Manufacturers often face increasing pressure to build scalable systems. Doing that makes companies more responsive to customer, environmental or supply chain-related changes. Scalability in manufacturing also sets the stage for better growth and resilience. Try these practical methods to achieve it.
Clarify the Desired Goals or Current Challenges
People should first identify what they want to achieve or which aspects restrict them from those goals before they start to build scalable systems. Then, it’ll be easier for them to explore the most appropriate solutions and stay motivated about the objectives.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network focuses on developing, replicating and scaling manufacturing innovations while aiming to increase collaboration and learning opportunities. A participating home appliance company dealt with increased demands for customized designs, high-quality output and fast deliveries.
It responded by deploying a big data solution and advanced visual inspection technology. Those choices resulted in a 35% rise in production efficiency and a 36% increase in quality performance. Those gains could help the business scale and maintain focus on other necessities.
Prioritize Scalability in Manufacturing By Reducing Manual Tasks
When workers engage in too many manual duties, the company is likelier to reach a scalability “ceiling.” Eliminating all tasks done by hand is not necessarily possible. However, leaders should explore which responsibilities are most error-prone or time-consuming. Those likely pose the most-compelling opportunities for reducing or eliminating some manual duties.
For example, automatic liquid-filling machines enable greater output with less human intervention. Such equipment ensures each container gets enough product to reach a consistent net weight. People can also choose specific models depending on the sizes of containers they use.
When business leaders begin to build scalable systems, they should always consider worker feedback. Employees will have valuable insights about how and where to make the most meaningful improvements, and provide details about why manual processes aren’t the best way to complete all tasks.
Build Scalable Systems That Combine Humans and Technology
People often fear technological advancements, believing those improvements will eventually take their jobs. However, scalability in manufacturing is often easier when those overseeing operational changes investigate how people and machines could combine efforts for better outcomes. Such applications often happen when people use cobots.
Consider the example of a Scandinavian food company challenged by lengthy changeover times when switching an assembly line to manufacture a different food. Adding three cobots to the businesses’ 30-person workforce made the enterprise more competitive by allowing it to become more responsive to changing customer needs.
It takes time and financial resources to bring cobots into a company. However, taking the time to do it properly and giving workers enough support as they learn a new way of working can pay off by increasing scalability in manufacturing and making other progress possible.
Investigate the Potential of 3D Printing
It’s increasingly common for people to build scalable systems featuring 3D printers. These machines have disrupted how manufacturers and others create prototypes or even make spare parts on demand.
Toyota transitioned from CNC machining to 3D printing at two Polish factories regarding assembly jigs and fixtures. This change has optimized costs and production timelines when making essential tools or spare parts. Now, people at the plant can sometimes fulfill orders in mere hours when it once took days or weeks.
Toyota’s leaders decided to pursue scalability in manufacturing by investing in a printer model that can create huge parts via single prints. It can also handle components with complex geometries.
How Will You Achieve Better Scalability?
These are some of the many practical and accessible ways you can improve scalability in manufacturing. However, efforts to build scalable systems could span months or longer. It’s better to plan the timeline thoroughly and set measurable targets and milestones than rush the process.