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For manufacturers, the past few years have been shrouded in disruption and uncertainty. Between the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent impact on global supply chains, manufacturers have been forced to re-evaluate their systems and processes to make the most out of their limited resources and keep their operations running.
While the pandemic has subsided and many workers have returned to their plants, businesses still face a number of challenges resulting from present-day economic challenges.
In today's environment of high inflation, rising interest rates, and waning consumer demands, manufacturers need to take steps to rethink the way they're managing their operations.
In this post, we'll explore 4 practical tips and considerations to help manufacturers weather economic uncertainty in 2023 and beyond.
Optimize costs and reduce waste
When it comes to navigating economic uncertainty, one of the primary goals for business leaders should be striking a balance between targeted, sustainable cost reduction and smart spending to drive strategic growth.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 76% of manufacturers cite rising raw material costs as a primary business challenge. As a result, reducing quality defects and unnecessary scrap must be a priority for all businesses.
Some of the core pillars to consider when it comes to cost optimization include:
1. Eliminating waste and non-value-added activities
A key tenet of lean methodology, identifying sources of waste and working to reduce them whenever possible is a critical cost-cutting measure that can provide businesses with some additional breathing room during economic hardship.
2. Consolidating similar activities and optimizing resource allocation
Take stock of your resource allocation and see if there are opportunities to reallocate labor and equipment to improve efficiencies.
One example is incorporating inline quality checks as part of your regular assembly process. Catching and correcting product defects as soon as they occur can save you from doing non-value-added work on defective products, increase first-pass yield, and reduce time and money spent on scrap and rework.
3. Streamlining needlessly complicated tasks
Using digital work instructions, manufacturers are able to streamline operator activities and guide workers through complex tasks such as kitting and changeovers.
This can have a significant impact on productivity and reduce human error, resulting in improved efficiency.
4. Focusing resources on business activities that provide the highest value
When it comes time to look at areas where you can reduce costs, ensuring your resources are utilized in an optimal way is a no-brainer.
For example, if your workforce is spending significant time on data entry and manual record keeping, implementing a solution that can digitize and streamline those efforts can pay dividends when it comes to saving time. As a result, you'll be able to focus those labor resources elsewhere.
Navigating labor challenges
Labor challenges within the manufacturing industry have been on the minds of business leaders even before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
With a generation of workers retiring or set to retire in the coming years, manufacturers must prioritize training and upskilling workers to maximize their labor resources.
The challenge is, operator training can take significant time and resources which can be better allocated to other value-added activities across the business.
In today's market, it's important that businesses are equipped to provide on-the-job training to reduce training times and eliminate the possibility of human errors as they ramp up at new companies or on new products.
Aim for adaptability
Flexibility is key to surviving an economic downturn.
For us, flexibility means being able to respond to a rapidly changing business environment with tools and systems that can be easily created or modified on the fly.
In our opinion, rigid legacy systems like MES are slow to respond to economic and environmental changes and present an inherent threat to a business's ability to compete during economic uncertainty.
Agile, app-based solutions, on the other hand, provide frontline workers with the tools they need to respond to changes quickly and adapt to evolving business needs and challenges.
Augment your workforce for increased productivity
We've written extensively about the concept of Lean Manufacturing in the past, but at its core, Lean Manufacturing boils down to eliminating the sources of waste across a manufacturing facility in an effort to maximize productivity and efficiency.
This philosophy has laid the groundwork for significant technological innovation and continuous improvement methods over its many decades of existence.
Between Industrial IoT, cloud computing, edge connectivity, and platforms that can integrate the various machines, sensors, and operators, businesses have never been more well-equipped to maximize productivity across their operations.
The side effect of all these technological advances is a new level of worker augmentation that offers manufacturers a way to enhance their existing workforce without sacrificing the flexibility and cost advantages of human labor.
Additionally, these technologies give manufacturers the capability to improve the systems within which humans work to improve conditions, encourage optimum performance, and increase retention.
Keeping worker augmentation front of mind is crucial to remaining competitive in today's business environment.
Instead of letting economic conditions dictate how you operate your business, look for ways to increase efficiency internally so that you can remain competitive in both good times and bad.
Take inventory of all resources—including time, money, and labor—and identify areas where cost savings can be achieved through better organization or reallocation of resources.
Tulip is purpose-built with agility and composability in mind. Our Frontline Operations Platform provides businesses with a flexible, no-code approach to addressing business challenges that can be quickly and easily modified as conditions change over time.
Whether you're looking to increase operator productivity and reduce cost of quality, streamline burdensome compliance activities, or gain a real-time view of everything happening across your operations, Tulip is the industry's #1 solution to recession-proof your business.
If you're interested in learning more about how our platform can help increase efficiency across your operations, reach out to a member of our team today!
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