The agile methodology was initially created for software developers to enable flexibility, collaboration, and cross-functionality. The methodology proceeded to be so efficient and beneficial that it started being applied in many other industries. In manufacturing, agile helps improve operational efficiency while increasing both short and long-term value for these types of businesses. We will be looking at how companies in the Manufacturing Businesses sector can benefit from embracing agile.
An agile manufacturing system allows manufacturers to define, build and deploy different processes quickly. The use of smart devices is one way in which manufacturers can do this. For example, they can use smartwatches, tablets, and smartphones to interface the necessary processes while collecting the necessary data.
By doing this, the business can react to the on-goings in the manufacturing plants. This is in contrast to the inflexible traditional systems that required a few weeks for changes to be made.
Modular equipment has enabled manufacturers to increase their productivity and output while keeping their production costs low. Using options like the quick die change system in their production processes, manufacturers reduce their look-up time and are ready to continue their manufacturing processes in a shorter period.
The quick die change system replaced the traditional changeover methods that resulted in long downtimes which led to lots of lost productivity hours. This system is just one of the agile systems used by manufacturers to reduce manufacturing time and costs.
The data collected in agile manufacturing has enabled faster improvement cycles. Once a manufacturing company can process data in real time, it can more easily react to incidents before they happen through the power of predictive analytics.
Gaining total transparency using data coming directly from the manufacturing floor informs managers and stakeholders about the status of the manufacturing process, allowing them to take necessary improvements or corrective measures as they see fit.
Integrated systems allow manufacturing facilities to stay efficient and keep production on time. They use accurate data and information that allows the connected system to make decisions quickly so that manufacturing does not stop.
Without such software, agility would be much harder to attain. The reason is that traditional scheduling strategies take longer to deploy and may not reflect the actual time required to complete a manufacturing process.
Manufacturing is a critical part of the supply chain and any delay or breakdown in its productivity can lead to a domino effect that affects the whole system. Agile methodologies call for the sharing of information throughout the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the suppliers and all other stakeholders.
By doing so, all players can meet the expectations and demands customers have, and they put on production facilities, retailers, and suppliers. This allows everyone on the supply chain to align themselves with customer demands and for manufacturing plants to adjust their production plans and schedules. Doing so improves productivity, revenues, and profits all at the same time.
Agile manufacturing leads to the convergence of technologies and processes. This leads to added versatility in manufacturing so companies can adapt to real time customer needs and demands. All goods produced from these processes meet the latest customer demands and specs.
Additionally, the IT systems can ensure product quality is not compromised even in cases where there is faster production leading to reduced costs and production times.
Today’s marketplace has become very competitive, mainly due to increased pressure and demand from consumers. Manufacturers who do not respond rapidly to the changes necessitated by this pressure and demands risk being overtaken by their competitors. Agile helps manufacturers respond rapidly to these changes thereby helping them stay competitive.
Almost all manufacturers have embraced automation in some way. Being agile allows them to improve their productivity even further by allowing for additional automation. This happens in cases where there is an increased demand in a specific product. It also happens when there are demand shifts that lead to a manufacturer being forced to produce more products in a short period.
Automation is also useful in these cases because training and hiring cannot keep up to allow manufacturers to take advantage of these events in time. Being agile allows for different sections of the manufacturing process to come together to provide the flexibility, collaboration, and cross-functionality required to take advantage of what is going on in a specific industry. That may be through increased productivity, keeping up with competitors, or improved products to be in line with customer demands.