Manufacturing is a competitive environment experiencing rapid innovation around the world. The costs of development are rising, but the output is becoming more predictable, and the end product is better engineered. Improvements in factories impact a business in other ways as well, cutting the costs to operate or hire personnel long-term.
Creating a solid business requires lean thinking, and a willingness to make calculated upgrades with long-term returns on investment. Here are a few strategies currently helping factory owners find success in the booming world of advanced manufacturing.
Greener manufacturing helps improve cost savings, workers’ health, factory emissions, and a host of other factors. Improving facilities with greener techniques also reduces waste, making material usage efficient and reducing costs from unused supplies.
Advanced manufacturing also helps reduce waste, and the technology is becoming more widespread. Friction stir welding (FSW), created in the 1990s, has become the preferred method for automotive welding thanks to its clean and efficient process. FSW even enables manufacturers to work with notoriously difficult alloys, creating potentially stronger bonds. With no harmful fumes, the work environment is safer and the entire process greener.
Mercedes Benz cut the time its cars spent in testing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, proving that clever thinking sometimes leads to innovation. Green manufacturing is new territory, start with basics like adopting solar, then see what fits your business model.
Robotics and Precision
Advanced engineering enables manufacturers to work on more detailed and precise projects, improving return on investment. More complicated orders tend to have complex requirements that add to the total costs of a project. An automated factory also allows for predictable quantities, enabling easier cost forecasting when talking with suppliers or customers.
However, it’s important to consider personnel costs. A robotics upgrade will require CAD technicians for design, maintenance techs, operators, and more. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch. This machinery isn’t simple to use, but it is intuitive. Employees can and should be trained in proper usage and maintenance schedules.
A hidden benefit to automated manufacturing is maximizing floor space. Robots can be configured to fit a variety of spaces, working in extremely close quarters. Compact machinery frees up space on the factory floor for material storage or other uses.
Highly precise applications enable you to fulfill a wide variety of orders with a high turnaround. While not for every startup, advanced manufacturing offers a host of improvements in both safety and efficiency that are worthy of consideration.
Small Changes for Big Improvements
Green and efficient manufacturing doesn’t need to stop at material usage, simple adjustments to the factory floor can greatly improve margins. LED lighting, for example, leads to brighter workspaces while significantly reducing lighting costs.
It’s easy to forget the value of safety training, but the costs in dispute settlement can sink small startups. Safety training and improvements reduce violations and ensure staff is always trained on the latest technology. Good training also reduces turnaround.
Although it can be tricky to institute, a standardized approach to any facet of your manufacturing processes will reduce costs. Small changes like switching to a standard set of connectors, or screws, help cut costs on fulfillment and development. Use these standards wherever possible when discussing requirements with clients.
Manufacturing changes rapidly, and the agilest tend to stick around. Big contracts are constantly competing for cost savings, so the choices you make on your line directly affect revenue for the year. Upgrading factories can be expensive, but the costs of losing business to a competitor have a greater chance of sinking your business.