10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Introduction

10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Introduction

Volume was cranking and new products were scaling well as peak season crept inexorably closer. Staff were struggling with new machines and processes but gradually getting on top of things. The real challenge was the widely varying quality and fail rates on the 2nd and 3rd shifts and the weekend was a work in progress.

It’s a true story. From a distance I watched a company at the peak of apparent success run itself into the ground and end up in liquidation.

Leading an On Demand manufacturing business is hard. A line producing a product with Cost of Goods Sold in the cents can be making a batch in the tens of dollars minutes later, volumes dance around, machines break and stocks vary. It demands agility and attention to detail.

In this article we explore 10 opportunities for stripping cost from Custom and On Demand Manufacturing through Workflow Automation.


Different Perspectives

I’ve worn a wide variety of hats throughout the many years I have been in On Demand manufacturing. I’ve founded and managed a successful retail brand, provided a full service to white label brands, built and run a manufacturing plant with multiple peak retail white label clients. Currently, my team and I are developers of the ZenSmart workflow automation software platform which maximizes manufacturing plant efficiency and minimizes cost.

These diverse roles have taken me into a ‘lot’ of On Demand plants across the world from textiles to photo, print, giftware, label and display. Some factories produce just a few items a day and others churn out tens of thousands, some have ranges as small as 100 SKU’s and others thousands. Some are incredibly capital intensive with the latest in machine automation whereas others use a people centric approach. I’ve seen companies fail when they thought they were succeeding and others brilliantly execute expanding their product ranges, growing new businesses and creating a super-aligned culture. Collectively they provide a range of really valuable insights into how different companies tackle the challenge of running their factories as efficiently as possible.

There are 10 categories of cost savings to be realised, as a list those categories are:

  1. Orders: Automate order processing
  2. Press Room: Automate orders onto the press
  3. Imposition: Optimise press impositions (ganging) and eliminate waste
  4. People: Tracking productivity and creating performance accountability
  5. Machines: Automation and making dumb machines smart
  6. Materials: (Almost) eliminate waste
  7. Shipping: Optimise freight costs
  8. Scheduling: Right product, right time
  9. Culture: Singing from the same hymn book
  10. Insight: Finding the truth

A single item in the list can drive 6 figure savings, collectively they can transform a business.

Next > Orders: Automate order processing

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© ZenSmart.ai

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.



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