Many businesses today are looking to increase their ability to respond to changes in the market while simultaneously reducing their overall costs. One approach they’ve been recently taking is that of short-run production. In a nutshell, short run manufacturing is the process of creating parts in smaller batches than usual. This approach provides a number of benefits that allows businesses to be more flexible in their design strategy, better adapt to changes in the market, and lower storage requirements.
First of all, just because you employ short run fabrication as part of your production cycle doesn’t mean you can no longer utilize longer runs. Long run fabrication has benefits of its own. These include things like the ability to save costs by having a setup remain in production for a while or seeing the benefits of buying bulk materials. In certain circumstances longer runs might be more efficient but for now let’s look at some of the benefits that short-runs can provide.
Historically speaking, longer runs have been the staple for manufacturing for quite some time. This was due mostly to the amount of time and effort it would take to set up the machines to run. In order to secure a profit, businesses needed a longer run time to amortize the setup time to make the cost bearable.
Things have changed, and the amount of time, effort and overall cost of machine setup has gone down, meaning that short-run manufacturing has become more affordable. This allows businesses to be more flexible with their designs, making changes in requirements or revisions more agile. A shorter run means more opportunities to change the product and perfect it based on feedback.
This also means that new technologies can be integrated into the product more quickly, keeping businesses on the cutting edge of their respective industries.
Changes within the Market
Along with the ability to respond more quickly to technological advancements in the market, short run manufacturing promotes a more flexible response to customer demand. For instance, if an unknown event or variable causes a disturbance in the market, a shorter run means you can reduce the number of units in production to adjust for that lull. Similarly, a spike in demand means that a business can quickly ramp up their production to meet those needs.
Another benefit of short runs is the ability to capitalize on fluctuations in material costs. For instance, if the cost for raw material needed for a specific part or product drops, manufacturers can take advantage of this cost savings by ramping up production for a short time while the cost is low. This is true for price increases, where production can be slowed down (where applicable) to shield the business from the high cost of materials.
Logistical Advantages of Short Run Manufacturing
Another area where short runs can reduce headaches is when it comes to logistics. Shorter runs not only allow for flexibility in changing parts or order quantities, but it also results in a reduced investment in storage capacity. This is because by definition shorter runs result in a lower amount of inventory at each step in the supply chain, greatly reducing the cost of storing those products at warehouses or on shelves waiting to be sold.
Short runs also contribute to better process control. Part manufacturing is often outsourced, and design feedback may get lost during longer runs or even on sorter runs at large manufacturing sites. We find that working more closely with our customers builds a better relationship between us. This allows our customers to have a more transparent view of the entire design and production process, given ample opportunities to improve the process.
Here at IMS we also work closely with our customers to lay out blanket orders with individual short releases weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, to make sure we’re manufacturing at the right pace for your business. We can also adjust delivery dates or part details as needed on the fly to adjust to the changing market conditions in near real time.
At the end of the day there are plenty of reasons to consider short-run manufacturing for your parts and products. We’d love to spend some time getting to know your business and see what we can do to help you improve your designs, processes, and logistics.