What's the future going to be like for manufacturing?
A look back at 2020
As we move to the end of 2020, the covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, along with the effects of Brexit also on the horizon as 2021 comes round the corner.
These are both huge previously unimaginable events, with the effects of both challenging the manufacturing operating models and systems, which have originally been the foundations of the industry’s aspirations. We see the effect of this particularly when it comes to production models such as ‘Just In Time’ (JIT) and ‘Lean manufacturing’ – with both of these requiring a ‘clean’ supply chain with dependable deliveries and zero interruption.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, these operating models have been impacted greatly and with illness, self-isolation of staff, and potential stock shortages putting supply interruptions to the top of 2020’s list of challenges.
As the Government have noticed, whilst most of the country are currently working from home, the manufacturing industry is not a ‘WFH’ industry and despite the vast array of in-house safety precautions, the pandemic risks do still exist.
All of this is also underlined by the much-anticipated impact of Brexit – with new laws and regulations regarding import processes having the potential to cause further impact on supply chains.
If a JIT policy is in place, any delay from Covid-19, Brexit or otherwise could have a detrimental effect on the entire production process. Similarly, if a Lean manufacturing policy is in place there may only be a small amount of, if any, safety inventory. We have seen that many companies have relaxed their policies recently, allowing the holding of increased stock levels and the use of dual source suppliers.
Moving manufacturing forward
At present, AGW are attempting to supply a customer whose JIT policy inadvertently pushed out the required supply date for the delivery of some components. When this request for an altered supply date, which was found to be an error by the customer, the customer then requested the delivery date from AGW be moved back to the original date.
Unfortunately, AGW had already utilised the available manufacturing time to meet another customer’s needs. However, with a local and flexible approach, AGW were able to supply split quantities on same day shipments in order to keep the initial customer’s production functioning as best as possible.
Ultimately, this situation was due to an inadvertent mistake and could have happened at any period in time, with or without Covid-19/Brexit. However, this highlights two major issues within the manufacturing industry, particularly at this time. Will this force a change in models and systems, a move towards a more reliable, flexible supply chain, a move to holding more inventory and a move away from squeezing manufacturing for any perceived saving? Watch this space..