Ready, Steady, Grow………..


Are you ready?


Manufacturing set to grow a further 4.3% in the UK over the next 4 years


Have you noticed the buzz in the Manufacturing industry recently? According to Manufacturers PMI the industry has a forecasted growth in 2014 of 5.27 % globally, with Africa forecasted to have the highest growth of 7.8%.


It is predicted that in Europe the highest rate of growth in Manufacturing in the forthcoming year will be in Germany (4.6%), followed closely by the UK, with a projected growth rate of 4.3%


Considering this, how will UK Manufacturers cope with the increases that sudden growth demands, and the subsequent increase in the production pressures that follow? When an unexpected growth period starts companies find themselves suddenly asking if they have the capacity to accommodate growth, and what steps can be taken to ensure that they can cope with the additional pressure that growth demands? Sudden growth often kick starts knee jerk reactions with many companies fire-fighting to cope. “I need extra space, I need more staff, where is my stock, how can I get all this delivered on time?” Sounds familiar? Supply meeting demands becomes a tricky balancing and juggling act.


This is not a period of unexpected growth however, it is well forecast. Now is the time when companies should begin to consider and examine all of their business processes to ensure that they capacity plan correctly, and don’t get caught out.


Make Business Decisions


The business examination process should include the production line, the storing of additional components, and the journey they take in order to get them to the side of the track in time for production to begin, the re-ordering of stock, delivery times, extra staff levels, the demand for more space, the list is seemingly endless. And all the above rely on the ability to capture data and transform it into usable information from which strategies and plans can be defined.


Well considered business decisions should be made based on the company’s findings. Part of this process that should be taken into consideration that there are Technology tools out there that streamline processes, without having to increase space, have extra staff, or carry superfluous amounts of stock for a just in case scenario. Technology tools capture the data needed to make informed business decisions.


Visibility – Your biggest asset


The right use of the right Technology will give you your biggest asset in planning and streamlining your manufacturing process – visibility. The ability to see what you have, how much you have made and where it is, is a vital factor to ensure that you get stock; be that components or finished goods; and staff levels right in order to ship products to the customer on time.


Take the warehouse for example. Unless you have a just in time operation where stock is not stored but delivered as you need it, the likelihood is you will have a warehouse operation or at the very least a storage facility.


Is your warehouse up to the task? If not, how can you improve it?


The first step is to get a decent Warehouse Management System (WMS) in place. Any warehouse operation will benefit, regardless of size, from having a warehouse management/inventory control system as systems map processes, record stock movements, check stock levels and track stock items to their destination. Not only that, a good WMS will increase throughput naturally, as all processes are automated, including quality check, and time (and money) is not wasted looking for items, waiting for out of stock items or shipping out defective goods. Even a simple paper based one will do.


RF Directed Warehouse Management Systems are a great asset, as scanning goods in, around and out of the warehouse and the resulting captured data will increase visibility; give traceability for delivery, returned goods and product recall processes. Scanning goods and the subsequent quickening of procedures also helps with the removal of bottle necks, helps to identify warehouse hot spots and will tell you when stocked items are getting to low points in order to re-order and replenish depleted stocks.


Voice Picking Systems are even faster. With a Voice Picking System the operative has both hands free, can concentrate on the task in hand, without the handling of cumbersome hand held scanners or fumbling with paper pick and put-away notes. Typically Voice Picking systems will increase efficiency even further by as much as 20% over an RF Scanning system.


Other additional benefits. The softer yet vital benefits of having a warehouse management system in place is staff can generally handle more product, so staffing levels need not expand as capacity increases, and in some cases staff levels have decreased due to efficiency gains. Tasks are interleaved so that replenishments and picking can be carried out by the same operative at the same time. Fork lift trucks travel less distance around the warehouse as procedures are mapped to the warehouse system, and trucks are directed to the nearest available pick or putaway location, using less fuel, less energy, and less time.


Warehouses need not necessarily increase in size as a good WMS system will streamline processes so that throughput increases without increasing capacity. All data is captured so that you always know what you have and where it is. Stock takes are accurate, can become cyclical requiring no human intervention, and reporting is automatic, available on a minute by minute, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.


“All this is very well but what we don’t have the budget to make an investment at the moment”, I hear you say. With the advent of Cloud WMS systems and Solutions as a Service all need for Capital Expenditure is negated as the WMS can be rented on a weekly basis, with services hosted by the WMS provider. Cloud WMS systems suit companies ranging from small start-up business with one or two users to larger multi-national operations. They take the headache out of maintaining your own on premise system and having to have an in-house team to run it, as your chosen IT Supplier will provide the complete Solution as a Service.


Use Technology tools to streamline your supply chain. Warehousing is just one component of the manufacturing supply chain that benefits from using technology, even though a vital one. Ideally, in order for you to guarantee delivery of your products to your customers then you should really undertake to integrate all of your IT systems together i.e. your Manufacturing, ERP and Financials systems with Sales Order Processing and e Commerce, with WMS and Transport Management, and finally Proof of Delivery. And scan, scan, scan at every point of the products journey to gain all the data. Use the data gathered to improve your services, track and trace your goods, have visibility of your operation and define strategies based on results shown by historical reports, and plan your actions for the forthcoming years. Good Technology is the best investment you will ever make and will give you a return on your business investment for many years.


Author: Linda Rodway Proteus Software


For further information contact Linda Rodway on +44 (0) 121 717 7474 or email


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Proteus Software Tel: +44 (0) 121 717 7474