Guest Blog: Working “ON” the Business

Laurie Harbour
President and CEO  
Habour Results, Inc.
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

It is so true, but far too often businesses find themselves in this predicament to avoid change or in fear of making the situation worse.

Today, there are many challenges and opportunities facing the manufacturing industry, and it is up to each company to determine how to act or react. Below are four key initiatives that will help metalforming companies improve their business and drive better results.

Strategic Planning
Many companies have a vision that is articulated by leadership as the long-term business plan. The best companies have taken that vision and turned it into actionable one-year objectives that are cascaded to all levels of the organization. Metrics are in place and drive each employee’s role and responsibility in meeting the longer-term vision.

Gather Market Intelligence
To be successful companies need to gather market intelligence not only on its type of process, but also on each and every industry it serves. Market leaders have put people in place within their organization to gather market intelligence on customers in terms of forecasts, new models, new processes and materials as well as collect industry data. Companies can no longer afford to guess or rely on “luck.” They need to attend conferences, webinars and trade shows; talk with customers and analysts; and, tap into other sources to gather data and information that allows them to be more knowledgeable about their business.

Demand Planning
Demand planning is often the most challenging aspect of most stampers and die manufacturers. Companies often say they can’t get information from the customer. While, some of that is true, many times it’s because leadership didn’t ask. The best companies are realizing that even a little bit of demand planning is driving efficiency in their business 10 fold. Those companies that use market intelligence, talk to their customers, gather third-party data and use all means possible to do demand planning have shown that they can drive throughput by 20-30 percent making profitability soar.

Manufacturing Efficiency
The last initiative is something that has been discussed for decades – manufacturing efficiency. However, today companies should look at it differently. They need to view their operations as an entire system.  Rather than just improving the efficiency of one or more machines, the organization needs to analyze the system from scheduling to each and every piece of equipment that supports making the product. Those that have done this are having the ability to manage the high mix and lower volume demand the manufacturing industry is facing today. They are managing inventory better. Changeovers are improving and machine utilization is at an all time high. 

Some companies have done one or more of the four initiatives outlined here, but those that are doing all four are seeing significant returns. This year will be a great year for many and everyone has the opportunity to get there. No need to over complicate things but rather focus on the right things and work “ON” the business.

Guest blog post by Laurie Harbour, president and CEO, Habour Results, Inc.

See Laurie Harbour at The MFG Meeting in Orlando, FL on March 4 - 7, 2015 and at the  22nd Annual Automotive Parts Suppliers Conference in Troy, MI on April 28 - 29, 2015. 

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