What are the important issues and challenges that your manufacturing company has to deal with?
Below we have listed the most pressing current issues:
Your customers expect more and more options in choosing their product. Offering this variety poses an enormous challenge for your company. How can you meet expectations while keeping delivery times and production costs at the same level? Tapping into mass customization calls for a whole new vision of you product range. As you go about developing and implementing this vision, you will have to deal with two key aspects:
- Making your product range configurable. This can mean offering customers a choice from a number of fixed product variations with a limited number of options and features.
- Simplifying the analysis of delivery times. In mass customization, every product ordered is different, yet you want to avoid having to analyze the delivery time for each separate product. You can develop simple rules for this, for example by looking at the first free moment on a critical machine.
Short(er) delivery times
Response times in your customer’s value chain are getting shorter and shorter. Your business must tap into this development. Delivery time reduction targets of 50 to even 75% are not uncommon. How do you realize such targets without losing on price or quality?
- Product standardization. By standardizing your products, you can reduce the turnaround time for time-consuming processes, such as engineering and planning.
- Radical reduction of turnaround times. Applying innovative concepts, such as LEAN, line assembly and mechanization or robotization, is another way of reducing turnaround time.
- Different planning. Consider rescheduling activities that affect critical turnaround time. Many companies do this by implementing a Master Production Schedule, for example.
Outdated (End-of-Life) information systems
Many vital IT and information systems currently in use across manufacturing companies are old or no longer meet the requirements of the future. Do you get a panic attack every time an IT supplier announces that it can no longer guarantee maintenance? Is any of your systems approaching End-of-Life (EoL)?
Here’s what you can do if you recognize this problem:
- To assess the impact of a system reaching End-of-Life, you have to make a thorough inventory of who, where and how the system is used
- Which of the system’s functions remain relevant? How can you replace these functions? And what will these changes mean for your business processes?
- How do you quickly choose an alternative, effective system? What do you need to look out for when you select and implement a new system?
Your technological know-how is a big part of the success of your customer. Rather than just supplying to order, today’s market beckons you to be a partner from early product development.
This cooperation is strategic and requires a programmatic approach. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Co-engineering. Co-engineering means you integrate your technological knowledge in the development processes of your customers.
- Integrated supply chain. This means you no longer make your own planning, because your planning is closely interwoven with the supply and demand of your customers.
- Management of customer product data. Increasingly, you have to manage your customer’s product data, combining your own rating systems with those of your customers.
- Connecting IT systems. Your client wants you to access data in his systems, while also expecting you to open your systems to his information management efforts.
Customers nowadays not only expect a product, but also a service package. Sometimes the customer no longer even buys a product, but available machine hours of the device to be installed. This ‘servicification’ offers your company a great opportunity to distinguish itself.
Questions to consider when introducing broader, more comprehensive services:
- How do you stay on top of management costs for services? Can you standardize the services, for example?
- Service usually also means more maintenance and repairs. What impact do these services have on your regular production process? How do you avoid services becoming a disruptive factor?
- To offer good services, you must manage and maintain product information after delivering your product. What does this require from your company?
Is Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 a challenge for your company? Many managers are at a loss as to how to cope with this development. Smart manufacturing can be essential to staying competitive, for instance be improving flexibility or cost-efficiency. Management levels or shareholders can step up the pressure by asking questions, such as: Will your company be innovative or modern enough if you don’t invest in robots and Augmented Reality?
A few considerations for Smart Manufacturing:
- What role does the digital revolution play in my company?
- How do you develop a business case for Smart Manufacturing?
- Smart Manufacturing involves a lot of technology and science, but how do you deal with the human factor and the inevitable change process?
Need help analyzing the impact of an innovation on business operations? Get more information.
Are your current production methods falling out of step with each other or with the supply chain? Do some of your business processes lack efficiency? There can be different reasons for this. A vital step in these situations is to understand, analyze and implement Lean Manufacturing concepts.
Why is Lean so necessary?
- You production workers are an important asset. Lean manufacturing gives them responsibility, a sense of ownership and development opportunities. Your staff retention and attractiveness as an employer will benefit.
- Do your turnaround times need to be reduced? Lean offers many ways of realizing that.
Shortage of skilled workers
The current shortage of high-quality production personnel is set to increase. This is one reason why extensive, large-scale mechanization and automation are vital.
What does mechanization and/or automation involve?
- The justification for investments is not self-evident and depends on many assumptions.
- Mechanization and/or automation have a huge effect on cash flow, with a shift from marginal costs to fixed costs and investments.
- Automation feels like a threat to existing staff. How do you involve people in this process and ensure a fitting role for them in future?
Society, just like your business environment, is becoming increasingly complex. The amount of rules and requirements laid down by legislators, customers, interest groups and branches is growing. And all these requirements have to be met.
The following measures will help you improve your compliance:
- Stay on top of the administrative burden that results from rules and conditions;
- Make it clear that you have your affairs in order;
- Create a closed system for tracing products – within your factory, on their way to the supplier and on the way to customers.