Why Agile Is the Best Approach for Manufacturers in 2022
The coronavirus pandemic exposed the fragility of the global economy in the year 2020. The effect on industrial operations was visible more in manufacturing.
Although manufacturing took a hit, it recovered brilliantly and will continue its climb in 2022. According to a U.S Census Bureau report in November 2021, manufacturing orders and shipments increased in the last 18 months.
This development does not mean that the future is going to be a walk in the park. One of the main challenges that manufacturing companies should look to tackle is the shift in consumer-led demand. What does this mean?
Consumers expect fast delivery. They fancy personalized products. What they need and how they want it is changing rapidly.
So how can you keep up? How can you adapt, produce, and deliver exactly what they want on time? The answer is Agile Manufacturing.
In this article, you will learn why you should incorporate an agile methodology into your company’s ecosystem to stay in the race and even come out favorites.
What is Agile Manufacturing?
The word agile is defined as the ability to move quickly or adapt easily. In industrial terms, it refers to the company’s ability to respond to changing customer and market demands.
An agile organization will remodel facilities, modify agreements with suppliers, and welcome novel ideas to improve production. The difference between traditional and agile is that the processes are separate but not rigid.
All teams – customer support, manufacturing staff, marketers, and even truck drivers – are in sync to analyze and improve strategies to satisfy their customer demands in short cycles.
According to Zippia's 2022 research, although 71% of U.S companies use Agile, only 27.4% of the manufacturing industry relies entirely on this method. Research also suggests that 56.6% of manufacturing companies combine Agile with other methodologies, such as Lean.
Before you implement Agile manufacturing, you need to understand the benefits and challenges that await you. Let’s look at some!
Key Benefits Of Agile Manufacturing
What better business model than one that focuses its entire operation on consumer satisfaction?
When a company functions with the flexibility to successfully tackle fluctuating demand, it automatically gets a competitive advantage. You are already ahead in the race if you can match the expected quality while accounting for desired variations.
Being Agile means, you have to use smart and intelligent management processes. Integrated systems, with the help of software tools, ensure smooth communication.
This type of connectivity in an organization saves time, increases efficiency, and boosts productivity while minimizing staff intervention.
Better Supply Chain Coordination
Suppliers respond better when information flow is timely and adequate. Shippers need to align with up-to-date delivery requirements to ensure rapid delivery.
Agile methodology allows both internal and external entities to coordinate well. Hence, the flow of information is accurate and instantaneous. This enables quick response and minimizes miscommunication.
Notable Challenges In Adapting Agile Manufacturing
Difficulty To Convince Top Management
In large organizations, more than one person is calling the shots. Before companies adapt entirely to Agile, all decision-makers have to sign off on it.
The problem is that although middle management understands the need for Agile, C-suite leaders can prove to be out of touch and resist change.
Therefore the first challenge in integrating Agile manufacturing could be about making a robust case for it inside conference rooms.
Yes, improvising manufacturing methods is an asset in today’s world, but it doesn’t come cheap. You will have to increase your budget.
Not everyone in the team knows and understands how Agile works and why it is necessary. To bridge that gap it will take continuous and advanced training.
Also, Agile demands a manufacturing plant to change the way production takes place. Existing infrastructure might not suffice. So, you might have to purchase new machinery, re-build facilities, and even expand warehouse space.
Planning and management have to be top-notch when implementing Agile. Due to rapid shifts in demand, forecasting is difficult.
In Agile, schedule changes are inevitable. The weight is on the managers as they may find it tough to deal with such volatility.
Agility is not about strict rules and rigidity. It is about a flexible framework and more outside-the-box thinking.
Of course, change will be challenging and will take time to reach optimum efficiency. Once you are in the game, it becomes a survival instinct for an organization.
When you understand that Agility is a continuous process, you can only become better. And what better time to plant the seed than now?
At MMI, we have helped leading brands leverage our extensive network and sub-brands to overcome manufacturing and supply chain challenges. Our decades of experience will help you bring products to market on time both domestically and abroad.