The world economy is more interconnected than ever before. For manufacturers like you, that’s a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, you now have access to markets that were previously hard to reach. On the other hand, the Internet has made customers demand more of you because they’re used to finding everything their hearts desire right at their fingertips, and so their tastes are becoming increasingly fickle. In addition, these interconnected markets open up the opportunity for new competitors to invade your market.
That means shorter product cycles. Greater pressure to get to market quickly. And major variability in demand.
So, in addition to producing high-quality products quickly, you now must respond to constant changes in customer needs. Here are four business strategies that can help you do just that.
1. Make Your Business More Agile
Agility is a must to adjust to the ebbs and flows of business. If you’re serious about keeping your competitive edge, you’re making decisions to ensure you can produce products as cost-effectively as possible. All of this can put a strain on your business processes and IT infrastructure.
So, before you make any major business decision, ask yourself:
● Does our technology allow us to bring new facilities online quickly?
● How quickly can we respond to market fluctuations?
● Do we have strong enough reporting and analytics tools to show us the ongoing impact of our decisions?
● Can we use data generated by machines, sensors and other technologies to quickly adjust processes and workflows?
2. Highlight Your Key Differentiators
Your competition is tough, but you’re tougher. There must be something you consistently do better than them—otherwise, you wouldn’t still be in business. So, what’s your differentiator? Stop and think about how well you perform in terms of speed, dependability, flexibility, quality, and costs.
If you’re competing on price, make sure you have a manufacturing system that helps you lower your cost of delivery, reduce waste, and carry the right amount of inventory.
Competing on quality? Make sure you have a system that can deliver in-line quality checks for instant feedback and results.
Do you involve your customers and suppliers in your planning and execution processes? Consider the benefits of giving your customers visibility into your manufacturing flow. You can not only save time and money, but also strengthen your partnership and increase trust.
3. Simplify and Streamline Your Business Processes
If you’re like many manufacturers, you need many different tools just to run all the aspects of your business. Each system probably runs on its own database.
Do your systems communicate with one another? Are their databases synced? Is information accurate and easy to access? Do your customers ever get frustrated because you can’t provide a straight answer about delivery?
Data silos can strangle your efficiency and make it difficult to involve your supply chain partners in your processes. By consolidating on one manufacturing platform, you can give your suppliers faster, more convenient access to your business data and make it easier for them to collaborate with you in meeting customer needs.
4. Increase Your Operational Efficiency
Where do you see the most errors in your business? Is it in accounting, inventory management, or on the shop floor? Much of the blame can probably go to manual, paper-based processes and faulty data entry. By mistake-proofing these areas, you can avoid untold time and effort.
It all starts with streamlined processes and workflow automation. By using technology to enable smoother handoffs and eliminate bottlenecks, you can not only reduce costly errors, but also free up some of your best employees to take on value-added projects. For example, they can start addressing ongoing challenges such as equipment inefficiency, unplanned machine downtime, and high maintenance costs rather than managing manual paperwork and software maintenance.
If you don’t start adopting these strategies today, your competitors could beat you to the punch. Discover how to get started in the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. We’ve laid it all out for you in a free ebook: How Smart, Connected Manufacturers Run Their Businesses.