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"In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create."

~Raoul Vaneigem~

Belgian Writer and Philosopher

Industrial Manufacturing Industry...

Since the 1980s there has been a steady flow of manufacturing capacity away from the U.S., first into Mexico and India, and then into China.  This was driven by a quest for low cost direct labor and then expanded to include low cost engineering, management, and infrastructure.  While companies, on a whole, realized a lower overall cost structure during this migration, low-volume / high-mix product lines did not enjoy the same cost advantage.  The low-volume / high-mix manufacturing model requires value-added human intervention in order to operate effectively which necessitates the need for a highly skilled work force.  The low cost of labor in developing nations is a direct result of the lack of trade skills and formal education.  For companies that had product lines that offered high degrees of variation and customization, this led to low levels of quality, long cycle-times, high inventories, poor customer service, and increased costs.

The economics that led companies’ off-shore in the first place are quickly changing.  Labor rates in Mexico and India are no longer advantageous enough to make up for the cost of implementing automation in the U.S.; also, fluctuating exchange rates and increasing shipping costs are eroding the margins of products produced in China.  Because of the rapidly changing economics associated with manufacturing in China the costs of products have increased nearly 72% over the past two years. (See “What’s Happening in China Today”)  This trend is expected to continue over the foreseeable future and consequently, significant opportunities exist to transition certain product lines back to the U.S. at a competitive cost structure.  Products that meet the criteria for on-shoring are low volume / high mix products, and those which are larger, heavier, and more expensive to transport.  Typically, manufacturing companies have not been successful implementing the low volume / high mix model due to the complexities around the frequent set-up and changeover of machines and tooling, complex machine maintenance, and in-line quality control mechanisms. 

To be competitive in the global economy, companies need to produce more high quality products with fewer resources and be flexible enough to respond quickly to a changing market.  BLMC excels at helping clients in the commercial and industrial manufacturing industry by simplifying their manufacturing processes using a variety of techniques including: Lean Manufacturing, flexible automation, Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED), Total Predictive Maintenance (TPM), Six-Sigma, 5S, Just-In-Time, Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), etc.  Additionally, we help clients make decisions relating to product rationalization, vendor rationalization, and roof consolidation based on the economics of the enterprise and the current market environment.

For most clients, this has resulted in:

  • Inventory Reduction by 50 - 70%.
  • Cycle Time Reduction of >50%.
  • Increased Capacity by 200 - 300%.
  • Improved Yield by 5 - 25%.
  • Improved time-to-market on the order of 50%.

We developed a set of World-Class Manufacturing Metrics for Lean Operations which we use to benchmark the current state of our clients against “the average U.S. plant” and “World-Class”.  We then help our clients develop the roadmap for transitioning from the “As-Is” to a “World-Class” state, and assist them in making it happen.

 

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