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Manufacturing in a Lean, Flat World

May 5th 2009
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By Scott A. Heintzelman

MFG A lot of the family-owned businesses I work with are manufacturers or distributors.  Whether they make corrugated boxes or custom cabinets, the issues they face are very similar. 

As customers become more demanding, there is increasing pressure on smaller manufacturers to provide greater quality, flexibility, access and value – while lowering costs. In many industries, suppliers are routinely asked to establish a “factory within a factory” – i.e. to supply parts and manage material handling and inventory for their customers. This is a “best practice” adopted from the snack food industry, in which “rack jobbers” have restocked shelves at supermarkets and convenience stores for decades.

For many, this translates to an even more competitive business environment, and the need to be more flexible than ever.  Manufacturers must have the ability to modify their processes to accommodate customers’ needs as they change.  Likewise, suppliers must quickly modify their processes to accommodate manufacturers’ changing needs.

Suppliers struggling to meet these new demands benefit from supply chain management.  This is where my inner Certified Management Accountant (CMA) gets excited! Supply chain management is critical to the success of any organization under the current business conditions.  Managing the process from raw material to the end consumer – to identify opportunities to increase services, broaden functions, reduce waste, and boost customer satisfaction.

I spent a lot of time studying supply chain management and continue to work with my clients in maximizing the benefits of their process.

A great website for more information is Manufacturing Central.  This site is a collection of all things related to manufacturing and distribution.  They also recently profiled my blog and The World is Flat.


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