As we move from 2022 to 2023, we’re focusing our annual trends-in-manufacturing blog on the two things that we’ve been talking about, literally, non-stop over the last 12 months. This is, in fact, the first time in 26 years that we’ve seen this kind of alignment among all manufacturers around two critical measures: Inventory Control and Production Scheduling.

As COVID has pushed the world supply chain all kinds of ways and things get harder to predict with the labor market, these two areas are ones that manufacturers struggle with consistently. Production requires two basic things: people to do the work (the actual production itself or even monitoring the machines) and raw materials (goods, materials, parts, assemblies). And the last 2 years have pushed these two areas of the business world the hardest.

 

THE GOLD-MEDAL-WINNING STRATEGY

We will be introducing new tools and ideas this year to track, measure, and control these two key issues; we simply do not think that these will revert to pre-pandemic levels. People and inventory are, often, the most expensive line items on your P&L. They are what drives your profitability.

I remember a coach once telling me that all athletes want the same thing. No one goes to the Olympics, it would seem, without a dream of winning. They know their times and their ability to perform versus the other competitors that are there. They have all the data they need to know on where they are likely to come in the standing at the end of the event. The Olympics do push people past their normal boundaries and there are always outstanding performances by those who were not expected to win.

However, everyone that shows up at the ice rink, swimming pool, shooting range, or start line, comes with the intention to win. They would not invest all the time it takes to get there without a dream of glory – something to come.

You do the same thing every day. You show up and perform with every intention of being profitable. A net positive on the bottom line may mean bonuses at Christmas or that new machine you’ve been wanting. No matter how you spend or save it, it strengthens your business long-term. Your profitability is like that elusive gold-medal-winning performance. Like those athletes, you start every job with the goal of finishing it well, on-time, and on-budget.

I simply cannot believe that anyone starts their day hoping to lose.

Learn how visibility can increase your capacity and profit

 
 

WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?

The difference for athletes may be the coaching, training, facilities, and equipment they have. When you talk to a bobsleigh driver, for instance, I’m guessing he or she will tell you, like Formula 1 drivers, that at some point, the equipment matters. Yes, you must be able to drive. You must have the skill to go fast. But at some magic point, the equipment is going to be what’s holding you back.

For you and your plant, the tools you use – the machines, training, and systems – are going to make the difference. You need a basic amount of organization. You need the sales team to bring the work – the orders. You need the workforce to show up. But to move forward, you need the systems and processes to really manage all that.

 

YOUR PRODUCTION SCHEDULE

Last week, we talked about inventory. You certainly need inventory to make and ship your products. But without a proper schedule, that inventory (and the rest of your facility) is in trouble. I cannot think of the last time I talked to a manufacturer that uses a single individual to finish the work to be done on a job from start to finish. We used to engage with manufacturers that had people doing multiple jobs – varying the work and taking it from one station to another throughout the production process. No longer.

Today’s workforce is varied and variable. They don’t want to do the same thing every day – that’s for certain. They may not even want the same hours every day. (An aside here – we’re speaking to an increasing number of manufacturers that are having to accommodate their workforce with flexible schedules to keep the best talent.) They also want the benefit of technology that everyone else is using. They want those upper-level tools that the A-caliber athletes get when they show up at the start line.

You, too, should be asking for and seeking those newest tools that will help propel you forward. Of course, you want to know what that looks like and to what end they will help. Be careful of those tools that make open promises. Every shop floor is a little different and the nuances of your particular workflow will determine the actual impact they can have.

Learn more about a data-driven shop

 

you need to move it

You need a tool that enables you to flex the work as much as your workforce (and your inventory and customers) are making you. Once you know the work to be done and you’ve sent it on its way, the time you spend in moving it around, adjusting the schedule, and tracking capacity with a whiteboard, a huddle sheet, or even an Excel file, is wasted time.

Quite frankly, the first decisions you make – the order, location, and priority of work – are the only ones that really drive your business. The rest are driven by a need for change based on what’s happening in real-time on the floor like insufficient inventory, work center capacity constraints, and operator variability. These are the decisions that are costing you money, taking up time, and not driving you forward.

A Production Schedule should be initiated and then left to its own devices, provided you have a tool that can do that for you. You are trying to be both cost-effective and efficient here.

an on-going conversation

We will continue the conversation around the tools you need to do your work and what impact they might have on you this year. We’re committed to developing and sharing the technology that supports the largest manufacturers in America with manufacturers that are smaller in size, but equal in need. The tools they need are the ones you need as well, sized (and priced) appropriately. The challenges they have are yours. The supply chain shortages and workforce challenges are as well. 

I'D LIKE TO SEE QUANTUM

For you, they may hit harder as you don’t have layers of management to work through them. You may be the person that sets the schedule and solves it as well as manages sales. That doesn’t make your needs any less urgent. We understand and welcome the opportunity to show you how Complete Production Control would help you gain momentum in the new year.

Next week, we will talk further about increased control of inventory. Until then, ask us your questions at info@cimx.com.  Or better yet, view a demo catered to your specific needs. You decide, and we look forward to meeting you.

Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.

 

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