Much of the aerospace/space/defense manufacturing contracting has low-volume requirements. The low volume is usually accompanied by a high product mix, which can challenge production planning for a contract manufacturer. Successfully balancing low-volume and high-mix manufacturing requires an experienced manufacturer with strong system controls. Effectively controlling these manufacturing attributes requires flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness. Intrex Aerospace has the experience and know-how to address this evolving shift in customer preference as the customer moves away from ordering in larger volumes and expresses a need for greater customization.
There are several advantages for the customer to this low-volume, high-mix approach:
- Increased responsiveness to market changes allows businesses to quickly respond to changes in market demand by producing new products or modifying existing products. This can give businesses a competitive advantage.
- Traditional manufacturing often involves maintaining high inventory levels to achieve economies of scale. Conversely, low-volume, high-mix manufacturing reduces the need for excessive stockpiling, reducing inventory carrying costs. This results in lower inventory costs and improved cash flow.
- Allows the customer to make changes and upgrades with less concern for depleting large inventory build-ups.
- It helps businesses meet their customers’ specific needs by producing custom products. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Focusing on smaller production volumes permits closer monitoring and quality control of products. It does not allow product defects to accumulate.
Challenges for the contract manufacturer:
The balancing low-volume, high-mix manufacturing presents a unique set of challenges for the contract manufacturer. To be successful, they must be able to balance a diverse product mix while maintaining operational efficiency. Balancing these resources requires:
- Low volumes and high product variation present challenges in optimizing production capacity utilization. Contract manufacturers must carefully balance the allocation of resources, including labor, equipment, and time to achieve optimum efficiency. Flexible manufacturing systems and state-of-the-art equipment allow the contract manufacturer to quickly and easily change between products. This includes continuous training of a skilled labor force. All this contributes to reducing setup costs and improving lead times.
- Constantly seeking improvement is vital in low-volume, high-mix manufacturing. Companies need to embrace lean manufacturing principles. It is a production philosophy focusing on eliminating waste and improving efficiency. Lean manufacturing principles can be applied, which foster a culture of innovation, help reduce overall costs, and improve quality.
- Advanced planning and scheduling software can help contract manufacturers optimize production schedules and reduce lead times. Having a robust integrated system software is foundational to the entire process.
- Effectively communicating and coordinating with the customer and having access to accurate customer forecasting necessary for optimizing production and reducing lead times.
Low-volume, high-mix manufacturing presents an exciting paradigm shift in modern manufacturing. Balancing the low-volume, high-mix manufacturing has emerged as a viable alternative to mass production. It weighs market demands for variety and customization with operational efficiency. Embracing this approach requires strategically integrating technology, data analytics, and collaborative supply chain practices. Implementing this model can enable manufacturers to meet needs, reduce waste, and stay competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape.
For more information about Intrex Aerospace, please click here.