Resilient Manufacturing: How to Weather the Next Disruption
As with so many other sectors, the manufacturing industry has been vulnerable to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It may have been one of the industries most impacted, seeing as the supply chains that make our global just-in-time manufacturing system work came tumbling down in the early months of 2020. Now that they’re back up and running, what lessons can we learn, as entrepreneurs, to protect against future disruption? This article will look at what you can do to protect and preserve your business in the face of future lockdowns and supply chain drama.
When the system collapsed in 2020, it was because many manufacturers had become complacent. They did not expect something of the magnitude of a deadly global pandemic to rip through the efficient systems they’d built. Now we know it can happen, it’s clear that better preparation is going to be key for the future. You can achieve this by:
- Instead of relying upon one supplier, have at least three that you’re in contact with in case one of them is affected by disruption.
- Try to become more independent by sourcing your materials directly rather than going through longer chains.
- Sign contracts that protect you if your suppliers fail to deliver on their promised volume of goods.
- Build stronger relationships with your clients so that you’re always the first person they pick up the phone to in a time of disruption.
All of these steps will help you weather the next big disruption in your supply chain.
One of the things that manufacturers found in the middle of the pandemic was that there were global shortages of small but crucial equipment. One was medical ventilators: small parts were missing so that fewer could be made. Another were tiny components for fridges and freezers. For firms that rely on small components, this was a nightmare. As such:
- Always keep an inventory of spare parts and components so that your machinery can be repaired and replaced in a crisis.
- Turn to self-reliance, using plasma cutting machines to make your own components instead of relying on another firm.
- Buy better machines that require replacing less often, so you can rely on their throughout a crisis.
If you’re the firm that has the machinery to outlast the next crisis, you’ll profit immensely from your reliability while others suffer.
In a global pandemic, getting staff to work has been tough. Some have chosen to stay at home to protect themselves and their families. Others have had the virus and have had to miss work. All of this is incredibly disruptive.
The solution? More staff on temporary or part-time contracts. It might be difficult for you to arrange in the short-term, but it means you have a larger pool of workers to pluck from in the longer term, which will help you when many of your staff are unable to come into work to operate your machines.
The next crisis will be managed better by the manufacturing industry, learning the above lessons in order to avoid the severe disruption seen in 2021.