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Manufacturing musts: adding machines to your business operations

It’s crazy.

You just bought new machines last year. Why are you being asked to buy more? It’s a fact of life though. It seems like when you start spending money, you just can’t stop. But, that doesn’t mean you have to just open up the floodgates and commit financial suicide.

Here’s how to get the machines you need, while keeping the ones you have in tip-top shape.

What Do You Need?

Before you start buying anything, ask yourself what you really need and what you can get away with not buying? Are you looking to improve product performance or reliability? Want to increase productivity?

Will the new equipment help you make more money or be more competitive? Will you be able to stay one step ahead of your competitors?

You need to have the answers to these questions before you start upgrading.

For example, let’s say you run a CNC machine shop. You just purchased a bunch of new machines, but you’re unsure whether you need to buy more. You know what your output needs to be, but you’re struggling with the ROI on the machines. You could just buy another machine and hope it gets used. But, why do that? Why not calculate the return on investment? It will potentially save you a lot of money – especially if your primary goal is to increase productivity while minimizing costs.

Get A Second Opinion

It’s good to ask someone else about what they think. If you have competitors in your space, what are their schedules for replacing equipment? Why do they change them out at those intervals? What are the manufacturing costs for doing so, and is it costing the company money?

A lot of companies don’t do this. They won’t spy on their competitors. They don’t really know what their competitors are doing. And, when customers ask, they don’t know what to say other than, “we don’t really follow XYZ.” That’s a terrible answer, because it shows that you’re not connected to the marketplace.

You might be an expert in your industry, but people don’t follow experts. They follow leaders. Now, if you can be both, that’s great. But if you can only be one (for whatever reason), be a leader. And, one of the hallmarks of leaders is that they know not only their own operation but the operation of others.

They have their finger on the pulse of the industry. They aren’t in the dark when it comes to what competitors are doing.

And, as a consequence, they are very nimble with their products and services. They only retool, replace, and upgrade when they see that they’re losing their competitive advantage. And, they know when that happens precisely because they follow the industry.

Don’t Lose Your Edge

The marketplace is really competitive. If you lose your edge, or if you fail to innovate, you will die as a company. Innovation is all about responding to change in a creative way. So, it’s not enough to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. You have to change with it and do it in a way that’s creative and showcases your ability to respond with solutions that customers will like and find interesting.

These changes have to be effective as well as efficiency. But, when given the choice, always opt for effectiveness.

Look At Your Business Holistically

Instead of looking at isolated parts of your company, look at it as an integrated whole. One purchase will affect the other departments. An external consultant can conduct a review of your operations and help you fully understand how your business works, and where it doesn’t work. Then, he or she can help you make changes.

A consultant can also help you make intelligent changes that will save you money over the long-term.

Shop Around For Vendors

You don’t have to stick it out with one vendor just because you feel that you’ve developed a relationship with them. Sure, relationships do matter in business, but at the end of the day everyone is selling everyone else.

It’s about cost, efficiency and effectiveness. Business buy and trade values. They don’t trade friendships and intangible feelings. So, if you’re currently buying from a supplier that’s gone stale on equipment offerings, don’t be afraid to look at Reliant Finishing Systems, for example.

And, don’t be afraid to renegotiate contracts with your existing suppliers. If you’re in manufacturing, you probably have significant raw materials costs. How much are you paying for steel or finished machined parts, like nails and screws?

Do you need to pay the prices you’re paying, or can you negotiate for a better price.

Stay vigilant. Your vendors aren’t going to call you up and ask if you want a discount. You have to take the lead and ask yourself. In that sense, you have to be the kind of aggressive that makes you a leader in your industry.


About the Author

Ryan Benson has experience working in the manufacturing industry. Now semi-retired he enjoys spending some of his free time writing articles which appear on business blogs.

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