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4 Tips for Improving Production Lines to Compete in a Global Market

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By Emilie A Lachance - January 27, 2020

Companies marketing their products internationally face both increased competition and tough business strategy decisions. Regardless of marketing, distribution, supply chain, or strategic partnerships, international sellers face many typical competitive pressures faced by national or regional marketers, but with some extra challenges.

Often, additional specialized production lines are required, which means adding well-trained staff. Also, packaging requirements may be complicated, foreign regulations need to be understood, and cost control and performance needs to be ramped up. These new demands mean reduced costs, more skilled labor, and establishing new strategic partnerships.

To compete internationally, companies must address these challenges:

  • Greater sales and marketing pressures from high-performing competitors
  • Locating and adding skilled and trained labor
  • Delivering products at competitive costs and high quality
  • Providing excellent customer service and order fulfillment

Companies entering international markets will face greater competition, increased pricing pressures, and more demanding customer service requirements. Below are four areas of improvement companies selling internationally should consider.

1. Implement advanced technology

Because marketing in international markets brings greater competition, yesterday's tools and techniques are not sufficient to achieve the necessary production line efficiency improvements. Start by implementing a factory-of-the-future design using Worximity's suite of equipment monitoring and Smart Factory analytics software. Worximity has designed its systems to give you the data you need to improve productivity metrics, including OEE. Worximity’s software:

  • Creates a technologically oriented environment that can be leveraged to attract skilled, computer-literate employees
  • Reduces errors
  • Reduces downtime
  • Provides access to real-time data
  • Encourages greater employee involvement
  • Improves quality of responses to customer complaints
  • Monitors progress of improvement programs

Worximity's suite of productivity solutions can be installed quickly, sometimes in as little as a day. Once in place, Worximity's machine monitoring devices gather real-time machine data, which is communicated continuously to Smart Factory analytics software. Calculated performance metrics, downtime amounts and causes collected, and data presentation are displayed on dashboards (TileBoards) throughout the factory in easy-to-use formats. Any deteriorating measures may reflect a developing problem. Employees monitoring real-time data can then take action to avoid production losses.

2. Use creative recruitment approaches

Locating and recruiting skilled employees is becoming a significant problem for managers today. According to the Manpower Group’s 2018 Talent Shortage Survey, 46% of US employers said they can’t find the skills they need.  Highly skilled and motivated employees are always in short supply, but increases in manufacturing activities have caused even further tightening. The US National Association of Manufacturers reports similar concerns.

Changing recruitment strategies may be the key to increasing access to skilled employees. Companies can redirect their recruitment efforts toward tech-savvy personnel by leveraging in-house implemented technology, such as Worximity's Smart Factory analytics, to demonstrate management’s commitment to high-tech solutions. Today’s job seekers are drawn to companies that they see as leaders in the application of technology, state-of-the-art processing, and management methods.

A further supportive approach for companies recruiting in today's tight labor markets is to search in atypical places and apply unconventional methods. Labor shortages and incompatible labor skill sets will likely be a reality for some time, so an aggressive and, to some degree, a non-traditional approach to recruiting may be required.

3. Analyze existing operations

Greater competition means downward price pressures from other marketers and increased demands on order fulfillment and customer service. Improving production line output and lowering costs are critical to meeting cost targets. To reach these goals, it is important to analyze material and information flow, existing processes and procedures, and packaging and distribution channels. As analysis proceeds, identify and eliminate redundant or unnecessary steps and remove wasted time and materials. Eliminate any data or information system that does not add value to the product.

4. Implement a lean improvement program

Implement and support a culture of continuous improvement, beginning with Worximity's Smart Factory analytics. Demonstrate top management's commitment to a program of production line efficiency improvements. Best practices for your industry should be investigated and evaluated against your company's strengths and weaknesses. Utilize lean improvement techniques to improve performance in weak areas.

First, identify internal productive constraints or bottlenecks. Choose the most troubling and ensure Worximity's data monitoring is implemented for the selected area. Then you can begin lean improvements targeting cost reduction, downtime reduction, and OEE improvements. 

Companies selling internationally face a combined mix of new productivity challenges and critical strategic business decisions. Diversity of products, management of remote or distant physical facilities, and responsibilities for expanding distribution channels are all part of the international sales territory. Nevertheless, in all cases, competition across the business spectrum—costs, order fulfillment, customer service, and quality—will be greater.

For today's manufacturer, this means more significant pressure to improve and maintain production line and operating efficiencies. Companies selling internationally turn to Worximity's Smart Factory analytics to help drive plant performance to needed levels so they can not only compete but also thrive in international environments. 

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The Worximity Smart Food Factory solution is a low-cost hardware system that can be up and running in a few hours combined with an easy and intuitive yet powerful analytics dashboard that provides fast ROI to start and a roadmap to full-on IIoT success.

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