Manufacturing can be a difficult business. From developing and coordinating a supply chain to hiring and maintaining a skilled workforce, your business is constantly responding to challenges.
There are also new challenges rising for manufacturing businesses. It can be difficult to simultaneously stay on top of a changing industry and run your business. This is where a manufacturing consulting firm can benefit your manufacturing business. Manufacturing consulting firms stay abreast of new developments within the industrial and manufacturing engineering field and bring this knowledge to you. Here are five trends in the manufacturing world that a manufacturing consulting firm can help you to address:
If you ask 10 different people what globalization is and what it means for their businesses, you will likely get 10 different answers and none of these answers would be wrong. Globalization brings both opportunities and challenges to manufacturing businesses.
On the most basic level, globalization allows your business to access to global markets to purchase raw materials or other manufacturing inputs and sell your manufactured goods. Markets facilitate efficiency, and efficiency means that you should have greater opportunities to minimize your costs and maximize your revenues.
Globalization also means that you may need to adjust your factory layout and equipment to meet non-U.S. industrial standards. Moreover, your goods will need to meet safety standards in the markets you will reach. For example, unlike the U.S., many global markets limit or prohibit the use of solder containing lead.
At the same time, globalization allows your business to learn from manufacturers that have already entered foreign markets to develop ways to navigate the industrial and safety standards in those markets. Manufacturing consulting firms can provide this knowledge to your business.
Finally, globalization allows your business to lower its labor costs by manufacturing outside the U.S. While this is not an option for every manufacturer, those who choose to build manufacturing facilities overseas can retain a manufacturing consulting firm to aid in the development of a facility relocation project plan.
There is growing demand from both customers and governments to reduce carbon emissions and manufacture sustainably, to the extent possible. In the U.S., manufacturers consume about 30% of the country's energy. Reducing energy consumption not only reduces your overhead, but it also conserves non-renewable energy sources and reduces your factory's carbon footprint.
While you may have only recently heard the phrase "lean manufacturing," the concept has existed since the beginning of engineering. When the energy available is limited, a manufacturing process must make efficient use of that energy to accomplish the manufacturing task. For example, a grain mill in ancient Greece had to be efficient enough to use the wind or water energy available or it would literally grind to a halt.
Lean manufacturing is the same concept. Lean manufacturing engineering seeks out steps in your production process that can be made more efficient. For example, efficiencies can be found in:
- Consumption of material
- Utilization of labor
- Use of energy
Identifying and eliminating wasted material, labor, and energy can pay for itself with reduced costs and, consequently, increased profit margins.
While competition itself is not a new concept, globalization, the Internet, and the rise of conglomerates, have increased competitive pressures by both increasing the number and size of competitors and driving prices down. The result is that manufacturers must be faster, more efficient, and cheaper to compete in the current environment.
With the rise of computer planning and automated logistics systems, retailers and distributors found that they could avoid tying up resources with warehouses full of inventory by buying manufactured goods as needed.
However, this increases pressure on manufacturers to forecast both sales of finished products and their own demand for inputs. Moreover, just-in-time manufacturing requires a highly reliable manufacturing process since any defective products could turn just-in-time into just-too-late. A manufacturing consulting firm can review your manufacturing facility to find places where reliability can be improved and waste can be reduced to improve quality and predictability
Whether you are planning an upgrade or expansion of your factory layout, need help with a facility relocation project plan, or want to investigate how lean manufacturing engineering can make your facility more efficient, engaging a manufacturing consulting firm can bring fresh eyes and up-to-date knowledge to your project.