There is no doubt that the energy part manufacturing industry is under a new reality challenged by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and, most recently, the Ukraine-Russia crisis. For sure, both events have stressed the daily routine of numberless businesses across the globe. However, repercussions, such as massive supply disruptions and escalated commodity prices, hit the manufacturer sector more acutely in particular operative areas, causing delays in production and deliveries, throughput reduction, and inventory shortage. So, how do you beat these odds? I got some ideas on the matter worth exchanging. Hopefully, they will help you move onward and forward. The time is here. Let’s pick up momentum and grow above it, shall we?
Six Strategies to Overcome the Current Challenges in Energy Part Manufacturing
Before starting, I should mention that my main goal lies in helping you seize the areas with room for improvement inside your enterprise. For that reason, I’m showing broad proposals that cover different topics. Maybe spiking traditional ways will work for you best. Or perhaps you need to bring in new manufacturing technologies to regain course. There are great prospects to think about and try on. So, without further dues, let’s jump in with the details.
1. Bypass Supply Holes with an Aggressive New Approach
Challenging times call for innovative measures to persevere with your goals. Take advantage of the situation! Review and bump your strategies to meet your company’s must-haves to stay afloat and comply with your clients’ demands. Here’s where you want to start your journey:
- Create an emergency plan and tailor it to overcome existing supply chain disruptions;
- Identify your critical suppliers. Those are the ones demanding tighter monitoring from your side;
- Perform risk management analyses. They are always good resorts to identifying hidden vulnerabilities;
- Diversify your supply base. Be open to all possibilities. Are closer suppliers a better fit for the company at the moment? Can the process handle other feedstock without compromising quality and client satisfaction? These are the types of questions you should ask to enlarge (conveniently) your supplier list;
- Have backup suppliers. If a business falls through, you can restart the process without losing extra time;
- Enlist professional assistance before things get out of hand. Transferring risks to an experienced third party might be just what you need. Bringing in an expert will let you focus on your core activities while they make sure everything is delivered on time;
- Build supply chain partnerships of value. A potential strategy that can protect the company during scarce times. Just be reminded that alliances should be acknowledging, collaborative, and representative of win-win opportunities for both sides.
Integrate flexibility into your solutions. The more alternatives you can be open to, the greater the chances are of accomplishing the targets. Also, don’t forget to align the contracting and contract management procedures accordingly to the new approach. Both are the backbone of a healthy supply chain performance.
2. Strengthen Your Enterprise Resource Planning Protocols
Counting on reliable ERP software to account for all company transactions is a big deal for today’s manufacturers. The benefits are just too many to pass up. If your company is still holding on to a legacy system that doesn’t blend in with current tech and is apron to carry out mistakes, make this situation your golden ticket to deploy a new system. Think about it! You can automate workflows and standardize business processes like never before. Let’s make a more critical argument of why it is a good investment that will pay off dividends.
Part manufacturers strive to optimize resources without compromising quality and their hard-earned reputation. The strategies always center around making production costs and supply chain spending as low as possible. By modernizing the ERP software, companies can achieve just that! All they have to do is grasp these features the system offers:
- Integration and embedment of intelligence within manufacturing processes. Hence, facilitating data acquisition from a single source of real-time information;
- Enhanced coordination among teams to bridge gaps between planning, production, and supply chain;
- Asset digitization for tighter tracking and monitoring, better process visualization, and agile decision-making;
- Assured transparency and accountability at every level. This will bring simplicity to complex tasks, such as keeping tabs on the components and materials in purchasing and inventory management;
- 24/7 visibility into business processes. Teams can adapt better to changing market conditions and requirements and estimate, plan, and respond more rapidly.
Here’s a relevant case study on how upgrading a legacy ERP system brought the Tomago Aluminum Company more efficiency in their operations.
3. Get On with Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing (AM) has already earned its spot as a reliable tech that strengthens the value chain of companies servicing the healthcare and automotive sectors. The energy industry can capitalize just as much on its offerings. And then block issues related to supply disruptions, utility consumption, and greenhouse emissions, for the most part.
Since switching to AM, in its comprehensive AM overview, Siemens Energy credits the technology for accomplishing whopping indicators such as a 75% reduction in development time and using 65% fewer resources in the production process. The results speak for themselves. Through AM, they revolutionized the manufacturing of spare parts for the compressor, combustion system, and turbine component of gas turbines. Recently, the company wowed us all again by completing a whole gas turbine blade in Alloy 247.
I know that investing in AM implies a financial and human commitment that comes with risks of its own. So, if you ponder whether or not adopting this new technology is the next right step for your company, contact Verdusco Consulting! We have the team, expertise, and resources to help you reach the best decision for your business.
For more inspiration on how AM can turn your operations, check out this video testimony of Texan precision machining company Knust-Godwin. They use AM to manufacture instrumentation and drilling products for the O&G industry.
4. Welcome Automation Solutions that You Give the Flexibility to Cope with a Changing Market
The energy manufacturing sector is one of the most regulated industries in the world. To meet and excel these tight regulations, engineers have to design and embed processes of astounding precision. One of the best resources out there to match and comply with such well-defined specs is automation. A solution to streamline operations and increase efficiency, safety, and throughput while reducing errors and costs.
Modern-day automation solutions align with industry 4.0. This means that operators can now obtain process insights and analytics from soft sensors located in the field and use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to run and predict future scenarios, bottlenecks, and market changes. By gaining this critical knowledge, teams feel empowered to develop new plans and strategies that minimize the negative implications ahead (if any). Moreover, they unlock the capability to understand their manufacturing process like never before, gaining confidence and back up to make informed decisions that reduce downtime and lean towards a predictive maintenance approach.
Verdusco Consulting can work with you in this area. We’ll assess your automation needs and help you solve complex operational issues by identifying root causes and designing bespoke solutions. Do you have something in mind? A flexible automation system or a programmable one? Do you want to be able to operate remotely? Count us in to find the answers.
5. Assess the Pros & Cons of Switching to Lights-Out Manufacturing
Nowadays, industries are leaning toward “smart manufacturing,” a production approach known to integrate and balance the human-machine interactions throughout the process. However, lights-out manufacturing can be an escape room for some to spare expenses in the utility category.
Lights-out manufacturing is a fully autonomous production process where human interaction is not required. Hence, lighting, cooling, and heating sources are shut off during operations. The process takes place in a “dark factory.” Dark factories are facilities that come equipped with end-to-end automation solutions built to restrict human presence to tasks such as machine inspection, maintenance, repairs, and overall plant overview. As you can see, there’s zero process involvement.
There are positives and negatives to lights-out manufacturing. I recommend you to read this article by Anish Devasia from Control Automation magazine. It does a terrific job contextualizing this production method, and disclosing the pros and cons of moving forward with it.
6. Bring Sustainability into the Manufacturing Process
Decarbonization is one of the pressing issues the industrial sector must tackle in the next twenty to thirty years. The requirement opens energy part manufacturers to an unprecedented opportunity for repurposing their business to move it along with the new market trends and demands.
When producers bridge environmental responsibility and sustainable manufacturing, they realize that enhancing processes toward green practices can offer measurable benefits regarding resilience, profitability, competitiveness, and brand image.
Before introducing changes, engineers often rely on tools like a Life Cycle Assessment study to support process upgrades. Their proposal can range anywhere from a revamp to a retrofit. Most improvements often center around energy recovery, water reuse, and fluid (additive, lubricants, coolers) optimization.
The E3 Program can be a great starting point for meeting allies, such as EPA and DOE, and setting a master plan. Advantage Industrial Manufacturing’s case study is a neat reference to see what other manufacturers have accomplished in the field. AIM managed to reduce utility costs, decrease waste and CO2 emissions, and increase sales. All of that while also creating new jobs. Awesome!
The strategies addressed offer different levels of complexities, scalability, and capital investment. Hope they give you fresh ideas to transform your processes according to short-, mid-, and long-term plans and cope with current and upcoming challenges.
If you would like to expand on this information through consulting or assistance, Verdusco Consulting is here for you! We have a great team that can take your processes and business to the highest level. Reach us at:
- Email: Raul@VerduscoConsulting.com;
- Phone number: 248-622-2850.
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