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For many, the turmoil surrounding the supply chain over the past few years has shed light on areas in need of improvement. One such aspect of business that companies who rely on suppliers now recognize as more important than ever is effective vendor relationship management. Let’s take a brief overview of why building strong vendor relationships is crucial and explore some approaches to enhance how they are managed.
Vendor relationship management refers to the process of nurturing buyer-supplier relationships to establish a solid foundation of trust and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. When this process is refined and relationships are enriched, it can lead to various key benefits, such as improved data flow and smoother operations.
However, those who neglect modern vendor management or fail to oversee relationships effectively risk potential losses. These losses may come in the form of lost revenue or wasted time fixing errors that could have been avoided with a more streamlined process. Therefore, vendor relationship management is vital in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive market.
Since each vendor is unique and plays a different role, vendor relationships cannot be managed in the same way. Hence, a well-designed process should be established to improve the vendor procurement and investment process from the outset. This involves taking the time to thoroughly research potential vendors and understanding their business operations. Not only can these robust vendor management practices lead to better-informed decisions, but they can also result in improved negotiations. When the partnership is built on a relationship that both parties wish to sustain and has been negotiated in good faith, it can be more profitable overall.
Another approach to enhancing vendor management is to revamp the existing procedures for planning, onboarding, and performance tracking. Many organizations turn to Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software to streamline these processes. CLM software can help optimize the management of vendor contracts and provide valuable data on contract performance through comprehensive tracking. When combined with other modern strategies, a sophisticated CLM platform can increase procurement efficiency, reduce risk, and lead to more cost-effective and high-performing vendor contracts.
It’s essential to recognize that effective vendor management goes beyond mere transactional relationships between organizations and third-party vendors. To derive the maximum value from vendor relationships in the future, companies of all sizes need to carefully consider every aspect of their buyer-supplier relationships and devise a contemporary and collaborative vendor relationship management strategy.
This infographic provides further insights on improving vendor management:
Improving Vendor Management Relations from Agiloft, a provider of enterprise contract management software
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As businesses continue to produce massive amounts of data in today’s world, effectively managing and leveraging this information has become a major challenge. One crucial solution to this challenge is data archiving.
Keep reading to learn more about the significance of data archiving in enhancing operational efficiency, and why it’s a critical step for any business looking to streamline its processes and maximize its potential.
What is Data Archiving?
Not all data is equally important, and not all data needs to be accessed frequently. This is where data archiving comes in. It’s the process of identifying and separating inactive or infrequently accessed data and storing it in a separate location for long-term retention.
By doing so, data archiving helps free up valuable space on primary storage systems, which in turn reduces storage costs and improves system performance. Data archiving involves a careful analysis of data based on its importance, age, and frequency of use. This ensures that important data remains easily accessible while less important data is stored in a cost-effective way.
Data archiving not only helps improve operational efficiency but also provides businesses with several other benefits. For instance, it can help companies meet legal and compliance requirements by ensuring that they retain data for the required period of time. It also helps in securing sensitive information by isolating it from active data and providing additional security measures.
Why is Data Archiving Important for Operational Efficiency?
Data archiving is a powerful tool that can significantly improve operational efficiency. Freeing up primary storage systems from inactive data allows businesses to reduce the amount of data that needs to be processed, which can lead to a faster access to active data. This improved access to data can result in faster response times for critical business processes, which can ultimately lead to a boost in overall system performance.
When business operations run smoothly and efficiently, organizations can better allocate resources, reduce costs, and ultimately achieve their objectives more effectively.
For instance, consider a supply chain management firm that generates large amounts of data on a daily basis. With data archiving, the firm can move inactive data to less expensive storage options, freeing up space on primary storage systems.
This leads to a faster access to active data, which can improve order processing times and reduce delays in product delivery. By optimizing its operations in this way, the firm can streamline its supply chain, reduce costs, and ultimately deliver better outcomes for its clients.
Data archiving can also help organizations respond more quickly to changing market conditions. Businesses can quickly adapt to shifting market demands and customer preferences, ensuring that they remain competitive and responsive to the needs of their customers. When business processes are streamlined and optimized, organizations can operate more efficiently, make better decisions, and achieve their goals more effectively.
One of the key benefits of data archiving is that it can lead to significant cost savings for businesses. By relocating inactive data to more cost-effective storage options, such as tape or cloud storage, businesses can reduce their overall storage costs.
This is particularly advantageous for organizations that generate large amounts of data, as the cost of primary storage systems can be quite expensive. Implementing data archiving strategies helps businesses optimize their storage usage, reduce their expenses, and ultimately improve their financial performance.
Compliance and Legal Requirements
In today’s regulatory environment, many businesses are required by law to retain certain types of data for a specific period of time. Failure to meet these compliance and legal requirements can result in severe penalties and fines.
By storing data in a secure and easily accessible location, data archiving helps businesses meet these obligations, ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Add implementing data archiving practices, businesses can mitigate the risk of legal penalties and fines, and focus on their core operations.
Data security is a top priority for any business that handles sensitive information. Data archiving can play a significant role in improving data security by separating inactive data from active data and applying additional security measures.
That way, data archiving helps reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Implementing data archiving practices enables businesses to better safeguard their data, reduce security risks, and protect themselves and their customers from potential harm.
When it comes to business continuity, data archiving is a crucial component of any disaster recovery plan. By storing data in a separate location, businesses can recover critical data more quickly in the event of a disaster or system failure. This means that businesses can resume their operations faster and minimize the impact of any interruption.
Data archiving is an essential practice for any organization that values continuity and resilience and can provide peace of mind in the face of unforeseen events. Implementing data archiving strategies helps businesses prepare themselves for any eventuality, and ensure that they are well-positioned to weather any storm.
In today’s data-driven world, data archiving is a game-changer for businesses dealing with massive amounts of information. It’s the key to unlocking faster access to essential data, cost savings, legal compliance, data security, and uninterrupted business operations.
In other words, implementing a data archiving strategy is the ultimate solution for businesses looking to level up their game and achieve peak efficiency. So, don’t wait any longer; it’s time to archive your way to success!
*This articles is written by Mina Klein. Mina is a passionate tech and business blogger. She is interested in topics that cover data regulation, compliance, business communication, digital marketing, and social media.
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Supply chain technology has come a long way in the past few years. Improvements in AI technology and deep learning programs can help supply chain managers accurately predict shortages, adapt to current conditions, and operate more efficiently.
Supply chain technology can also be used to improve the customer journey. Effective supply chain management leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to give consumers greater control over their orders. Emerging technology can also be used to reduce human error, increase operational efficiency, and improve security.
These breakthroughs in technology improve the customer experience and ensure that consumers get the products they want when they need them.
CX and SCM
At first glance, consumer experience (CX) and supply chain management (SCM) seem unrelated. However, as senior sales executive Sven Esser points out “the relationship between CX and SCM is symbiotic.”
Esser goes on to explain that effectively mapping the customer journey is an important facet of effective CX and SCM. Predicting consumer behavior ensures that supply chains are operating as efficiently as possible and that consumers have accurate information about shipping and order fulfillment before they check out.
Esser advocates for a model of SCM that gets to know consumers and uses AI analytics to accurately map and predict the typical consumer journey. This will help businesses connect with consumers’ personal needs and help supply chain managers shift to a more “customer-focused effort.”
Businesses can use AI analytics to map the consumer journey and improve their SCM through Google Analytics (GA4). GA4 is typically used by marketers who want to improve the materials. However, GA4 can also be used to track users from the referral page to the conversion or exit page.
Supply chain managers can work with marketing to get a better picture of the consumer journey and typical behavior. GA4 can be particularly useful for businesses that use the IoT to place orders or improve CX.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing industries around the world. Consumers and businesses can use the IoT to link devices and create “smart” networks between products and machines.
The IoT can also improve the efficiency of supply chains by giving businesses an up-to-date assessment of inventory and potential problems. For example, a business that runs an IoT-integrated warehouse will be aware of issues like faulty equipment and disrupted supply lines earlier than competitors who do not leverage the IoT.
IoT-integrated supply chains can improve the consumer journey directly, too. IoT technology makes it easier for customers to place and edit orders. For example, folks who utilize smart home devices like Google Nest or Amazon’s Alexa can place and edit orders with a simple voice command.
Emerging technology like AI software and the IoT is designed to improve operational efficiency and streamline the consumer journey. However, human error still threatens to derail business operations and supply chains.
Supply chain managers can reduce the risk of human error in the workplace by automating relevant processes. This is particularly important in warehouse management, where human error may result in injury due to repetitive motions or dangerous working conditions. Automated machines in smart factories and warehouses can take humans out of the firing line and ensure that customers have their orders fulfilled with minimal delays.
Supply chain technology can also improve post-sale communication with consumers. Consumers who have ordered expensive goods want regular updates on the status of their products. Businesses can send out automated emails when the customer’s product has passed production phases and is ready for shipping. Automated communication improves the customer journey by alleviating worries about order fulfillment without derailing operational efficiency.
Operational efficiency is at the heart of a successful customer journey. Customers can tell when all departments are working in unison and will benefit from quicker order fulfillment due to higher efficiency in the workplace.
Maximizing operational efficiency is particularly important for businesses that use Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management. JIT inventory management relies on accurate consumer forecasts and robust supply chain management to ensure that businesses get the inventory they need just when they need it. This can result in major savings, which can be passed onto the consumer or used to otherwise improve the customer journey.
However, for inventory management methods like JIT to work, businesses need to hyperautomate their operations. Hyperautomation allows businesses to “rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Hyperautomation relies on deep learning programs that can successfully capture and utilize massive data sets. This will improve the customer journey, too, as the same data sets can be used to present personalized adverts and products to consumers.
Emerging technology like the IoT can have a direct impact on the customer journey. Consumers today can place, edit, and receive orders using a network of machines and devices that are connected by AI algorithms. Recent upgrades to supply chain technology can also improve operational efficiency and reduce the risk of human error in factories and warehouses. This ensures that consumers receive their orders with minimal delay and at a lower cost.
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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There’s no sugar-coating it. It’s tough out there for manufacturers on the front lines of the hiring wars. We are in an unprecedented hiring-and-retention situation in this country. The Great Resignation numbers just keep climbing. According to CNN, 47.4 million people left their jobs in 2021. That’s a lot of open positions and a lot of people out of work. You’d think it would be a hirer’s market. It’s just the opposite.
“54% of U.S. manufacturers are finding it difficult to attract skilled workers to get the job done. That’s up from 38% before the pandemic.”
Companies in all industries are feeling the hiring pain, but manufacturing is getting hit especially hard. IndustryWeek reports that 54% of U.S. manufacturers are finding it difficult to attract skilled workers to get the job done. That’s up from 38% before the pandemic. Competition for skilled workers to fill all of those jobs has never been more intense. And that competition isn’t just coming from other manufacturers. It’s also coming from other industries, like transportation, warehousing, even retail.
Hiring is only one part of the challenge. It’s also about retention. From a study by the Workforce Institute at HR solutions company UKG, manufacturers are getting “ghosted” by workers who simply don’t show up for their shifts. A shocking 68% of manufacturers said they let employees go because of it between January and March 2021.
So, what’s going on? Instead of the Great Resignation, you might call it the Great Reassessment. As Industry Week puts it, workers aren’t just reassessing what they do for their 9-to-5 and walking out the door, they’re also thinking about where they do it and why they do it. People have streamed out of the workplace in record numbers because they want more. More pay, more flexibility, more benefits, more meaning and more happiness.
Manufacturers who understand that is the key to winning the hiring wars. Let’s look at how to put that into practice when you’re trying to hire and retain employees.
What manufacturers can do to hire and retain workers
Here are six strategies to help you attract and keep the people you need to get the job done.
1. Open your company purse strings. To borrow a line from Cuba Gooding Jr., show them the money. With McDonald’s paying more than $20 an hour to flip burgers, it’s tough to compete with that. But look at what your competition is paying and match it, or if possible, exceed it. Job seekers today are ultra-choosy, and a high salary is one of the most important weapons in your hiring arsenal.
2. Cast your net wider. Do you have a background check that excludes people who have had felonies or other arrests? Would you consider hiring a retiree? How about someone with special needs? From the same Workforce Institute study, 62% of manufacturers have hired or considered hiring people with special needs, 56% have hired retirees, and 52% are considering hiring people who have been incarcerated. You may not have considered this talent pool in the past, but there are great advantages to hiring people who traditionally have trouble getting a break. Increased loyalty is a big one.
3. Work with schools to train and recruit students. The National Law Review points out that an entire generation of manufacturing workers is getting ready for retirement, and younger workers simply don’t have the skills to take up the mantle. By training students and those just out of school, you’ll be creating a pool of new employees who have the skills to get the job done in your workplace. This, in turn, will help reduce the skills gap that separates your new hires from your seasoned veterans and retirees.
4. Rethink your benefits. Your benefits package is especially important in luring Great Resigners back into the workplace. As we said, many people have quit their jobs because they’re looking for something more, and benefits are a big part of that. Robust health care that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is a must. But think outside the box, too. Industries like retail and hospitality are luring younger workers by offering to pay off their student debt, cover childcare expenses and grant generous PTO.
5. Invest in upskilling and training. This is vital for retention, but it’s important for hiring, too. If your candidates know you are committed to your current employees’ futures, giving them the opportunity to learn new and valuable skills, it’s a big plus. It shows you’re in it for the long term, not just hiring a warm body to fill a hole on the line. For your employees who are already on the job, upskilling and training can increase their engagement exponentially. One of our clients recently put a new training program in place for longtime employees and awarded certificates when they completed the course successfully. Engagement went through the roof, along with employees’ pride of achievement. A benefit for you, along with happier, more engaged employees, lies in cross training your people. That way, if and when an employee “ghosts” you on a shift, you’ll have a pool of qualified people to step in and do the job.
6. Consider your efficiency. Are your machines breaking down frequently? Are there stoppages on the line? The same client of ours that invested in training and upskilling realized that their employees were continually frustrated with snafus on the line day in and day out. Correcting those problems and making your operations as efficient as possible gives employee satisfaction a boost and helps with retention. Also, it’s crucial to involve employees at all levels, from the corner office to the line on the shop floor, in the process of improving your operation’s efficiency. People with varying viewpoints of the job bring a variety of opinions and ideas to the table.
At USC Consulting Group, we’ve spent more than 50 years helping companies improve employee engagement and realize greater efficiency in their operations. Ready to talk about what we can do for you? Give us a call.
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Everyday we set out to conquer life in various ways. We conquer fears, objections, and challenges. It is how we overcome these obstacles that defines are character and successes.
There was a famous historical figure with the moniker William the Conqueror who set out on a conquest which changed the face of history. While we are not conquering nations in the name of our country, we do find victories everyday for ourselves and our companies.
The following is a story illustrating one such victory overcoming operational issues that many others can also achieve themselves…
This is the story of William the Conqueror. No, not the 11th century figure, but William the VP of Operations at Acme Widget Company. He is under siege with problems that are eating into operational efficiency, causing delays and slowing down his throughput.
There’s trouble on the line. Machinery breakdowns are causing delays. And William is struggling to hire and retain skilled employees to get the job done.
The result of this operational onslaught? Acme Widget Company is not meeting its demand at a critical time. William is getting frustrated. So is his boss.
So William called USC Consulting Group — an operations management consulting firm that has been helping companies identify trouble spots, reduce operating costs, and increase efficiency and throughput for more than 50 years.
Working with William, USC Consulting Group investigated the Five M’s:
1. Machine (Does it need maintenance?)
2. Methods (Can you make processes more efficient?)
3. Materials (Supply chain bottlenecks?)
4. Measurements (Are we measuring the right things?)
5. Man or Woman power (Are your people skilled and trained?)
Focusing on the Five M’s and with USC’s help, William and his team got things running smoothly, with improved efficiency and increased throughput. William’s boss was so pleased with the results that he promoted William to COO*. William had, indeed, conquered his operational issues.
If you are experiencing operational issues like William, give USC Consulting Group a call today and we will put our expertise to work for you, too. *You may not be promoted to COO, but you will increase your operation’s efficiency.
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This is the story of William the Conqueror.
No, not the 11th century figure, but William the Vice President of Operations at Acme Widget Company who becomes the Savior of Operational Improvements. William is under siege with problems that are eating into operational efficiency, causing delays and slowing down his throughput. There’s trouble on the line. Machinery breakdowns are causing delays. William’s supervisors aren’t communicating issues during shift changes. And William is struggling to hire and retain skilled employees to get the job done.
The result of this operational onslaught? Acme Widget Company is not meeting its demand at a critical time. William is getting frustrated with the delays, breakdowns and inefficiencies. So is his boss.
That’s when William called USC Consulting Group — an operations management consulting firm that has been helping companies identify trouble spots, reduce operating costs, and increase efficiency and throughput for more than 50 years.
Working with William, USC Consulting Group investigated the Five M’s:
- Machine (Does it need maintenance?)
- Methods (Can you make processes more efficient?)
- Materials (Supply chain bottlenecks?)
- Measurements (Are we measuring the right things?)
- Man or Woman (Are your people skilled and trained?)
Focusing on the five Ms and with USC’s help, William and his team got things running smoothly, with improved efficiency and increased throughput. William’s boss was so pleased with the results that he promoted William to COO*.
William had, indeed, conquered his operational issues.
Moral of the Story: William is not a real person, however, the struggles he and his team were experiencing are a reality for many executives today. Are you experiencing issues like William’s? Would you like to discover operational improvements in your business to increase your throughput and efficiency? Give USC Consulting Group a call at 1-800-888-8872 and we will put our expertise to work for you.
*You may not get promoted to COO, but you will increase your operation’s efficiency.
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Demand is back. After many industries saw customer demand dry up during the pandemic, it is surging like it hasn’t in a long time. Consumers are spending money again. That’s the good news. The bad news? Companies across many industries, especially manufacturing, are struggling to meet that demand.
The reasons for this are as varied and unique as every company out there, but we are seeing a one-two punch creating capacity limits among our clients: the tight hiring market coupled with supply chain disruptions. So, how can businesses overcome these restraints and get ahead in the current landscape? First, let’s understand the issues at hand.
The hiring problem
We haven’t seen this tight of a hiring market in two decades or more. Businesses in many industries were forced to lay off or furlough workers during the pandemic, and now that demand is back up, they’re finding it next to impossible to fill those shoes, or in many workplaces, steel-toed boots. Why? The pandemic caused employees of all stripes to rethink their life choices. Maybe they don’t want to work in a manufacturing facility, or retail shop, or in a cubicle anymore. The result of that is what economists are calling “The Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4 million people up and quit their jobs in April 2021. In May, that number dipped “all the way down” to 3.6 million, but by the time June rolled around, it was back up to 3.9. We haven’t seen this kind of mass exodus in generations, if ever. Make no mistake, the jobs are out there. Companies in all industries are scrambling, even desperate, to fill them. But this is not a matter of “if you post it, they will come.” They’re not coming.
The supply chain problem
Yes, many restrictions have been lifted, but supply chain snags, roadblocks, disruptions and downright stoppages continue to bedevil many industries. So even if you have enough people to get the job done, the supplies may or may not be there when you need them.
The hiring crunch and supply chain double whammy, combined with skyrocketing demand, is creating a difficult situation out there for many industries.
How USC Consulting Group can help
When it comes right down to it, meeting increased demand with fewer workers and a disrupted supply chain means one thing: Getting the job done requires increasing your operational efficiency. At USC Consulting Group, that’s our specialty. We’ve been doing it for 50-plus years. But it’s not easy. Sure, everyone wants to do more with less. But how, exactly? Here are some ways we find work well to ferret hidden opportunities for greater efficiency.
Engage the line. This means getting up close and personal with anyone who has anything to do with the production line, mining their expertise about what’s working and what’s not, and looking closely at the job on an hour-by-hour basis. Looking at the operation through that lens, you’ll be surprised what you can find.
Get a firm handle on capacity. How much is actually possible to produce? How much time will it take?
Rethink your staffing. How many people will it really take to get the job done? Looking at the operation with an eye toward people power, you may find you can get the job done with fewer employees. Which is good news for companies scrambling during this hiring crunch.
Scrutinize the management operating system. This is about how you plan your work, assign it and follow up to ensure the job is getting done. Make this part of your business a well-oiled machine.
Get real about throughput. What is the ideal “drumbeat” of your production line? Are things moving at the right speed? But, this isn’t just about speed. It’s about producing good product faster.
In the end, we use these and other strategies to uncover opportunities for efficiency and help companies meet rising demand even with the constraints they’re facing today. If you’d like to read about this topic in more depth, download our whitepaper, “Strategies for Meeting Customer Demand” or give us a call today. We’re ready to help.
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In manufacturing, working smarter is the key to reducing costs, improving quality, expanding sales and maximizing operational profitability. An important way to work smarter is by implementing a Design for Manufacturing (DFM) methodology. The accompanying resource provides an excellent overview of what DFM is, why it is so important, and how to implement it effectively.
This infographic will be helpful for anyone involved in a startup manufacturing business, or for team members of an established manufacturing business looking for ways to combat competition; bring products to market more quickly; or improve the overall quality of parts, components or products.
The fundamental idea behind DFM is to design parts for ease of manufacturing, starting at the beginning of the design process. This is a major change from the days when designers would hand designs to engineers — at which point serious problems arose because the designs were impractical (or impossible) to manufacture. The result: bogged down product development; tension between design and engineering teams; costly redesigns late in the product development process; and, worst of all, product flaws after market introduction and/or high prices driven by high production cost that limited unit sales and market penetration.
DFM is somewhat different from Design for Assembly (DFA). This point is important to consider for manufacturers involved in products requiring assembly during or after the manufacturing process.
For a more detailed analysis about Design For Manufacturing, Soldy Manufacturing has put together the essentials and benefits in this infographic:
Whether it is the design of your products or the layout of a new facility, USC Consulting Group can help enhance both your planning process and operational functionality. Contact us today and we can share how we put our over 50 years of experience to work for our clients to improve their planning and efficiency.
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Process improvement. We haven’t met a company yet that doesn’t want to do more with what they already have, do it better, more efficiently and more effectively. The goal is to ramp up operational efficiency without huge upgrades in technology or other assets by identifying and eliminating wasteful practices and procedures.
It’s a matter of finding hidden opportunities by seeing the forest for the trees. Generally speaking, our clients have been getting the job done one way for a very long time. We look at their operations with fresh eyes and often find opportunities for efficiency by focusing on issues that are generally accepted as “just the way things are.” Other times, our clients know where the bottlenecks are, but are unsure how to go about fixing them. Occasionally, our clients get pushback from employees about fixing bottlenecks. It might take someone from the outside, like us, to help implement changes that will get things moving faster and more efficiently.
We draw on our experience, but we’ve found that every client is unique, and every operation has its own bottlenecks, challenges and areas in which efficiency can be improved. We go in like a detective to uncover yours. It’s one of the reasons we find this work so exciting.
What are hidden opportunities?
Hidden opportunities for efficiency can already exist in your operation, but you’re not aware of them. What they are, and where they hide, depend on the industry you’re in. We’re the specialists in uncovering them. A few examples:
- Excessive cycle time. Cycle time to produce a part could be reduced by redistributing the work between cycles so that more of the activities take place in parallel vs. in series.
- Excessive time for changeovers on a machine. There are activities that could be started and even completed before the changeover starts.
- Differences in or a breakdown of planning for supply, demand and output. One example of differences in planning is if clients have multiple plants or locations. They might also be dealing with different metrics, goals or systems for planning and forecasting. Getting everyone on the same page, working for the same goals, companywide is vital. An example of a breakdown of planning exists when clients are using data that’s too old to plan for the future.
We start the process of finding hidden opportunities by finding the answers to a few questions.
- Where is the problem?
- Is it technical or tactical?
- Is it feasible?
If it’s technical, maybe it’s time to bring in the engineers to improve on your machines’ functions. If it’s tactical, we look at your processes, the way you’re using those machines, to find those hidden efficiencies.
We also take a hard look at the feasibility of your goal. If you’re producing 900 tons per day and the demand is 1,100, can we reasonably get you there? Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes we can split the difference and get you close to the goal. Sometimes we can hit that goal and then some.
For more information about this, read our blog, What If Demand Exceeds Your Ability to Produce?
How do we find them?
We find hidden opportunities for efficiency in your operations using our tried-and-true methodology for process improvement that we’ve honed for 50-plus years. But, that doesn’t mean we sell a canned, “off the shelf” solution. Just the opposite. The way we work leads us to our clients’ unique needs, not toward what worked for the other guy. It is a collaborative approach that allows us to find a customized solution we construct and implement together.
Here’s more about how we work:
We start by listening to you. We don’t come in offering solutions right out of the gate. The first thing we do is sit down and listen to our clients. We want to understand from your perspective what challenges you are facing.
We roll up our sleeves. We don’t simply offer recommendations for improvements without getting into the mix ourselves to see with our own eyes how your process is working. We understand that your frontline staff is a valuable resource, so we leverage their experience and expertise throughout the change process. We talk to your workers and look at the job through their eyes. We combine that with fact-based observations, our expertise and an assessment of where opportunities exist for improvement. In that way, we get buy-in from the frontlines. To read more about how crucial frontline buy-in is to the process, read our blog, Why Getting Buy-in from Frontline Employees is Key.
We get to work. We craft a collaborative approach to find greater efficiency, streamlined processes and the ability to do more with less.
That’s our simple, go-to business model. We implement collaborative recommendations and then transfer the knowledge back to your staff. This enables the organization to continue the improvements we started together.
COVID-based changes to the process
You can’t stay in business for a half-century without experiencing some changes along the way, and 2020 was a year in which most businesses found themselves on the receiving end of process changes, large and small. We were no exception. COVID safety protocols required us to pivot on a dime and alter our process, which had previously been hands-on, on-site. Now, we’re working with a hybrid model involving remote and onsite work.
During the remote phase, we gather information, talk to our clients and listen to their concerns and issues. Onsite, we work with our clients, staggering our teams’ presence at their facilities. They may also stagger their employees who work onsite with us. That’s an important part of the process — a hidden opportunity for efficiency we found within our own methodology. By staggering our team at your site, we’re prepared for the unlikely event that a team member falls ill. If it happens, it won’t shut down the whole operation because we’ll have another team member to step in.
At USCCG, we pride ourselves in finding hidden opportunities for efficiencies that will help smooth out bottlenecks and allow our customers to meet growing demand with their current assets. Please contact us if you’d like to find out more.
To learn more, download our eBook, Challenges for the Metals Industry: How USC Consulting Group Can Help
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What is your vision for a post-COVID future for your company?
Our country and the world are going to come out of this pandemic, ideally sooner rather than later. What then? Companies are naturally going to be focused on growth, not only to make up for lost time, productivity and revenue, but to chart the course for future success. Hiring more staff, especially if you’ve had COVID-related layoffs, may well be part of your growth strategy. But growth in a post-COVID era is also going to be about focusing on operations efficiency and continuous improvement. Even more than hiring, efficiency and continuous improvement will be crucial to what comes next.
Continuous improvement matters now
At USC Consulting Group, we’re committed to a continuous improvement mindset. We recommend it to our clients and we put it into practice every day in the work that we do for them. What does it mean, exactly? It means not resting on our laurels. Instead, we use those “laurels” as rungs on a ladder. We build upon our successes to reach for the next level. Higher, better, stronger, more efficient, it’s what we’re striving for all the time. We take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t, and learn from it. It’s about doing it better, every time, no matter what “it” is.
Here are some ways to incorporate continuous improvement:
- Become more people-focused. You know what they say about having no “I” in “Team.”
- Prioritize communication. Employees need to be clear on the strategy and goals, and know the playbook to get there.
- Embrace the unending journey. You’ve never reached the end of continuous improvement. You need to build on successes and strive to reach higher each time.
- Look at processes with a critical eye. Being honest about what works and what doesn’t is key.
- Use available tools. Resource capacity planning and operational performance reviews can ramp up your process and provide direction for further investments.
- Be open. There is always room for improvement, and being open to it is crucial.
It matters in a post-COVID world because many companies can’t and shouldn’t go back to business as usual. All of us have learned lessons from keeping our heads above water during this pandemic. Those lessons can help us improve, coming out of it stronger than before.
React, Reassess, Rebound
This pandemic has put companies through three distinct phases. Deloitte calls it Respond, Recover and Thrive. We see it a little differently. We’d call it React, Reassess, Rebound.
Back in April 2020, COVID threw all of us into the deep end of the pool. Companies had to react to this sudden, new reality and pivot on a dime just to keep the doors open. People who could work at home did, in greater numbers than ever before. For manufacturers, it meant immediately coming up with new protocols and procedures in order to keep their people safe on the shop floor while they got the job done.
This new reality wasn’t just affecting our clients. We had to react and pivot on a dime, too, changing our proven processes to help our clients quickly.
[For more on this, download our free eBook, “Times Have Changed. USC Consulting Group Can Help You Adapt.“]
Reassess: Finding efficiencies
During the pandemic, many of our clients came to us to help them with one of the things we do best — finding hidden opportunities for efficiency in their processes and procedures using their current assets. Our methodology involves listening, looking at your operating system and procedures, and finding opportunities that you don’t see. Nine times out of ten, we find those opportunities for efficiency by looking at issues that are generally accepted as “just the way things are.”
It’s about reassessing established, longstanding processes and procedures and questioning whether or not they’re the best way forward. More often than not, there’s a better, more efficient, streamlined way of getting the job done.
Rebound: It’s about growth
Here’s where it gets interesting, and where continuous improvement comes in. Dare we suggest that something positive can come from the new COVID protocols and procedures we’ve all had to implement? We can all learn from what we had to endure in 2020. Has your company found new efficiencies? Have you streamlined ways to get the job done? Have you figured out how to do more with less? We’ve helped our clients do all of those things through this pandemic. When we come out of this COVID era, which will go down in the history books as one of the most difficult trials our country has been through, there’s no reason to go back to business as usual. Using the continuous improvement mindset, it’s time to go forward, building on what we’ve learned. That’s the key to growth in a post-COVID world.
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