Resolving three key manufacturing challenges with process optimisation

The UK manufacturing sector continues to grow, even in uncertain times around Brexit. It is currently the ninth largest globally and contributes to a huge 44% of the UK exports. Rapid growth has resulted in successes and struggles, bringing about concerns faced by few other industries as a whole.

To continually grow as they have done in the past, discrete manufacturers have to conquer adversity, dealing with unique challenges. 

In this first blog of a three-part series, Stuart Querns – Enterprise Asset Management Capability Lead at global advanced ICT solutions and services company, Delaware – explores the key challenges in the industry and how technology can be used to address these issues.

Empower decision makers with accurate data

Stock Image - Manufacturing WorkersAs with the ever demanding market, it’s become the norm to have to do more with less.

Which means increasing pressure from senior leadership, especially around Inventory Management.

Of all the challenges discrete manufacturers face, visibility and management continue to be the most prevalent.

Of the common issues facing manufacturers, which are you finding the most challenging in your business?

  • Multiple excel spreadsheets with no single point of truth
  • Difficulty in monitoring KPIs
  • Excess Inventory levels causing SG&A problems
  • Failure to keep track of stock
  • Low product turnover

With the ever-growing demand for increased product variations, this throws into the mix the problem of sourcing the raw materials in the first place.

With a lot of suppliers needing extended lead times to get the products to the manufacturer, organisations struggle to forecast their inventory demand early and correctly; if not done properly it puts increased pressure on production planning and ultimately, client relationships become strained due to poor order fulfillment, sometimes to a point beyond repair.

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  • How to shorten lead times and improve the customer experience with real-time reporting
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Simplify production with predictive planning

It’s an area of Discrete Manufacturing which is the heartbeat of operations.

Engineering Workers Skills Talent - StockThese challenges can be detrimental to the success or failure of many manufacturers, with increased product complexity and the need to get products out of the door quicker, Production Planning takes a fundamental role in ensuring efficient processes and people management.

Within the realms of production planning, here are a number of key issues facing manufacturers.

How many of the below are still putting the pressure on your production planning?

  • Use of unsuitable and dated technology, such as Excel, to manage planning
  • Lack of data visibility from teams not seeing the shop floor
  • Over optimistic scheduling without factoring in possible downtime
  • Reactive instead of proactive maintenance for asset management
  • No clear understanding of capacity
  • Minimal continuous improvement planning
  • No clear visibility for customers of where products are in production process
  • Customer pressure on visibility of source pricing and sell pricing impacting margins

Proactive management of fluctuating customer demand

Innovation Stock ImageIt’s becoming very common to have endless product variations.

Customer demand on organisations to demonstrate flexibility and continue to meet requirements but with more product variations, is now the reality of today’s discrete manufacturing industry.

The identification of changing demand patterns is certainly a common problem, product lifecycles are reducing drastically and the volumes are on the increase. This puts strains on enough skilled labour, equipment which has the ability to produce masses of product variants quickly and with minimal downtime.

All these are drivers for hitting the bottom line and are a key issue within the cost pressure challenge.

How process optimisation is addressing manufacturing challenges

With the above issues being very current, they are having real-time and drastic implications on the ability to meet the increasingly challenging revenue targets as well as satisfy customer demand.

Process optimisation is critical in manufacturing to:

  • Drive a proactive, transparent supply chain
  • Build a foundation for innovation to take advantage of IoT, predictive analytics and blockchain
  • Enable adaptability in rapidly changing markets

Without innovation in the business process and technology aspects of manufacturing, organisations are failing to address these challenges and are heading on a downward spiral.

The Industrial Strategy highlights the High Value Manufacturing Catapult as an exemplar of the Catapult model.Consequently, competitors who innovate and continue to meet the ever demanding customer needs are the ones who are succeeding both now and in the long-term. Short term vision and planning can mean long term failure or stagnating growth.

Next up: The challenge of complex supply chains and the impact on business planning


Written by Stuart Querns, Enterprise Asset Management Capability Lead, Delaware

stuart.querns@delaware.co.uk

Stuart has been involved in delivering SAP ERP solutions, with a particular focus on Enterprise Asset Management, for the past 22 years.

Coming from a Mechanical Engineering background and Upstream Oil and Gas operational roles, he has subsequently worked across many industry sectors delivering transformational solutions, ranging from Manufacturing, Oil and Gas to Aerospace and Defence.

Much of this work has been delivered across a diverse regional spread, including UK/Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia working with large Global Organisations as well as regionally focused companies.