So what caused the slow down?
- Program delays—on average, just over 20 percent of vehicle launches were delayed in 2015 and 2016.
- Work on hold—in early 2016, 18 percent of all work that had been awarded was on hold for reasons outside the tooling shops.
Delivering Operational Excellence
Today, tool and die making is no longer an art, but a manufacturing process. Yes, it is true that each die is unique, but the process to build it should be standard and repeatable. A shop owner’s goal should be to reduce all unnecessary activity and the key to that is collecting and analyzing the right data. Easier said than done, we know.
The best die shops are investing in technology to help them better understand what is happening on the shop floor. Tools such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and machine monitoring systems can assist in gathering data points and tracking key trends over time (utilization and efficiency) to help better make informed decisions impacting the shop.
Harbour Results has coined the phrase—Operational Holy Grail—which has three key functions that are critical for effectively aligning a business:
- Resource Monitoring
- Capacity and Demand Planning
- Production Scheduling
2017 and Beyond
To be successful in the automotive industry, tool and die shops must look for opportunities to create a competitive advantage. With that in mind, the following are three key areas of focus (beyond operational excellence) that should be a priority for shop owners.
- Understand your customer—Who are they? What’s going on in their industry? What is their product plan? What is available to my shop in the market? Gathering customer and market data gives you a leg up on the competition. It will help you develop a solid sales strategy and pursue profitable business for your company.
- Focus on your niche—What is your why? If you can focus in on why customers should do business with you and what makes you unique, it will create a barrier so that other shops can’t infringe on your business.
- Invest smartly—Invest with a purpose; to improve your agility, grow in other regions, create a sales process or strengthen your aging workforce. Understand what your company’s pain points are and look to invest to make improvements.