Getting Back to Manufacturing Basics
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Posted by Michael S. on August 24, 2018 in

If you have been following my blogs on Manufacturer Focus, you have probably noticed advanced technology is a huge topic in the industry. However, even with all the advanced technology, there are still some basic items that all manufacturers need to know. Today, I want to touch on those basics. Without these, your business might not be as successful as it could be.

 

As a manufacturer, one of the most basic concepts is your business model. A typical manufacturing company business model is taking one or more raw materials and converting them into something else, like turning milk into cheese. Maybe you are adding or assembling components to create something new, like soldering a variety of diodes and capacitors onto a printed circuit board (PCB) to create an operation electrical circuit. Your basic business model falls into one or a combination of both ideas. You might sell to a direct customer, distributor, or another company. That is the basic manufacturing business model.

 

Next, you need a business plan. A business plan is your strategy on how to achieve financial success and grow your business.

 

  • A business model should be reviewed at least once per year. If you don't, you might end up following a path similar to Kodak, a large film manufacturer that did not react to the digital revolution or change their business model. 

  • Business plan objectives need to be reviewed and updated annually.

  • Consider adding new strategies to achieve financial security, profitability, and growth for your company. An example would be to implement a preventative (PM) and predictive maintenance (PdM) program to increase equipment reliability, uptime, and output.

 

Here are some other basic manufacturing skills and knowledge you should stay refreshed on.

 

Customer

  • Know your customer

  • Understand what they want, need, and are willing to pay for

  • Manufacture a quality product

  • Deliver on time

 

Operation knowledge - A detailed knowledge and understanding of each operation/process

  • Helps in training new employees

  • Ensures you can troubleshoot and improve processes

  • Drives continuous improvement

  • Solid understanding of shop floor operation

 

Quality - Products and processes

  • Establish inspection criteria, frequencies, and methods

  • Implement and utilize Statistical Process Control (SPC)            

    • For process control

    • Monitoring

    • Improvement

  • Save cost by doing it right the first time

  • Attracts new business

  • ISO 9001:2015 certification

 

Inventory management

 

Talent management

  • Employee empowerment

  • Right skillset for the task

  • Good leadership

  • A solid recruitment strategy

  • Value-added training 

 

There is no doubt that technology has helped improve efficiencies, increased yields, and advanced manufacturing over the last few decades. However, don’t be fooled into believing technology will solve all your manufacturing issues. You need to look at technology as just one tool you can deploy to help your business.

 

To ensure your business can adapt to ever-changing demands on manufacturing and continuously grow, you need to make sure your staff has a solid understanding of all basic techniques and processes within your operation. Only this understanding of the fundamentals will ensure that you deploy technology where it is most beneficial to your business.

 

To answer the question from the beginning—no, technology alone will not ensure your manufacturing business will be successful. You also need a solid foundation of basic knowledge and skill. Using those basics with technology is the key to a successful manufacturing business.

Michael S. is our Manufacturing guru
I have over 30 years experience in a broad range of manufacturing areas. Starting with an apprenticeship in Germany I’ve worked my way through a variety of positions within the manufacturing field. I got my start as a Tool and Die maker. I next became a supervisor of a class A tool room, then manager of a machining department. I was exposed to lean manufacturing in the mid 90s and adapted the lean philosophy. Loving and teaching the lean approach, I moved on to become a Continuous Improvement manager which led to a job as a manufacturing manager. I joined Acuity in 2015 as their manufacturing expert. I hope to evolve how manufacturers deal with and think about insurance companies, as well as be a resource to my fellow employees – enabling them to better understand the unique needs of manufacturers.


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