Warehouse Automation and Other Manufacturing Strategies to Manage Change

warehouse automationManufacturing and supply chain strategies need to change in order to keep up with the rapid transformation happening in most industries. Rapid changes in technology are altering consumer behavior, customer demands, technical capabilities, and even legislation. This means that manufacturers and distributors need to implement strategies such as warehouse automation that enable continuous innovation and streamlined processes.

How the market is changing:

Technology innovation cycle is shorter. Technology improvements bring about many opportunities to add new services and cut costs. Advancements in technology enable greater manufacturing and warehouse automation and new product and service options. The problem isn’t advanced technology; the problem is how fast the technology is changing. It can be difficult to keep up.

Product life cycles are shrinking. Rapid changes in technology mean that product life-cycles are shrinking. Think about the life-cycle of a mobile phone. New features and functionality are added every few months—a three-year old phone is considered ancient. This mentality is permeating nearly every manufacturing industry segment. What was new last year, is now old.

The world is getting smaller. Being competitive in today’s market means participating in the global marketplace. Being international is more than just sales; it includes global production and distribution as well. Many manufacturers and distributors are seeing more global competition which drives down prices.

Regulations are increasing. Thrown into this mix of industry transformation are increased regulations regarding sustainability and safety. The ‘throw-away’ aspect driven by shrinking product lifecycles have further drawn attention to the environment. In addition, with the globalization of the market, manufacturers and distributors need to consider international laws.

How manufacturers and distributors need to respond:

The market is changing and manufacturers and distributors need to change their business strategy and practices to remain competitive. Here are six business strategies that will help businesses compete.

Simplify manufacturing and warehousing processes. Because manufacturers need to move more quickly than ever, it is critical to minimize production and design costs. Businesses can’t afford to implement processes with high costs and a long return on investment. Instead, companies need to move to automated manufacturing, lean production, and warehouse automation to cut costs and deliver product quickly.

Narrow product focus. Market transformation may also require changing business strategy to focus on niche products and narrower markets.  Instead of a broad product mix, focus needs to be on shortening product development and lead times and improving product and service quality.

Tighten controls. In order to improve product quality as well as meet new regulations, more money may need to be spent in quality control. It is more important than ever to establish repeatable quality production. In addition, manufacturers need to know the rules for international business and follow them.

Learn to be flexible and agile. To enable quick response to rapid changes in the market, manufacturers and distributors need flexible skills and resources. To create agility, they need to reevaluate organizational design to improve communication and generate quick response. Flexibility and agility will assist manufacturers in improving R&D efficiency and the pace and value of innovation. Those who fail to embrace the new reality will be left behind.

Expand operations. While narrowing product focus, manufacturers cannot narrow their geographic focus. Instead, they need to expand to include international sales implementing multi-channel distribution systems and perhaps global production. Partnerships may be essential in order to improve time-to-market and lower costs.

Improve customer relationships. In a fickle marketplace, customer relationships are more important than ever. After-market service and maintenance have become even more important to the revenue stream and the profitability of the company. Manufacturers and distributors need to consider service as a product.

Sound overwhelming? Warehouse automation with barcoding can help

When you need to be more agile and flexible while streamlining processes in the warehouse, barcode automation integrated with an ERP is one answer. Scanco offers automation tools that will help you streamline processes, produce a superior product, and improve customer satisfaction.

Contact Scanco today to get ahead of the market innovation cycle.