What started as a slow turnaround in manufacturing has lately started to look more like a full-fledged revival. July marked the 14th straight month of expansion for the sector, and the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index reached its highest level in over three years.
Industry analysts have offered a number of explanations for this growth: more manufacturing jobs are returning to the U.S. from China in a process that has been dubbed “re-shoring;” domestic energy production, particularly in areas such as shale, continues to grow steadily; businesses have become more lean and efficient in response to unpredictable market conditions.
Beyond the particular causes, however, there is only one thing that matters to manufacturing businesses: the time is ripe for growth and expansion. The question is, how can companies position themselves to take maximum advantage?
A recent article from IMPO on the 11 questions that manufacturers should ask before partnering with another company provides a key part of the answer. Their first three questions, in particular, highlight a single, critical theme that will help manufacturing companies attract more business: manufacturing organization's efficiency.
+ “Is the contract manufacturer operating with an open book?”
Transparency is integral to trust, which is the foundation of any business arrangement. A company that invests proper time and effort into data tracking and analysis will therefore be at a large advantage when it comes to landing new contracts and partnerships.
Elite manufacturers track asset data using maintenance management software because it is the most accurate and reliable way to get a true handle on equipment ROI, equipment downtime, operational efficiency, etc. Detailed reports can be run on these metrics and shared with prospective clients and vendors, providing insight into the company’s operations.
This is why CMMS software are a prerequisite for my many large manufacturing contracts and partnerships. Companies need assurance that the production processes of their contractors and partners conform to independent standards. CMMS systems provide the insight necessary to provide that assurance, this help increase manufacturing efficiency.
+ “Does the contract manufacturer have a quality program?”
Compliance with quality management standards, such as ISO 9001:2008, is a central requirement in many manufacturing contracts and partnerships. These demands underscore the need for transparency and quality assurance raised in the previous question.
ISO certification demands a high level of organization and process control. Since the performance of a company’s assets relates directly to the overall quality and manufacturing efficiency of its output, it makes sense that their proper care should rank among the highest priorities.
This is another reason why leading manufacturers utilize full-featured maintenance management systems like ManagerPlus to organize and streamline their operations. Meeting ISO 9001:2008 criteria such as implementing a process approach, achieving continual improvement, and establishing a factual approach to decision making are all greatly aided by the use of maintenance management systems.
The easier it is for a company to maintain compliance with these standards, the better positioned they’ll be to capture new business. So when a company follows IMPO's advice and asks the contract manufacturer to, "show you records demonstrating their program’s ability to provide accurate documentation, high-level reports and detailed test data,” that information will be readily at hand.
+ “Is the contract manufacturer’s facility as organized as your plant?”
Here, again, the issue of organization is raised. According to IMPO, “The organization of a contract manufacturer’s facility speaks volumes about how seriously they take quality control.”
In particular, they stress that a “clean, well-lit and well-organized facility also exemplifies the contract manufacturer’s capacity to complete work in a safe, professional manner.”
Regardless of whether a manufacturer is trying to attract new business or partner with another manufacturer, the quality of its facilities is likely to come under scrutiny. This is why it is critical that businesses use the powerful organizational tools offered by maintenance management systems to keep their operations in optimum condition.
Streamlining workflow by automating schedules, adding mobile functionality, and centralizing data, enables companies to easily manage complex maintenance operations and reduce turnaround time. The result is better-functioning facilities and equipment, which will make the right impression with prospective clients and partners.
When it comes to improving organization and increasing productivity in manufacturing, there may be a lot of questions, but the answers can be simple if a company simply implements a proper maintenance management solution.