Since January, this article series has attempted to define the elements of change that have turned North America’s manufacturing supply base on its ear. So as a finale there is a panel discussion titled “Capitalizing on Change: Business Developments & Best Practices” being held on May 12 in Cincinnati, OH, at the PDx/amerimold event. This interactive session and article series are the culmination of a multi-part review of the changes, challenges and opportunities facing North American mold manufacturers and the resources available to help them.
The changes over the past 15 years have been severe and the confusion over how to conduct business in these uncertain times has prevented many moldmaking businesses from evolving to counteract those challenges. But change can be managed effectively—even now. Small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) have options and resources available to effect the changes necessary to compete.
Lean Accounting: The Cornerstone of Lean Management
At the same time, lean may be one of the most valuable and misunderstood techniques available to SMMs because lean is not a technique at all. Lean must be endemic in a business to be effective. But its benefits to any business—when adopted wholly and correctly—are indisputable. The focus on driving waste from the processes to deliver greater value is in itself the perfect antidote to the rapidly shifting business conditions we’re seeing in manufacturing.
Lean accounting is an important foundation for successful lean adoption. Bill Waddell, an experienced manufacturing professional and lean proponent, has helped hundreds of manufacturers around the world successfully adopt these principles and profit from them. As Bill has written, adopt lean accounting “… and you will have a lot of money in the bank. Chase after some convoluted concept of theoretical book profits based on matching principles and fully absorbed overhead inventory valuations and you will find yourself standing hat in hand in some bankers office begging for help, or hiring lawyers to file your bankruptcy petition.”
Small Business Development
Several initiatives are available to offer assistance to SMMs to retrain, redirect and redefine their businesses to compete more effectively. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership Network, the National Innovation Marketplace, the Manufacturing Technology Small Business Development Centers, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms, and other federal, state, academic and privately sponsored programs are in place to assist SMMs in repositioning and redirecting their businesses.
Bruce Vaillancourt is an experienced consultant to numerous SMMs in the Midwestern U.S. via TechSolve, a member of the Manufacturing Technology Small Business Development Centers. Bruce helps SMMs locate and effectively engage resources and alternatives to grow their businesses, and is an expert on many of these initiatives.
Backshoring, Reshoring, Inshoring, Onshoring: Is Work Returning from Low-Cost Countries?
Recent surveys of North American manufacturing buyers and OEMs show that one third experience serious supply chain disruptions that cause them to seek last minute solutions. Supplier or quality failures within an extended supply chain—often in low-cost countries—are causing more companies to reconsider those original strategies. Some have announced plans to repatriate production back to North America. It’s incumbent upon SMMs to seize this momentum as sourcing professionals reassess their supplier options.
Ben Bosma is uniquely qualified to discuss this emerging trend—he has worked in and built several manufacturing businesses. As an experienced designer, programmer, inventor, machinist, entrepreneur and technologist, Ben has seen both sides of the fence as a supplier of custom machined parts/assemblies, and as a buyer of those same products/services.
Effectively Communicating Value
Within this mix, changes in how businesses communicate and research have dramatically changed how your prospects and customers find, engage and interact with you. While my role at this session will be to moderate the panel and interactive discussions with the audience, I’ll also look to interject elements of the evolving sales, marketing and communications channels as they relate to SMMs—and how to get value from them.
Whether you attend PDX/amerimold or not, I urge you to review and research the elements and resources listed above and in the series of articles from MoldMaking Technology.
Street credibility in manufacturing today doesn’t just mean machining to tolerance—it means having the chops to adapt efficiently and effectively to changing buyer’s preferences and emerging trends. These topics can help you do that.