How to Help Future Proof Your Manufacturing Business
Posted by Michael S. on July 3, 2018 in Manufacturer Focus

As manufacturers, there are certain things we are all dealing with. The skills gap isn’t going away, technology is evolving faster than ever before, and the competitive nature of manufacturing is growing on a national and global scale. These are items that can keep even the smallest manufacturer up at night. As a business leader, you need to be a few steps ahead, thinking about what your business needs and what changes are relevant to your industry. 


The good news is that most business fundamentals have not changed. However, this doesn't mean there are no new challenges ahead for you and your company. To have a relevant manufacturing business as time moves forward, here are a few things you should be doing.


I suggest you start by doing a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a simple business tool that will help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business. Knowing your business SWOT information is key to ensuring you’re still relevant in the future. 


In addition to a SWOT analysis, it is a good business practice to benchmark your company to peer businesses. This lets you see how your business stacks up to your competitors and helps you identify opportunities for improvement as well as your key differentiators. This information will help you develop strategic plans to ensure your business is successful as the future approaches.


In addition to these two basics, here are several things that will impact the way your company is doing business today and into the future:


1. Industry 4.0 

  • Equipment sensors provide real-time data (know what is happening)

  • Customers and suppliers have instant access to your company (know the status of their orders and products)

  • Improves and increases supply chain management effectiveness (ensures everyone knows what is needed, when, and where)

2. Big data

  • Collecting and managing all data (machine, supply chain, and customer) 

  • Accessing data from anywhere through the Internet

  • Accessing cloud computing

  • Driving automation, machine learning, and TPM (Total Productive Maintenance)

  • Accelerating speed of innovation

3. System integration

  • Integration of ERP (enterprise resource planning), MES (manufacturing execution system), SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), MRP (material resource planning), etc.

  • Data collaboration between, suppliers, customers, and you

  • Cloud storage and data management through SaaS (software as a service)

  • Data sharing and processing through cloud computing

4. KPI (key performance indicators)

  • Measures what is relevant

  • Hold KPI owners responsible

  • Identifies deficiencies and addresses them

5. Adapt sustainable manufacturing practices

  • Think from design to end of product life

  • Design for manufacturability and assembly

  • Use green or recycled materials

  • Focus on reduction of energy consumption

  • Use green energy technologies

  • Improve your process and equipment

  • Encourage your suppliers and customers to implement green efforts

  • Follow fair trade sourcing practices

  • Have your company positively involved within the community

6. Adapt lean manufacturing

  • Develop a culture of positive and continual change

  • Focus on waste reduction in all your processes

  • Drive employee engagement and empowerment

  • Be a leader


Adopting new technology might give you an edge for a short period of time, but your competition will catch up with you. In addition to new technology, you need to continually measure your performance and have a lean manufacturing mindset. This will ensure your company is ready for the ever-changing manufacturing industry now and into the future.

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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