THE INTERPLAY OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES is changing the world of manufacturing fast. It is unfolding new choices and challenges at an unprecedented pace and scale. Earlier, there were a fistful of options to make a product. Now, the same thing can be done using a variety of configurations, blending the old ways and the new, to develop efficiencies throughout the value chain. But factory heads cannot keep changing the machinery every time there’s a new one in the market. Nor one can change the processes overnight to accommodate a new intervention. It will only complicate production and affect downstream functions.
The decision one needs to make is to maximise the output from existing assets by improving efficiencies. It is difficult because a) achieving 100% production capacity is dependent on supply dynamics and b) associated cost of production like utilities (air, water, fuel) also have fluctuating prices. By using fewer resources and maximising output, manager can delay decommissioning machines by a few years until there’s something completely disruptive that beats the legacy setup by a factor of two or three (at least).
Aging machines, if well kept, can achieve 1.3x of their installed capacity. It just requires conscious interventions by controlling external variable inputs that can mitigate redundancies and exploit latent potential. This is because the machines (which are now aging) were designed within the constraints of tech available then. Same is the case with latest machines now. They function within the limits of resources available today.
For FMCG companies, which foray into new markets and are required to introduce innovative products, it is a challenge to make their factories achieve the same level of efficiencies every time the products or markets change. The spectrum is crowded with competitors ready to encroach the shelf space.
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