stage, and there are only so many cuts you can make when you’re dealing with direct competition for clients. What can manufacturers do to set themselves apart, and to find cost-saving measures that will help lead to a more efficient workforce?
Here are a few ideas on how you can deal with your competition effectively, without the dramatic and obvious cuts.
Cut Down on Waste
A.J. Weller manufacturers use wear plates, devices that are fit over machinery that experiences heavy friction. The plates, made of environmentally friendly materials, wear down over time and typically before the machinery wears down but are easy to replace.
Modular thinking in engineering is enabling more of this kind of re-use in manufacturing, where small parts made of environmentally friendly materials are regularly replaced to allow for the larger pieces to remain intact.
This waste reduction also translates to the production line, where improved technology means less downtime for machinery. CNC machinery, for instance, requires computers to render and execute a design. This operation requires a great deal of computing power and tends to run on technology that may be decades behind modern standards. Upgrading that infrastructure reduces system crashes and processing downtime that are often passed onto the customer, resulting in a leaner operation that provides better value.
Standardizing parts is another method used to reduce costs. Screws or housings are a good example, where clients may require two pieces held together with screws. Standardizing sizes, and having a selection to fit multiple spaces (down to the millimeter), allows manufacturers to meet client specs with improved fulfillment.
It’s helpful to maintain good communication with your client to see what their needs might be. If you work with them on the design, you can incorporate your standards into their work early on, which can also help solve some of the more irksome problems that come with designing a new product.
Another helpful benefit to parts standardization is inventory maintenance. If you don’t need to order special parts, you’re not at the mercy of supply chains who manufacture and deliver specialized parts or materials. You save on shipping costs and, since you order in bulk, and you can pass those savings on to customers while still adding to your profit margins.
Factory automation is a useful strategy for improving production efficiency, but it requires its own infrastructure. Especially when deployed at scale. A factory that is entirely automated can do interesting things with its space, but it requires an IT backbone full of techs and engineers constantly maintaining and supporting it.
Instead, start small. Improve the time it takes to process a design, or automate some of the simpler tasks associated with manufacturing. Create requirements up front that reduce the amount of input on your end. If the client can prepare specs that align better with your systems, you can promise faster fulfillment.
Automating strategically cuts costs in your workforce, but not in the ways you might think. You can reduce overtime costs with some process optimization, and reduce wasted hours by training certain members on multiple tasks. A small increase in pay is usually less than the cost of hiring a new worker.
Today, there are multiple options companies can use to reduce the cost of operating a factory. Some of those methods require an upfront cost but have ample downstream savings. Changing to LED bulbs, for example, might carry a high upfront cost but will result in lower energy bills. Less ambient heat also means a cooler factory floor.
Prioritizing sustainability is better for your company in every area of your business. It will help you reduce costs, better serve your clients, and improve your profit margin. If you haven’t started to make the shift toward sustainability, now is the time to change that!