Manufacturing Slump: Strategies for planning for the future

Insight provided by, James Humphreys, specialist at Katana ERP manufacturing

A well-considered and planned manufacturing strategy is crucial for the success of manufacturing businesses. But, why are strategies for manufacturing important when production is slowing down? How have they evolved, and what manufacturing strategies are easy for companies to implement?

A manufacturing strategy is a long-term plan that utilizes the resources of the manufacturing system to support the business strategy and achieve the business objectives.

In today’s landscape, a manufacturing strategy is often intertwined with a company’s digital strategy, with a focus on the tactical management of production and technology, driving all the company’s goals and targets.

As Gündüz Ulusoy noted in 2003, formulating a marketing strategy requires making three strategic choices in three key areas: competitive priorities, manufacturing objectives and action plans.

Competitive priorities encompass decisions regarding:

  • Quality levels
  • Reliability
  • Design changes
  • Deliveries
  • New products

Manufacturing objectives involve decision-making on:

  • Unit costs
  • Market share
  • Profitability
  • Product development time

Action plans include decisions about:

  • Production
  • Energy saving
  • Employee empowerment
  • Staff training

Once these decisions are made and a company’s priorities are identified, an overarching marketing strategy can be developed.

Why is a manufacturing strategy important?

A manufacturing strategy forms the foundation of how a business operates. To ensure alignment with the overall business strategy, a manufacturing strategy must focus on maximizing quality, minimizing costs, avoiding wastage and improving flexibility. These goals must be driven by higher aspirations such as increasing market share and profitability.

Marketing strategies ensure that a company avoids inefficiencies, optimizes production and ultimately achieves its goals. As Steve Lam, Senior Vice President of Patheon’s Biologics Business, states, considering your manufacturing strategy early on in development pays dividends down the line, regardless of the industry you operate in.

So, the question arises: Would your business survive without a manufacturing strategy?

Easy-to-implement manufacturing strategies for companies

When selecting a manufacturing strategy, it’s important to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Instead, focus on finding a strategy that suits your business and provides a competitive edge in the increasingly competitive environment. Start by identifying your competitive advantage and build your strategy around it.

Every decision, from machinery selection to automation systems, should bring you closer to maximizing your competitive advantage.

Now, let’s explore some examples of manufacturing strategies you can implement:

  1. Embrace technology

Having an agile IT function that can adapt to your business’s needs is crucial. Identify relevant technologies that can enhance your manufacturing processes. Explore services and apps that you may not have considered before.

  1. Reduce costs and waste

This is self-evident. Your manufacturing strategy should address any flaws in your processes that result in financial losses. Production times, processes, and product quality are non-negotiable areas that require attention.

  1. Optimize inventory

Adopt lean inventory principles to save costs and gain a competitive edge. Understanding your stock levels and responding to customer needs more efficiently can lead to significant improvements.

  1. Prepare for the future

Stay abreast of industry developments, such as Industry 4.0, and ensure your manufacturing strategies are adaptable. Flexibility is essential, allowing you to pivot when necessary.

Designing manufacturing strategies for success

Manufacturing strategies are essential for keeping businesses in motion. Successful businesses choose strategies that align with their long-term ambitions.

Innovative software, visibility and control are often the pillars of a successful manufacturing strategy. However, the implementation should be tailored to your business.

The key is to be smart about it—identify the manufacturing strategies that suit your current business model and keep you ahead of the competition in the future. Continuously evaluate and measure your success to provide customers with the products they need, even before they realize it themselves.

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