Expanding manufacturing capacity is essential to meet growing customer demand, but it also presents your business with an opportunity to take further steps towards becoming a Smart Factory.
You can even go further than this – implementing an SL Controls Smart Factory solution when expanding manufacturing capacity can improve your overall business and make the capacity expansion investment more cost-effective, whether you are expanding to meet immediate customer demand or anticipated future demand.
Let’s look at both as well as how smart factory and digital manufacturing technologies fit in, and where they can bring added benefits.
Expanding Manufacturing to Meet Immediate Customer Demand
This is usually the most urgent scenario and often requires solutions you can implement quickly. One of those options is to outsource production to another facility. This can get you over an initial surge in demand, but for a more profitable and long-term solution, the best approach is to use your existing equipment to expand capacity.
To do this, you normally only have two options available:
- Adding shifts and then either recruiting new staff or paying existing staff overtime
- Making your existing equipment more effective
The less costly of the two over the medium and long-term is making your existing equipment more effective. In fact, this is usually the best value option overall when you need to increase manufacturing capacity to meet immediate customer demand.
Other benefits of making existing equipment more effective include greater flexibility and the creation of a more scalable production line.
Smart factory solutions will expand your production capacity by improving OEE, so your equipment produces more in less time and with fewer resources.
For example, a smart factory solution can identify where the real bottlenecks are in your production line. You can then get a tailored solution targeted at that bottleneck, improving processes, increasing output, and enhancing productivity.
Expanding Manufacturing Capacity to Meet Future Customer Demand
Improving OEE can also help expand production capacity to meet future customer demand. All the above applies to this scenario as well.
What about when you plan to purchase new equipment to meet future customer demand? Where do digital manufacturing and factory automation technologies fit in this situation?
When we work on projects like this at SL Controls, one of the first things we do is to assess the digital maturity of your existing equipment to determine the integration possibilities with new equipment. This ensures you have all the information you need before selecting machines to purchase.
We then develop solutions to integrate the new equipment with the aim of automating and improving processes as well as ensuring maximum return on investment. In fact, by combining new equipment acquisition with the implementation of new smart factory solutions, you may need less equipment overall, potentially reducing the level of investment you need to make.
The Ideal Time
Expanding manufacturing capacity is a time of change in your business. It also presents opportunities beyond being able to produce more products. Those opportunities, achieved through smart factory, digital manufacturing, and factory automation technologies, will deliver long-lasting benefits to your business.