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Manufacturing beyond Recession – New Opportunities

Challenging times, low confidence levels, increasing pessimism, uncertain demand situation, cautious approach etc are the state of economy that’s tops every conversation these days. On the other hand, the recession can make the industry reinvent itself for stability and growth in times to come. As we see the downturn diminishing, today’s slow growth may be the ideal backdrop for experimenting with changes, small or big, and technology adoption that can target big needs.

The current situation can be viewed as an opportunity to become smarter in the way technology is utilised, especially by better utilising assets & effective use of appropriate tools so as to have efficient manufacturing processes.

Best Opportunities

  • Sustainable Manufacturing – Today’s business priorities require that survival comes first, profitability comes second, and green initiatives get addressed where feasible. Yet, the relative importance of these priorities is changing. If too little attention is paid to sustainability and green initiatives, profitability and survival can be put at risk. That is why the most successful leaders are finding ways to align priorities and pursue initiatives that simultaneously address the critical financial objectives and growing green objectives of their company.


            1. Supply Chain Infrastructure

  • Structuring supply chain networks to reduce the length of transportation hauls to minimize both cost and emissions
  • Consolidating manufacturing/distribution sites to improve utilization and reduce expenses and footprint
  • Evaluating fully on-shoring vs. off-shoring, taking into account the full supply chain impact both in terms of cost and environmental impact
  • Considering raw material consumption and sourcing to find alternate raw materials and suppliers to reduce cost, improve reusability and minimize consumption of non-renewable resources.

            2. Cleaner Production

Cleaner Production Hierarchy

Knowledge and skill inputs

Knowledge and skill outputs


Ability to recognise cleaner production opportunities and to evaluate feasibility

Product design, selection of materials, production/assembly techniques, consumer use, managing products at end of life


Understanding of material flows and organisational processes

Processes designed for minimum waste


Understanding the value of waste as raw materials in the production streams

Design of process/product to facilitate re-use, education of customers


The identification of waste-streams and materials

Savings through better pollution control technology, reduction of waste treatment, transport and disposal


Understanding of impacts and drivers of waste

Minimum impact on the environment

        3. Transportation and distribution – Transportation and distribution operations are areas extremely  well-suited for companies that seek simultaneous cost and environmental-impact reductions. For each mile less travelled, companies save dollars and reduce emissions


  • Technology exploitation: Investment in IT technologies and harnessing their power is essential to drive their competitive advantage. IT technologies critically underpin improvements to productivity and the efficiency of processes, and provide the capacity for firms to develop higher quality or better customised products that allow them to capture higher value components of the value chain.


  • Investment in intangibles: Manufacturers are increasingly recognising the importance of investing in intangibles or knowledge assets to exploit existing areas of comparative advantage in other sectors. These include design and other aspects of product development; brand-building; training; and improvements to business processes. Such investment boosts firms’ competitiveness and enables products to meet changing consumer needs.


  • People and Skills: Companies require a workforce with specialist in high-level technology and engineering skills, and a generic set of soft skills enabling people to work across disciplines. Strong management and leadership is also vital for the operation of global value chains and making the most effective use of the skills of the workforce to deliver high value added products and services.


  • The low carbon economy: The need to tackle climate change demands the transformation of economies around the world and, with it, a technical revolution. It presents manufacturers with a substantial challenge in reducing their carbon emissions, and also a major opportunity as the need for greater environmental efficiency stimulates demand for low carbon goods and services. The low-carbon economy will also require a greater proportion of global energy to come from renewable.

Building industry leadership is not realised by focusing on achieving incremental improvements offered by lean and agile manufacturing. Incremental advantages such as cost squeezing, time to market reduction, increasing customer responsiveness (flexibility) and increasing the market share additional point are capable of sustaining current business but do not create new ones. Sustainable profitable growth is achieved through evolution of competitive that ensures the organisation stays ahead of the competition and continuously excites customers.

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