Here’s our opportunity, let’s maximise it…
The weaker pound is providing a great opportunity for exporters and we’ve seen the evidence this week with industry reports showing UK manufacturing activity bouncing back in August after the post-referendum uncertainty. There also seems to be more general optimism in output expectations for the coming months.
However, as Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Analysis and Surveys, explains in the latest CBI monthly Industrial Trends Survey “the pound’s weakness is a double-edged sword, as it benefits exporters but also pushes up costs and prices.”¹
With this in mind, a focus on efficiency and productivity is more important than ever if companies are to take advantage of the opportunities that these market conditions are presenting. We certainly see a new drive from companies seeking the tangible benefits offered by process control and performance improvement technologies as a means of overcoming the challenge of price competitiveness.
Reducing manufacturing costs: Spend less. Make more.
You either try to produce the same number of parts using fewer resources or you produce more on your existing resources. Technically these are two sides of the same coin. The ideal therefore is to strike a balance between them. The common factor is managing your resources effectively and maximising their productivity.
The first step is to get a true picture of your capacity. It is possible to do this manually but in a live and changing environment speed and responsiveness are key. The finite capacity model takes into consideration real capacity constraints within your organisation simultaneously. Constraints can include production capacity, factory calendars and resource efficiency factors. This level of detail delivers greater visibility, of both current and future capacity, which enables fast decisions to be made when striking a balance between operating efficiently (maximising your resource utilisation) and meeting customer demands.
- Easily identify whether adding capacity, for example overtime, really does improve performance
- Allocate work to the most suitable resources and ensure their available capacity is fully utilise
Productivity: An inactive machine is not making you money.
Once you know your true capacity you can start to focus on how to maximise its productivity potential. Your shop floor is a profit centre, so downtime and waste are critical factors that require close attention. Monitoring your resource activity, all productive and non-productive event data, starts to paint a picture of how hard your machines are working for you and whether they are delivering maximum return on investment. Collecting this data automatically provides immediate and factual information. You don’t have to waste time searching for answers. You can make informed business decisions quickly and confidently.
- Derive your true machine efficiency factor to drive productivity improvement targets and improve the accuracy of your production schedules.
- Take corrective action to minimise downtime and therefore maximise the profitability of your resources.
Let’s bring it all together. Finite capacity planning and scheduling tells you your true capacity. Monitoring tells you how effectively you’re using that capacity. The end result is offering a competitive solution to your customers that doesn’t eat into your margins. That’s just the simplistic view. These solutions can deliver so much more once you start asking more questions and their combined knowledge is infinitely more powerful.