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Sunday, 26 May 2019

Can we change our businesses in the search for company performance and profit?

Monday, 28 March 2011 | Posted by: Peter A. Rieck, Marcmoor Ltd.

Is it time the coatings industry re-visited its approach to production?   Does this area of a manufacturing company hold the key to profitability and success?   Are we really equipped to meet the challenges of the next ten or twenty years?

Even now we are faced with issues of supply, raw material costs, legislation, restriction, carbon footprints, waste, sustainability and many more appearing endlessly. Can we break with convention, tradition and culture ingrained in the industry and its workforce? What is needed is the creation of a real integrated solution from sales and forecasting to on-time delivery that works in harmony with production and yet gives the customer what he wants, when he wants it.

Too many of the present methods are hand-me-downs with engineering parentage, built around earlier accounting, warehousing and "make for stock” approaches. Slow to respond to change and driven by the demands of volume. These old and familiar approaches and methodologies give rise to the wrong thinking and deny management the opportunity to produce new solutions. It is too easy for the volume producers of our industry to tinker round the edges and a large psychological hurdle for the specialists to devote time to bring about radical change.

In a modern business of the future flexibility and flow will be the kings of the shop floor and making only what is wanted to meet customer demands (right first time, on time) will be the outcome. Marrying plant layout and working practices to the ebb and flow of actual demand cannot be done in splendid isolation. At this level, integration can only be achieved if everyone, from sales to purchasing and back to production, pull down the departmental barriers and team up to confront the challenge to change the process; top management has to come down from on high, roll its sleeves up and lead from the front for anything constructive to happen.

The automotive industry has led the way with LEAN and Just In Time. The result has been a substantial increase in efficiency, a major decrease in waste and large reductions in cost and working capital. Aircraft designers had to change the shape of aircraft to go supersonic, will we in paint coatings and inks come up with a similar breakthrough?

All the machines and technology in the world is no use if the thinking is not right. I believe we need a revolution in thinking for the industry to truly integrate all the supply chain operations into one smooth and efficient activity. Today’s management has to change and keep on changing fast to remain competitive, outrun the opposition and generate above average profits, while satisfying the pressures of sustainability and customer expectation. Who will be the first?

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