The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and, most recently, the Ukraine-Russia crisis have had a significant impact on the energy manufacturing industry’s new reality. Though both events have stressed countless businesses across the globe, repercussions, such as massive supply disruptions and escalated commodity prices, hit the energy manufacturing sector more acutely. Particularly in the operative areas, causing delays in production and deliveries, throughput reductions, and inventory shortages.
I have thought on the matter and written down these ideas worth exchanging. They will help you move forward. The time is here.
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. That means you may need to upgrade workflows or bring in new manufacturing technologies to regain your course.
So, without further ado, let’s jump in with the six strategies you can follow to boost resilience and beat pressing challenges, such as supply chain delays and inflation.
1. Bypass supply holes with an aggressive new approach tailored to the current scenarios
Challenging times call for innovative measures to persevere with your goals. 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 tools for 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 feedstocks without compromising quality or client satisfaction? These are the types of questions you should ask to conveniently expand 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 your chances of accomplishing your targets. Also, don’t forget to align the contracting and contract management procedures according to the new approach. Both are the backbone of a healthy supply chain.
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 technology and is prone to mistakes, make this situation your golden ticket to deploying a new system. Think about it! You can automate workflows and standardize business processes like never before. Let’s make a more critical argument for why it is a good investment that will pay off dividends.
Manufacturers strive to optimize resources without compromising quality or their hard-earned reputation. The strategies always center around making production costs and supply chain spending as low as possible. By modernizing 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 so that teams can adapt better to changing market conditions. They will accurately assess requirements from a trusted source to make estimates and response plans 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 technology 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, Siemens Energy has achieved whopping indicators such as a 75% decrease in development time and a 65% reduction in production process resources. These results speak for themselves. Through AM, they revolutionized the manufacturing of spare parts for compressors, combustion systems, and turbine components for gas turbines. Recently, the company wowed us all again by completing a whole gas turbine blade in Alloy 247 with AM. You can find more details about Siemens Energy’s success in AM by reading this profile.
Knust-Godwin, a Texan precision machining company that fabricates instrumentation and drilling products for the O&G industry, has also had an impressive turn in their operations thanks to AM. Check out this video testimony to learn how they made it possible.
I know that investing in AM implies a financial and human commitment that comes with its own risks. 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.
4. Welcome automation solutions that give you flexibility to cope with a changing market
The energy manufacturing sector is one of the most regulated industries in the world. To meet and exceed the tight standards, engineers have to design and embed processes with astounding precision.
The best resource out there to match and comply with such well-defined specs is automation, the one engineering discipline that industries can trust to streamline operations and increase efficiency, reliability, safety, and throughput while reducing errors and costs.
Modern-day automation solutions align with Industry 4.0. That means the manufacturers of today can obtain process insights and analytics from 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, there’s empowerment to develop new plans and strategies that minimize the negative implications (if any). Moreover, they unlock the capability to see and understand their manufacturing process like never before, winning the confidence to make informed decisions that reduce downtime and lean towards a predictive maintenance approach.
Verdusco Consulting can guide you toward the transition to Industry 4.0. 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 on Verdusco Consulting to support you.
5. Assess lights-out manufacturing
As the industry leans toward a production approach that integrates and balances human-machine interactions throughout the process, lights-out manufacturing takes on relevance. Here’s a way to manufacture escaping expenses, especially in the utility department.
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,” which is a facility that’s equipped with end-to-end automation solutions that restrict human presence to tasks such as machine inspection, maintenance, repairs, and an overall plant overview.
Lights-out manufacturing is not for everyone. There are positives and negatives to weigh in. Anish Devasia from Control Automation magazine wrote this terrific article that 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. Such a requirement opens energy manufacturers to an unprecedented opportunity for repurposing their businesses to keep up with 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 optimization.
The E3 Program could be a great starting point for meeting allies, such as the EPA and DOE, and setting a master plan.
Want a reference to what other manufacturers have accomplished in the field? Read this case study on Advantage Industrial Manufacturing’s journey. They reduced utility costs, decreased waste and CO2 emissions, and boosted sales. All of that while also creating new jobs. Awesome!
The strategies addressed offer different levels of complexity, scalability, and capital investment. I hope they gave you fresh ideas to transform your processes according to short-, mid-, and long-term plans to 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 are ready to guide you through your transformation process to add resilience. Feel free to reach us at:
- Email: Raul@VerduscoConsulting.com.
- Phone number: 248-622-2850.