Leveraging Manufacturing Operations through Modularization & Automation

Kulasekar Sethupathy April 10, 2015

Leveraging_Manufacturing_OperationsDid you know that the very way you manufacture and build products at the floor-level can be adjusted to expand profitability? Strategies such as production automation, supply chain optimization and modularization can help your company realize entire new venues for potential revenue.

Product cost optimization (PCO) initiatives are directly linked with increased profitability within manufacturing, at all stages of production. The best way to expand your operating solutions and generate additional revenue streams is by focusing strategies on key areas within the product lifecycle

How efficiently do products travel through your production supply chain? What solutions could you implement to optimize product part use, production equipment and materials? 

Modularization as a Means to Improve Production Throughput

As a PCO solution, modularization can be explained as a way to simplify and compartmentalize the equipment you use during actual production. By segmenting your product lines (single product and multiple product lines alike) into various, functionally-independent modules, you can tackle poor time-to-market in a way that also reduces part and operating costs.

Modularization can put the revenue benefits and sustainability of PCO within your company’s reach, by streamlining the way various product SKUs are created using more versatile equipment. With full implementation of modular design, you can expect: 

  • Ability to expand product variety without compromising the quality of individual SKUs
  • Continuous improvement potential (simplified upgrading of production tools and floor-level equipment)
  • Minimized development time, pushing products to market faster than before
  • Significant reductions to part cost
  • Improved aftermarket services

For the greatest results with modularization, you should consider implementation at the very beginning of the product design stage, as your efficiency (or lack of it) early on will determine much of your later development costs. 

Modularized production is gaining recognition in many different industries as a viable solution for expanded operating capability. In recent years, this PCO initiative has brought great profitability benefits to manufacturers across industries.

Modularization has even grown as a commercially viable solution for Made-to-Order and Engineered-to-Order products. While at face value it might seem as though modular design would never work in these types of companies, such strategies can actually radically reduce time-to-market and product cost for customized product lines through significant increase in supply chain and manufacturing assembly efficiencies.

Automation Solutions to Lower Operating Costs

Another common solution for reducing manufacturing operating costs and expanding capabilities are production line automation and robotics systems. When design is modularized, certain key tasks during product development and distribution are counter-productive when completed with human labor. Assigning these tasks to efficient, reliable robotics systems can be a crucial step in your company’s PCO strategy.

Implementing automation systems during floor-level design is a PCO solution best tailored for product manufacturers hindered by slow time-to-market, frequent product defects and high supply chain costs. For the greatest cost reduction potential, you should look at how well your current manufacturing operating systems perform comparatively to others used in the product marketplace.

When evaluating your automation and robotics system options, consider the following key elements that improve overall productivity on the manufacturing floor, and can reverse the poor time-to-market of your products:

  • End-to-end control system development
  • Seamless integration with existing product lines
  • Visioning and Sensing systems, filtering and analysis
  • Value-added tools for SCADA systems
  • Risk reporting and assessment
  • Safety controls
  • Batch control systems
  • Retrofitting capabilities

End-product manufacturers, specifically, deal with certain supply chain challenges unique to later stages in the product lifecycle, such as optimizing existing lines and meeting time-to-market needs despite earlier design speed. 

Integrating more effective operating systems and automated controls is just one way manufacturers can optimize their costs and expand revenue streams to the greatest potential.


Topics Business Transformation Manufacturing Execution Systems