Manufacturing in small towns has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry. In fact, private equity firms in the United States have identified American manufacturing as a lucrative investment opportunity. They are particularly interested in the 25,000 small manufacturers around the country, each of which earns less than $10 million in yearly revenue.
These businesses and whole supply networks for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly being bought and surreptitiously folded up. But since the market consolidates, small manufacturers must be even more strategic to compete with larger ones.
Let’s cover four tips you can incorporate in your warehousing strategy to compete in this consolidated market.
1. Expanding Your Digital Technology and Capabilities
More and more companies are making way for eCommerce. While small manufacturers have traditionally built their businesses based on relationships and in-person meetings, today’s customers research products online and make even large-scale purchasing decisions without interfacing with sales reps. Digitizing your customer-facing storefront can help you get discovered by more prospects and bring in new orders.
To compete with larger entities, small manufacturers also find it necessary to transition their warehouse to digital technology. Today’s tech offers the potential to cut lead times and boost profitability. For example, your warehouse could invest in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or warehouse management system. Both software platforms are designed to not only automate and digitize your operations but help your employees increase their productivity.
More and more warehouses are also choosing to supply wearable or portable technology for their employees, such as picking scanners, to streamline their tasks.
2. Investing in Material Handlers
As your business grows (and eCommerce demands increase), it will get harder and more time-consuming to fulfill all those orders. That’s where industrial manipulators come into play.
Industrial manipulators are machines with a rigid steel manipulator arm that allow complex pneumatic tilts and rotations — even when the product being moved is handled outside its center of mass. Thanks to their many benefits, these material handlers are crucial for warehouses, both big and small. Not only do they increase your warehouse’s overall safety, but they allow your employees to handle, move and store items more efficiently.
Here are common uses of industrial manipulators in the manufacturing business:
- A product is too heavy to be moved by hand
- A large number of items must be moved promptly
- Manually moving a product puts a person at risk of injury
- Manually carrying things that will quickly exhaust employees
- A product must be relocated to a place that is difficult or time-consuming for a worker to reach (for example, a very tall shelf)
Another helpful feature of industrial manipulators is that they can be customized to your warehouse’s needs. Say you need a mover for a product that’s irregularly shaped or need an industrial manipulator that fits within your facility’s height restrictions. Our team at Dalmec can help build a device designed for your unique needs.
3. Incorporate Data and Analytics
Compared to retail owners, private equity purchasers make more data-driven decisions. They examine performance and assess the worth of possible chances at the granular level. They need reliable data for this, not a filing cabinet full of outdated bids and shop drawings.
Thankfully, many of the technological solutions that aid in the digitization of a store, when properly deployed, can supply this type of information. Warehouse management or ERP systems can not only help you organize your everyday process but help with future projections for inventory, seasonal rushes, or yearly financials. This information is not only helpful for prospective purchasers – it can more importantly help you plan your business strategy for the year to come.
4. Don’t Lapse on Employee Training
Simply having only one or two individuals who understand how to operate certain types of equipment or quote specific materials introduces additional risk and slows down processes. What happens if those team members become ill or quit the job? Do you have a backup plan to keep your business running seamlessly?
By routinely training both new and current employees (and documenting your process for future reference), you can lessen the likelihood of downtime due to accidents, slip and falls or broken machinery.
When organizing warehouse training for your facility, we suggest covering:
- The basics of warehouse safety, including your facility’s emergency protocols and guidelines
- Ergonomics, including how to safely transport and store products manually without risking injury
- Loading dock procedures, including essential safety tips, how to keep the dock in working order, and the protocol for loading and unloading products
- Chemical hazards, including how to handle spills
- Machine safety, which should cover basic training for several machines
Compete Amid Market Consolidation
Now that you know how you can compete amid market consolidation, it’s time to implement these tips into your small manufacturing business. These tips can help your business immediately become more competitive, leading to increased efficiency, more satisfied customers, and, ultimately, more profitability.
At Dalmec, our team is devoted to finding the right material handling device to increase your warehouse efficiency, helping your company grow. Our manipulators can be customized depending on your facility’s requirements and inventory – this way, you can be sure you’ll get the most from your investment. Contact our team today to get started.