5 Ways To Reduce Manufacturing Costs
For many years all aspects of business have been under intense pressure to drive down costs so we can be more competitive and profitable. Perhaps nowhere is this pressure more intense than in manufacturing. Of course, there are a number of ways to reduce production costs, and you have most likely addressed many of them. Even so, it’s always a good idea to take a fresh look at your operation to see if you’ve overlooked anything.
- Material Costs. Can you substitute an equally good but less expensive material? If so, this could be one way to reduce part costs. Of course if your customer specifies a particular material you may not have this opportunity. However, you can make sure your purchasing people are getting the best possible price. Too often companies get complacent and continue to rely on the same materials suppliers without checking competitive prices. Also look for economies of scale by ordering greater quantities of raw materials. Obviously you don’t want excess inventory on hand, but if you know you’ll use the extra material in a reasonable period of time, you may get a good price break by increasing your order size.
- Design Considerations. If you have the opportunity to influence the product design process you have a number of possibilities to reduce production costs. First, make sure your design engineers and production engineers work together to design an item that can be produced as cost-effectively as possible without compromising the integrity of the product. In addition to material specifications, they can consider part tolerances and finish requirements. Tighter than necessary tolerances or smoother than necessary surface finishes create longer cycle times and more intense inspection.
- Company Culture. Adopting Lean Manufacturing as your company’s standard operating procedure means that everyone from the top management down should be constantly looking for ways to make your operation more efficient. If you get everyone on the same page, your people will find unexpected ways to reduce costs.
- Upgrade Machine Technology. The greatest production cost savings typically involve reducing the amount of labor necessary to machine a part. Fact is, every time a worker handles a work piece it adds cost. Using a CNC machining center that performs multiple functions instead of three or more dedicated machine tools saves setup time, reduces fixturing costs and allows your machine operator to manage multiple machines. For example if you typically make complex parts, a 5-axis machining center eliminates multiple special fixtures and considerable operator time required to move parts from one machine to another and set up the parts in between machining cycles. With true 5-axis capability you can completely machine a part in one cycle, often without any special fixtures, and with no costly operator intervention.
- Consider Robot-Based Automation. Manufacturing robots provide a number of capabilities including loading and unloading, force sensing, and visual recognition that contribute to increased throughput and reduced labor costs. There’s a widespread myth about robots that they are suitable only for large, high-volume applications. In fact, robots are ideal for many smaller parts runs where you can automate loading and unloading or other functions to reduce operator time. Robots are also extremely versatile and can be easily reprogrammed as you add equipment and capabilities, or modify processes. Robots don’t contribute to downtime. They don’t take vacations, sick days or holidays or require insurance and other benefits. When properly installed and programmed, they operate virtually flawlessly and consistently.
Another way to reduce production costs is to talk to the productivity experts at Gosiger. With over 90 years of machine tool experience and a staff of knowledgeable applications specialists, Gosiger has helped generations of manufacturers operate more efficiently and profitably.