Lean times call to manufacturers

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With the latest manufacturing output figures showing a drop for the sixth month in a row, the Government’s manufacturing trouble shooter is urging manufacturers in Cornwall to focus efforts on getting lean to boost their bottom line.
With the turmoil in the world’s financial markets showing no signs of abating, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has issued a call to arms to the region’s manufacturers to embrace proven techniques in lean manufacturing by cutting down on waste, reducing production lead times and improving stock levels to increase vital cash and reduce exposure to debts.

Simon Howes, business development director of MAS South West said: “Times are undoubtedly tough. You can’t open a newspaper or turn on the radio without an economist, accountant or management consultant painting a gloomy picture of what the downturn means for UK businesses.

“However, there is no reason why the manufacturing sector cannot rise above the money meltdown and come out of the other side in an even stronger position. Manufacturers must take action now to become leaner by managing cash flow more effectively, following a continuous improvement agenda, controlling costs, minimising waste and tightening overall expenditure.

“Following lean manufacturing principles is a key way for manufacturers to boost the bottom line but it is vital that this is not at the expense of delivering on-time quality goods and service to customers. In these challenging times, manufacturers must balance the need to cut costs with the need to meet customer requirements and provide added value. This is the only way that firms will protect and increase market share, safeguard their corporate reputation and survive the ups and downs of the global economy.”

To help manufacturers explore new options to reduce costs and build productivity and competitiveness as the slow down bites, the MAS has developed a ‘Downturn Readiness Review’ to help firms adapt their business and to capitalise on emerging opportunities. The programme covers a review of business finances, market landscape, plus people and processes to help businesses reduce their exposure to risk. It takes them through a series of ‘what if’ scenarios to help them develop more effective action plans.

Simon Howes added: “The adage goes that you can never be too prepared and this is even more pertinent given the current unprecedented economic conditions. That said, as much as you get your house in order to combat the downturn, you also need to be ready for the upturn and any potential opportunities looming on the horizon. Changes in the economy can present new avenues for growth – manufacturers just need to be able to identify the opportunities and ensure they are in a strong enough position to take advantage of them.”