To unearth just how flexible the industry really is through real-life examples, Asif Moghal talks to Adrienne Houston, Director of Eurovacuum Products, and Tom Mongan, General Manager at Subcon Laser Cutting Ltd & Vice President of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
There seems to be a misconception around the fact that manufacturing flexibility is purely process-related. A choice between robots and machine tools, followed by a factory reconfiguration based on that choice. Perhaps, that's way too limited a definition.
Manufacturing flexibility seems to be more about SMEs understanding their target market. About having a really close connection with their customers and understanding what they value the most. Is it quality, quantity, cost, sustainability? Then, SMEs should strategize a way to organize the business so it delivers that value in potential timescales that would have once been thought impossible.
It's challenging for SMEs to adopt manufacturing flexibility if they don't have the right leadership skills and business culture. SMEs looking into adopting flexible pipelines need a broader view from leadership that allows for a better understanding of each team member’s skills. What is it being leveraged by the company, and what’s lacking?
Have a culture that supports itself to learn and adapt. Throw human potential at the challenges and the risks your industry is facing. And get on the road of manufacturing flexibility.