Three Profit-Saving Tips for Manufacturers in Uncertain Economic Times

Three Profit-Saving Tips for Manufacturers in Uncertain Economic Times
Three Profit-Saving Tips for Manufacturers in Uncertain Economic Times

Are we in a recession or not? Either way, manufacturers need to find ways to control costs amidst ongoing challenges. What is clear today—regardless of if we are using the “R” word or not—is that various economic factors, supply chain complexities, labor force issues and unforeseen variables are forcing industrial and manufacturing leaders to consistently reevaluate how to stay profitable. And while they can’t control the inflationary pressures that might lead to a recession, they can do the next best thing: leverage technology and other best practices to operate to control cost factors while keeping up with desired quality, safety and team morale.
In this article, we will explore three essential tips that manufacturers can employ to improve efficiency, reduce costs and maintain profitability even during challenging economic times.

Automate processes with smart, people-driven technology tools.

There are several software and technology tools at our disposal that can help us work smarter and not harder. Maintenance operations is a good example because there are not nearly enough people to get this work done. A CMMS, or a Computerized Maintenance Management System, is a powerful tool that can streamline maintenance operations and optimize asset performance. By adopting a CMMS, manufacturers can efficiently schedule and manage maintenance tasks, track work orders and monitor equipment health.
To truly harness the potential of a CMMS, manufacturers should tap into the power of asset operational data. Modern CMMS platforms provide detailed analytics that can reveal critical insights into operational inefficiencies and pinpoint areas where disruptive issues may arise. Today, our assets and facilities can automatically alert us when they need help, which is incredibly helpful when there are not enough people to do preventive maintenance. By analyzing this data, manufacturers can proactively address potential problems, prevent breakdowns and reduce downtime. The current trend is to find ways to “do more with less” so businesses can stay competitive and profitable even in challenging times – and CMMS can help manufacturing leaders do just that.

Avoid unplanned downtime.

Unplanned downtime can be a major financial drain for manufacturers, resulting in lost production time, increased maintenance costs and dissatisfied customers. Implementing periodic inspections of equipment and machinery can help identify potential issues before they escalate into costly problems. Additionally, leveraging sensor technology for continuous monitoring enables real-time tracking of asset health, allowing for timely maintenance interventions and preventing unexpected breakdowns.
Given the rapid entrance of lower-cost, easy-to-install sensors, manufacturing leaders should expect to see a continued shift away from manually managed usage-based maintenance toward more predictive maintenance. It’s more accurate, less evasive on operations, and now has viable return-on-investment. To illustrate this shift, envision a scenario where manufacturers integrate wireless sensors onto critical equipment like pumps. These sensors continuously monitor various metrics, such as vibration levels, enabling real-time data collection and analysis. As soon as any indication of cavitation arises, the system automatically generates a work order. By promptly addressing these minor issues before they escalate, manufacturers can avoid the costly and disruptive consequences of unplanned downtime.

Adopt a culture and education on practical uses of exciting new technology—while being careful of the hype.

In the fast-paced world of technology, it can be tempting to chase after the latest buzzworthy tools and solutions. However, during challenging economic times, it is essential to focus on practical and achievable improvements that yield immediate results.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an excellent example. The press is heavily focused on AI and generative AI tools like ChatGPT—and much of these articles are negative. The reality is that, when AI is combined with Machine Learning and applied to more specific manufacturing use cases, we’ve seen amazing promise. One example would be harnessing intelligence from all the data available on the shop floor. When we utilize sensors to allow our assets and facilities to alert us when they need help or are out of tolerance, we make space for deeper analysis. From there, we can look at long term data trends to improve future predictive maintenance alerts. When we combine this data with other sources of information—including future sales orders, supply chain lead times and more—the AI can really shine in finding hidden efficiencies. This is the future and there is work to be done, but manufacturing leaders must adopt a culture of watching and learning about these promising technologies while filtering out the more negative stories in the press.   
In the face of economic uncertainty and recessionary pressures, manufacturers must adapt and evolve to remain profitable and competitive. Embracing technology, like implementing a CMMS and leveraging asset operational data, can significantly optimize processes and cut costs. Moreover, a focus on avoiding unplanned downtime and adopting a sensible approach to technology adoption will help manufacturers thrive even in challenging times. By implementing these three profit-saving tips, manufacturers can forge a path towards a more resilient and prosperous future.

About The Author

Paul Lachance is a senior manufacturing advisor at Brightly, a Siemens company.

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