When you hear the word “Agility” what do you think of?
For us it really does have a few meanings; one of which is how we describe one of our team who loves nothing more than a nimble hike up a mountain!
However, let’s look at this in terms of manufacturing and how it applies, what it means to us as providers and ultimately how it impacts our clients.
Within our team we have a wealth of experience and knowledge, many of our team began their careers as toolmakers using traditional methods and then moved along into other areas like sales, workflow and materials/logistics. What really stands out within our business is the amazing desire of the people we have in the team who are dedicated to improvements, quality, being the best, they can be and the difference we make to clients.
Here is our look at agile manufacturing – enjoy.
Agile manufacturing is a modern-day practice adopted by companies looking to keep in step with their customers and a competitive market. Regardless of the industry, it requires manufacturers who are reactive to consumer change and demand, who are swift with their solutions, and confident with their processes to deliver on products that consumers expected yesterday.
Society is swamped with fleeting trends and, along with busy lives, expectations for choice, and demand for high quality, speedily available products; the market has been driven into a competitive frenzy, requiring manufacturers to keep aware, keep driven, and keep up!
Agile manufacturers can harness this fast-paced change for a competitive advantage, without compromising the quality of their consumer end products. Whether it is a new product that has become an overnight sensation or a change somewhere along the supply chain, they are ready with a solution.
Agility commands refined processes that are strategically planned and adept at change. It encompasses flexibility and adaptability that is woven throughout every stage in the manufacturing process. Speed must be met with quality, which must be met with contained costs for company and customer alike. Manufacturers must anticipate the unexpected that can arise from volatile markets, erroneous forecasts, or simply a change of mind. Importantly, the unexpected must be met with composure and the appropriate measures to cushion the impact!
The basics to achieving agility
Manufacturers are faced with a digitalised society that has a global market at its fingertips. As such, lean manufacturing cultures focused on producing high volumes at low cost are being galvanised with agile practices, that focus on adaptability and receptiveness to the market. Products are customer focussed and created in response to demand, without reducing quality or impacting the budget.
However, with all the will in the world, manufacturers can only achieve agility when their tools and systems can deliver on their end goals.
Establishing an agile manufacturing system requires research and evaluation of the available technology and handling systems. An understanding of the relative integrated technology systems allows manufacturers to choose those best suited to the company. Digital transformation technologies have revolutionised manufacturing by allowing automation within the supply chain, and the subsequent smaller, ‘on demand’ acquisition of supplies that is driven by consumer demand, rather than market forecasts and mass production practices. But their success relies on interconnected departments with robust lines of communication, from customer to engineer, to delivery. Customers must also be kept intricately connected at each stage of the process to ensure a collaborative and customer focussed service. Incorporating product variation into the initial design process with customers, will also help avoid unnecessary redesign and keep the process efficient.
A skilled workforce, equipped with up-to-date knowledge and data is intrinsic to the functioning of an agile manufacturer. They must have the skills and confidence to operate innovative technology, understand the strategies used in agile manufacturing and importantly, how to implement them, if they are to respond to real time changes.
The combination of skilled workforces connected with smart technology solutions ensures a competitive advantage for agile companies who can react quickly to short windows of opportunity. With these systems in place, on shoring and reshoring is increasingly finding favour, allowing companies to source regionally and mitigate the risk of global disruption. This leveraged position allows agile manufacturers to make the most of local production capabilities that can quickly reach the market.
So, here at Global Precision, we appreciate all this and know it’s the market we operate in. For us, agile practices are vital and we have understood the changing relationship between consumers and the market. The focus for us is being able to respond and move up and down the manufacturing ladder depending on client’s projects, challenges, and ambitions. Embracing our Yorkshire roots and place within the community, we have forged strong partnerships and mutual support networks. Collaboration is fundamental to our operations, with client involvement key to every stage of our processes. We work with individuals and businesses within a wide range of sectors, and it is our agile methods that allow us to deliver exceptional service globally.
Talk to us today about your product vision.