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By Dave Ponegalek

FFJ 0118 guest leadJanuary 2018 - The main objective of every small manufacturer is two-fold: be profitable and continue to grow. However, the diligence and ingenuity that most companies start with is not enough to fulfill this goal on a long-term scale, especially in an automated world.

Depending on what industry they are in, small manufacturers may struggle to discover what makes them meaningfully unique. What sets them apart from others? The concepts of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are driving new trends in technology, causing manufacturers, large and small, to adopt fundamentally different approaches to making things.

However, many small-business owners find it challenging to learn about and implement new technologies while managing the fine details of a successful operation. Automation—the use of advanced machines and digital technologies to make processes run on their own without human contact—is a trend that most people think only applies to large manufacturing facilities. That isn’t the case. Small manufacturers increasingly realize the value of the time and money spent on advanced technologies, but getting to the point of implementation may seem overwhelming or financially impossible.

Robotics are becoming key to manufacturing’s future, not only to improve efficiencies and increase profits but also to address the shortage of workers. The cost to implement robotics has come down in the last few years, so companies that worry they can’t afford robotics need to look at the technology again because it’s more reasonable now.

Separately, how to protect the information that is pulled out of machines on a day-to-day basis is of growing concern. Companies want to collect data and use it to make meaningful decisions but cannot safely do so without cybersecurity procedures and protocols in place.

At TechSolve, there are experts who understand that small manufacturers sometimes fail to understand their own fully burdened manufacturing costs. This is a critical area for success in any company, especially those with fewer than 50 employees; it is important for establishing pricing strategies, determining the ability to compete and qualifying your company as a trusted vendor.

More importantly, for those manufacturers looking to gain a competitive edge in the connected future of Industry 4.0, understanding the costs specific to their business can help them determine if the implementation of intelligent tools is financially possible and beneficial.

It’s also important for small manufacturers to have a strategic plan. Many companies are too busy just reacting to their markets, customers and competition to also be proactive, to define a long-term vision and to lay out steps to achieve goals.

Lean in

TechSolve has a client, a fabricator with 75 employees. It boosted headcount nearly 50 percent in one year, added $4 million in annual revenues and saw profits rise 15 percent. We worked with this client on its financials, studying its P&L and setting up metrics. We then implemented a lean transformation program, training for employees on reduced setup times and cycle times on the equipment, and streamlining production flow. Additionally, the client devised a strategic plan and set goals for the future.

TechSolve’s team of experts within its Center for Small Manufacturers (CFSM) is a resource for small machine shops and small manufacturers that face operational challenges. Through services such as financial strategizing, supplier development, growth building and lean process improvement, CFSM helps its clients tackle key issues and develop a “how-to” for success. We use a holistic approach that takes companies from understanding the financial side of the business through strategic planning into coaching and mentoring, making the work meaningful and creating ROI for the company so they can increase their efficiencies and put more money toward the bottom line. FFJ

Dave Ponegalek is the CFSM business advisor at TechSolve.

More in this category: « Eliminate guesswork

Sources

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Company Profiles

ABRASIVES

ERP SOFTWARE

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

SERVICE CENTERS

Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives Epicor Software Titan Tool Supply Inc. Admiral Steel
PFERD Inc.

GRINDING

NESTING SOFTWARE

SOFTWARE

Walter Surface Technologies Diamond Ground Products Metamation Inc. Striker Systems

AIR FILTRATION

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

STAMPING/PRESSES

Camfil APC AMADA AMERICA, INC. Koike Aronson Beckwood Press Co.
Donaldson Company Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Messer Cutting Systems Inc. SEYI

BENDING/FOLDING

MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE

TUBE & PIPE

Boschert USA TRUMPF Inc. Peddinghaus Zekelman Industries
MetalForming Inc. Vytek

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

WATERJET

RAS Systems LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling Jet Edge
SuperMax Tools MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKES

Flow Waterjet

COIL PROCESSING

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Ursviken OMAX Corp.
COE Press Equipment Advanced Gauging Technologies

PUNCHES, DIES & SHEARS

WELDING

Tishken

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

American Punch Co. Gullco

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Select-Arc
Mayfran International Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing

 

CUTTING TECHNOLOGY

Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

 

Hypertherm

METALWORKING FLUIDS

Behringer Saws Inc.

 

DEBURRING FINISHING

Unist Inc. DoALL Sawing

 

Brush Research Manufacturing

 

Starrett

 

Lissmac Corp.

 

Tigerstop

 

Osborn

 

Tsune America LLC

 

SuperMax Tools

 

 

 

 

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