Four ways to meet manufacturing demand
Whether your woes are caused by a break in your supply chain, a spike in business, or a bottleneck somewhere along the production line, these four tips can help you meet demand.
1. Don’t dismiss automation
Many plant managers often look to people to solve the problem of increased demand. They ask existing employees to work overtime or bring in temporary workers. Do the first, and your existing employees may soon run out of steam. Do the last and you have a pool of untrained employees. No matter the tactic, you are faced with increased labor costs, high turnover, safety issues, and operational inefficiency. The simple solution: automation. Automation can help with product forecasting and inventory control, material handling, lights out operation, and more. Though the initial investment may be high, the benefits of automation will save you money allowing for a quick return on investment.
2. Focus on what you do best
One might argue that doing more gives you greater control of your finished product, however studies show companies often lose control when trying to complete tasks an organization was never designed to do. Instead of cutting costs and increasing efficiency, companies discover that leaders lose focus and employees feel they are spread too thin. This causes an uptick in errors, the manufacture of a lower quality product and frustration among teams. Instead consider sticking with your core competency and bringing in a third party to help with things like warehousing, transportation, finishing and painting, or fulfilling orders.
3. Line up flexible partners
Give your business the flexibility it needs to withstand spikes in business. By nurturing relationships with third parties you have a ready outlet in place to absorb your overflow. Examples might be a portable storage company that can help your temporarily expand your manufacturing space or a transportation provider who can step in to complete deliveries during a busy time of year. Bottom line: outside resources allow you to meet demand during busy times and lower your costs during slower periods.
4. Look back to get ahead
Instead of cutting hours or laying off your workforce when things slow down, as is inevitable, look at the past year or years. Is there a pattern? Does business always seem to pick up during the spring, or maybe it’s the holidays? In any case, use your slow periods as a time to improve your operation and build up enough inventory to help cushion the next surge in demand for your product.