Tag: manufacturing benchmarking

Competitive Landscape Analysis

Critical Challenges facing small manufacturing companies in the U.S.

The U.S. manufacturing industry is facing unprecedented challenges. The sector stands at a critical point in its long history wherein the future of the big and small manufacturing companies will largely depend on how industry leaders view and react to the changing landscape. That being said, small manufacturers in particular face a fair number of challenges, including competition from large domestic businesses in the U.S. as well as from other global players. As the technological, demographic, and economic climate shifts, small manufacturing companies must innovate themselves in order to stay competitive. Let’s take a look at some of the issues facing small manufacturing companies through the lens of industry experts at Infiniti Research.

Challenges faced by small manufacturing companies

small manufacturing companiesCompetition from foreign companies

Small manufacturing companies in the U.S. are currently facing steady competition from several players around the globe. The competitive pressure is particularly high from Asian countries such as China where similar products can be produced for a fraction of the price it would cost to produce similar products in America. The low labor costs in countries like China enables manufacturers to produce and sell at extremely low prices, posing severe challenges for small manufacturing companies in the U.S.

Despite recurring challenges, small manufacturing companies can leverage advanced business intelligence solutions to face these challenges head-on and continue their upward momentum without any disruption. Request a free proposal to know more.

Regulations and compliance issues

One of the major roadblocks for U.S. based small manufacturing companies to compete with their offshore counterparts in terms of price is the labor costs and stringent government regulations. The U.S. is also constantly changing their regulatory and compliance policies that can force small manufacturing companies to make adjustments, causing them to spend even more on monitoring compliance.

Increasing quality of offshore manufacturing

A decade or two ago, the foreign quality of production was poor when compared to the U.S. However, now not only are the products manufactured outside the U.S. cheaper but over the years the quality of these products has also risen drastically. This has resulted in intense competition for small manufacturing companies. In order to survive such growing manufacturing industry challenges, companies in the manufacturing industry, especially small manufacturers must focus on improving their quality of production while maintaining their costs.

Get in touch with our industry experts to know how small manufacturing companies can tackle critical manufacturing challenges, turn them into opportunities, and eventually grow the business.

Shortage of skilled labor

Skilled workforce is highly essential in the manufacturing industry to complete various specialized tasks ranging from welding to programming automation systems. There has been a decline in the number of people enrolling for such skilled courses in universities over the past couple of years. To add on to this dilemma, a major portion of the existing workforce in the U.S. manufacturing industry are almost on the verge of retirement.  Consequently, there is a shortage of skilled workforce across large and small manufacturing companies. Manufacturers now need to identify new ways to incentivize and attract talent into the industry.

Competition from on-shoring

Apart from competing with offshore firms, small manufacturing companies are now also facing increased competition due to the growing trend of on-shoring. Foreign companies that primarily cater to U.S. customers are finding it more cost effective to manufacture in the states because of the cost of storage, transportation, and tariffs. Such companies act as an extra competition in the already difficult market, especially for small manufacturing companies.

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contract manufacturing

Why are Top manufacturers moving to Contract Manufacturing?

What is contract manufacturing?

Contract manufacturing is often used interchangeably with the term ‘outsourcing.’ outsourcing is the technique of transferring portions of work to outside sources and suppliers, instead of undertaking the entire work within the company, resulting in lower costs and expenses. Contract manufacturing is a form of outsourcing where a manufacturer enters into a formal agreement with another manufacturer (contract manufacturing organization) to produce parts, products, or components, which the former will then use in its own manufacturing process, to complete its own product. They then undertake their own marketing, sales and distribution, and customer service to bring the final product to the end-users or consumers. In some cases, contract manufacturers may also be specialized organizations that provide contract manufacturing services to more than one business. 

Learn how top manufacturers around the globe are enhancing their operations. Request a free brochure to know how our solutions can help your business get there.

Different types of contract manufacturing

The different forms of contract manufacturing vary based on nature and operations involved in a business. Some of the most common forms of contract manufacturing agreement includes:

Production of the entire product

As the name clearly suggests, this involves contract manufacturing organizations building the entire product for a company under the brand name or label of the latter. This type of contract manufacturing is also called as ‘private label manufacturing’.

Production of parts or components

In this type of contract manufacturing, companies depend on a contract manufacturing organization to produce parts or components that will be incorporated into the final product of the company. For instance, a computer hardware manufacturer can use contract manufacturing for producing smaller computer parts and components, which is then assembled into their final product.

Hiring service or labor force

This involves subcontract for labor. If a business does not possess enough manpower in their company to carry out production processes smoothly and quickly, then they can outsource labor. Take the example of big multinational companies in the US who set up their manufacturing unit in Asian countries and subcontract their labor forces to Asian human resource companies. The key reasons why companies adopt this form of manufacturing is the specialized skills that these labor forces have and the comparatively cheaper cost of labor when compared to their home countries.

Using manufacturing equipment or facility

Companies that do not have the facility or the equipment to manufacture can transact with a contract manufacturer for the use of their facility. This saves the company capital investment needed to set up a manufacturing unit.

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Why do top manufacturers favor contract manufacturing?

The decision to make or buy a product/ parts of a product can often prove to be a tough decision for companies. They often undertake feasibility studies for the management to gain a better understanding of what would be more beneficial for them. One of the key benefits that companies can derive from contract manufacturing is the reduction in cost and expenditure. But this is not the only reason companies opt to get into agreements with contract manufacturing organizations. Some of the other reasons include:

  • Improved allocation of resources
  • Greater focus on core business functions
  • Increased innovation and enhanced product quality
  • Reduction in manufacturing time
  • Streamlined business relationships

 

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Financial risk analysis

5 Smart Manufacturing Opportunities that Manufacturers Must Grab

Manufacturing is and will continue to be a critical force in both advanced and developing economies. However, the global manufacturing sector has undergone a tumultuous decade. From large developing economies leaping into the first tier of manufacturing nations, a severe recession choking off demand, to manufacturing employment falling at an accelerated rate in advanced economies. The good news here is that the manufacturing industry is all ready to be re-imagined, reinvented, and reborn. Here are five incredibly potent opportunities in manufacturing that manufacturers have to pounce upon if they wish to stay competitive through smarter manufacturing:

Smart manufacturing opportunities in manufacturing

Manufacturing intelligence

Intelligence in the manufacturing industry must be carefully planned, implemented, managed and invested in. This generally requires a completely new view and perspective regarding what is traditionally looked Get More Infoat as strictly a mechanical or procedural challenge. This includes advanced data collection from sensors and actuators, immediate knowledge of inventory, assets, production condition; and increased process, productivity, and cost granularity.

Predictive analytics

Manufacturing intelligence must be used by companies in the manufacturing industry in such a way that it will predict the future so that decisions and actions are taken before problems emerge, before the occurrence of risk, and before opportunities are wasted. This includes enabling predictive technologies, embedded analytics, and rapid response capabilities.

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Quality management

Quality management is the way ahead for how players in the manufacturing industry can achieve nearly zero waste, zero incidents, and zero emissions. The new improvements in quality will develop from factors including information visibility, connectivity, and analytics.

Manufacturing network monitoring

The ability to see and act on your entire network enables companies in the manufacturing industry to predict problems, quickly deploy corrective actions (such as repairs), and keep the entire network humming. This results in improved operational decisions; enhanced remote visibility; and the lowest cost of production possible.

Visibility and visualization

Unless information helps businesses to understand and act, it becomes practically meaningless. It is necessary to have a holistic, dynamic view of the company’s operations in real-time, and visualize people, systems, assets, and inventories as they make their way through a complex supply chain. Manufacturers can see multiple factories in a single view, utilize advanced manufacturing dashboards; and optimize their capacity across the entire enterprise using new instrumentation, networks, and control rooms.


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Market Assessment

5 Principles of Lean Manufacturing – Simplified

Lean manufacturing is the most trending buzzword in the manufacturing industry which is aimed at efficient use of resources to generate high-quality products. Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement philosophy which was conceptualized by Kaizen or Toyota Production System. It is the same concept that helped Toyota to compete with the US car industry post-WWII period. The concept seeks to implement business processes that deliver high-quality results while maintaining worker safety and morale and also lowering cost and shortening lead times. Lean manufacturing can significantly improve the efficiency of the manufacturing industry and thereby reduce the production cost. Here are five principles of lean manufacturing that will help the manufacturing industry implementRequest Free Proposal lean techniques.

Identify value

Value of the product always refers to customer’s need for a specific product. For a long time, companies have been producing goods on the basis of what they think is the best, losing vision of customers being the end-user. As a result, if you want to design the best product, it should always start with finding ways to determine what customers actually want in the first place. They need to understand the customer needs in terms of product functionality, ease of use, and pricing. Players in the manufacturing industry can use tools and techniques such as brainstorming, market gaps identification, consumer research, and quality function deployment to identify various needs of the customers. Subsequently, companies should only engage in activities that improve the value of their product to the customers.

Map the value stream

After assessing what value the customers’ want, the next step is to map the value stream. Companies will have to map all the steps and processes involved in converting raw material into the finished product. In order to abide by the principles of lean management, companies should find the most suitable raw material and engage in adding value to each step and dissolve processes that don’t add value. To simplify things, managers can start out by drawing each step on a page as a map depicting the flow of materials and products through the process.

Create inventory flow

After identifying and removing waste from the value stream, it is important to ensure smooth flow of operations without any delays, interruptions, or bottlenecks. These value-creating steps should occur in tight sequences to ensure a smooth flow till the final product delivery to the customers. Employees must get rid of silo thinking and put in cross-functional efforts across all departments. Cross-functional efforts ensure smooth flow of operations even when employees are reshuffled across departments.

Establish value pull

With improved inventory flow, time to market can be drastically improved. This lean manufacturing principle requires players in the manufacturing industry to set out ways which make customers demand the product rather than pushing the product to them. Simply put, if the product was not designed to suit the customer’s needs, then companies will have a hard time persuading the customer to purchase the products. This saves company time and money as products doesn’t need to be created in advance or material stockpiled.

Seek perfection

Achieving perfection is the ultimate goal of the lean manufacturing principle. Manufacturers should always focus on perfecting their products by attaining perfection in each value creation steps and removing waste. Businesses should strive to deliver the product within the designated time and employ continuous improvement tools like Kaizen to achieve perfection.

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Top Trends in the Manufacturing Industry: Prediction 2018

The manufacturing industry is under immense pressure to innovate and bring down the costs rapidly. The rapidly rising rate of technological advancements and increasing product penetration in the emerging markets have raised the bar for the manufacturing industry. At present, the manufacturing industry has been aggressively pursuing digital transformation to improve process efficiency and empower innovation. According to a 2015 World Bank report, the value added in the economy by the manufacturing industry in China is anticipated to be around IR_Brochure$3,250,412 million, which is the highest in the world. It is also one of the biggest employers in the world, creating millions of jobs in the economy.

Top trends in the manufacturing industry

Leveraging digital platforms

The rising consumer expectations and advent of connected devices and platforms are the most significant drivers of digitization in the manufacturing sector. In order to ensure that the right products are manufactured at the right price and gets delivered to the right people, the industry has been using advanced digital technologies such as IoT, AI, machine learning, robotics, and data analytics. These digital technologies are crucial to optimize the enterprise value chain and supply chain.

IT and value chain

A vast majority of the companies are refraining from embracing digital technology due to substantial setup costs associated with it. However, companies have started to realize that the benefits far outweigh the costs. IT departments of the organization are making efforts to ensure that their value chain process is in alignment to their business strategy. Such steps will help release 10% to 20% of the total IT applications costs. It has been evident that early adoption of digital technologies pays up its initial costs by increased operational efficiency and productivity boosts.

Legacy applications

Legacy applications mostly have a negative connotation regarding being an outdated and inefficient system. However, this is not always the case as manufacturers processes, business data, and digital histories all exist within the legacy system. Replacing legacy system with newer technologies may not always facilitate smooth data and system transition. Most manufacturing companies are still relying on legacy systems; whereas, others are looking to phase out legacy applications to enable digitization slowly.

Smart manufacturing

The concept of smart manufacturing has gained a lot of attention in recent times, and many players in the manufacturing industries have introduced this concept in their plants and production zones. However, the majority of them are struggling to implement fully scaled smart manufacturing concepts. Industrial IoT has helped the manufacturing industry to implement fully scaled smart manufacturing concepts. Manufacturers are prioritizing predictive maintenance and energy management in the initial phases and are looking to implement more complicated AI-oriented applications. Such technologies will improve product quality, lower machine downtime, and save labor costs.

Pricing models

Outcome-based pricing has been popularized recently by the medical devices and pharmaceutical companies. However, in the manufacturing industry, the suppliers are still not ready to adopt such pricing models because of which buyers usually have to outlay huge budgets for equipment acquisition. The things look to remain the same in 2018 as well, owing to the fact that GE has not seen growth in its market share or stock price despite using such pricing models for their connected products. It is expected that companies in the manufacturing industry will continually examine the feasibility of this pricing model and practice it on a smaller scale.

 

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Industry Benchmarking Assists a Renowned Material Handling Equipment Manufacturer Devise Effective Marketing Campaigns

Currently, with the manufacturing industry depending on effective logistic operations, organizations in the manufacturing sector have started relying on material handling products to deliver smooth warehouse and logistics experience. Also, with the advent of automation in the manufacturing space, key players in the manufacturing sector are advocating the need for better material handling equipment to effectively manage their inventory levels. Furthermore, manually operating processes can help manufacturing industries to consolidate and deliver products in an agile and seamless manner; thereby, improving the customer experience. Also, with the availability of attractive opportunities in the manufacturing space, major companies are looking for promising solutions such as industry benchmarks to improve performance and retain their respective position in the market.IR_Brochure

Infiniti’s industry benchmarks offer reliable, responsible, and efficient solutions to the companies in the manufacturing space, which help them lower labor costs and improve the product quality. The solution offered by Infiniti can further help the client gain marginal profits and increase their overall sales performance. Also, with the help of industry benchmarks, manufacturers can devise best practices to improve performance in different departments.

The Business Challenge

In today’s competitive environment, it becomes crucial for stakeholders to know the major differentiators in the material handling equipment space. A renowned material handling equipment manufacturer with a considerable number of manufacturing units spread across the globe was facing predicaments improving their current business process and adopting innovative ideas from players to create better business models. Furthermore, the client wanted to devise effective marketing campaigns to investigate the benefits of a product and improve its operational efficiency. Also, the client wanted to leverage the use of promising solutions, such as industry benchmarks, to make improvements into various areas of the company.

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Our Approach

To identify the competitors and improve their training methods, the client approached Infiniti’s industry benchmark experts. With expertise in offering services for numerous clients from the manufacturing space, Infiniti’s experts carried out an extensive research comprising interviews and discussions with leading stakeholders in the material handling equipment space. Furthermore, to understand new distribution channels, the analysts also collated necessary information from various proprietary sources such as paid industry databases, company presentations, and industry forums in the material handling equipment space.

Industry Benchmarks Solution Benefits:

  • Obtained information on the relevant technologies in the market; thereby, lowering the labor costs
  • Improved the product quality and determined the competitor’s products list
  • Improved the operations and services and further boosted the sales and profits
  • Emulated the best practices to improve the performance of the internal departments
  • Effectively pinpoint their shortcomings and identified the problem areas
  • Compared competitive performance and facilitated robust comparison

Benefits of Our Integrated Approach

With the help Infiniti’s industry benchmarks, the client was able to improve their overall performance in terms of sales and product lines. The engagement helped the client comparatively curtail the production costs, the marketing expenditures, and the expense related to R&D. Moreover, through this effective engagement, the client was able to measure and manage performance for the betterment of their customer experiences.

A must-read case study for strategy experts and decision makers looking to develop an understanding of the material handling equipment space.
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Manufacturing Industry and its Outlook – Vision 2020

The manufacturing industry is still one of the largest contributors to the world economy despite the phenomenal growth of the services sector. Even though the manufacturing industry is nearing its saturation point, the industry hasn’t stopped growing and innovating. Several innovations such as automation, robotics, lean manufacturing, analytics, and outsourcing have been driving the growth of this sector. Furthermore, manufacturing industries are also looking at new avenues, product innovations, and strategic changes to remain competitive.

Developing nations largely depend on the manufacturing industry to boost their GDP. Here are some of the innovations and trends in the manufacturing industry which will define its future:

Manufacturing Industry and its Outlook – Vision 2020

Breakthrough in Material Science

Manufacturers are looking at material sciences to create products that are far superior to the existing ones. Materials such as graphene, carbon fibre, nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, and vantablack have extreme physical properties, which help in the production of futuristic products. Carbon fibres are increasingly used in the aerospace industry because of its exceedingly high strength to weight ratio. The exorbitant cost of such materials has hindered its application for mass production. However, these materials will eventually find its way inside consumer applications with the advent of newer materials and economies of scale in the existing ones.

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Brochure CTAPersonalization and Customization

For long, manufacturers have been emphasizing on reducing the cost using large scale production, resulting in fewer product choices to the customers. But the needs and wants of the customers have been growing to the point that they demand personalization and customization. Digital technologies have made it possible to scale up the level of personalization and customization and keep the costs low. Intelligent use of technologies such as 3D printers has also driven the level of customization along with smart product modifications like IKEA. The line between consumers and creators is blurring due to the advent of DIY platforms, product collaboration programs, crowd funding and ideation platform.

Smart Products

Modern products are increasingly capable of operating tasks and analyzing information with little human inputs. For most, smart products like smartphone, smartwatch, fitness trackers have been an everyday part of life. With the use of multiple sensors, connectivity, and electronics, previously analog tasks and processes could be simplified. Manufacturers have realized the potential of smart products and see it not only as a product but as a platform to create an ecosystem which allows for customization. This platform allows for a lucrative aftermarket which provides additional revenue streams through add-ons.

Big Data Analytics and Automation

Industrial control systems have been generating a vast amount of data for a long time which wasn’t put to best use. With the dramatic increase in computing power, rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), and advancement in machine learning algorithms, manufacturers can now analyze an enormous amount of data to enhance operations, resolve operational issues, improve production efficiency, and reduce wastages. The manufacturing industry is depending on big data analytics to enable automation. In a manufacturing plant, data collected from multiple sensors and control systems can be automatically fed to execute the production process.

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Transport and logistics

Competitive Benchmarking Study on Alternator Manufacturers

Business Challenge
A leading player in power equipment manufacturing wanted Infiniti Research to conduct a competitive intelligence and benchmarking study on its major competitors.
Situation
The client wanted to evaluate and benchmark against its major competitors, to assess the future market potential for its high voltage submarine power cables, and was looking for strategic consulting on how to reformulate its business strategies for higher growth.
Approach
We conducted a comprehensive primary and secondary research for benchmarking against top five competitors, to evaluate their major pipeline and reference projects, pricing models, cost analysis, manufacturing facilities, key customers and geographies.
Impact
Based on our insights, the client gained detailed insights on the demographics and competitive environment of the alternator market in Latin America. It also gained an understanding of the market attractiveness of its product offerings.
Market Assessment

Benchmarking Study on Air Compressor Business for Compression Solutions Provider

Business Challenge
A leading compression solutions provider wanted to understand how a rapidly growing new competitor was able to provide high-quality air compressors at lower costs.
Situation
The client was concerned by a rapidly growing competitor and its high-quality air compressor products. It wanted to trace the competitor’s sourcing value chain and manufacturing capabilities to understand the difference in costs and quality.
Approach
We carried out an extensive analysis of the competitor’s ecosystem to understand its supply chain and sourcing patterns, manufacturing sites, its capacity and technology deployment and to identify the major differentiators in the competitor’s value chain.
Impact
The client was able to identify the areas where it was incurring excess costs and lagging in capacity and technology utilization. It also identified alternative supply sources and developed strategies to overhaul its manufacturing process and beat the competition.
Answers to the questions

Manufacturing and R&D Spend Benchmarking Study on Welding Robots Manufacturers in North America

Business Challenge
A US based welding robots manufacturer wanted to gain insights on the manufacturing and R&D spend levels of key competitors in North America.
Situation
The key objective of this study was to gain insights on the manufacturing and R&D spend of five competitors in North America, including a breakup of the expenditure for direct and indirect categories.
Approach
We identified the market stakeholders with knowledge abut the competitors’ business landscape and conducted interviews with them through a comprehensive qualitative questionnaire covering all key aspects of the client requirements to gather insightful information.
Impact
The client was able to distinguish the major differences between its manufacturing and R&D strategies with those of its competitors and identify the major improvement areas for itself, enabling it to take corrective actions.