| Back From The Brink: The Resurgence Of The Automotive Industry

Posted in Manufacturing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

For nearly a decade the automotive industry in the West was very much languishing in the doldrums with the emergence of China and Japan as viable competitors in the vehicle market. Kia, Toyota, and Hyundai have all seen substantial market share increases across the globe. The automotive industry began to decline. However, even with enhancements in public transport and people tightening their belts in times of financial uncertainty, people have always wanted cars. In the past three or four years, we have seen a resurgence in the automotive manufacturing sphere, as 2016 saw over 17.5 million cars and trucks being sold in the USA alone. Take a look at the reasons behind such a miraculous resurgence.









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A Shift in What the Consumer Wants

Car buyers are more astute than ever before and will take their time to research the fuel consumption, reliability and safety features of any potential vehicle purchase. The twenty-first-century consumer demands value for money and transparency when picking up the keys to their next car.

Potential car purchasers are now more keen to opt for the new car rather than explore the used car market because of the range of finance options available. Used cars also have a tendency to be less reliable and become more costly due to necessary repairs. Provided you have a good credit history, you can now lease a new car for an affordable monthly payment or buy it outright using a loan with a reasonable interest rate. The choice for consumers is empowering and encourages them to shop around, hunting for the best deal.

The emergence of crossovers and SUVs has seen companies such as Ford and General Motors reclaim their crowns as leading manufacturers in the automotive industry. Their latest models, such as the GMC Acadia and the Ford Escape have proved popular with not only the typical rugged vehicle lovers but also with families who require more interior space and comfort. Along with the relatively low price of gas and the ease at which the average consumer can obtain credit, the stars have aligned for the automotive industry.










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Manufacturing Plants

Vehicles can be made in greater quantities than ever before without forfeiting on quality to fulfill consumer demand. Plants up and down the country now utilize the latest advancements in technology such as the robotic arm and the CNC plasma cutter. These instruments have seen an increase in efficiency with car manufacturing plants and have enabled the components of vehicles to be installed more quickly and with a greater degree of accuracy. Metal can be cut quicker, paint can be sprayed more evenly and faster, and welding can be done in a neater way.

The opportunities for human errors to impact the car building process have been significantly reduced with the application of new technology. At the same time, these computer aided machines need operators and supervisors with a more advanced level of technical knowledge leading to a more powerful knowledge base working the factory floor.

The combination of enhanced technology and a greater variety of personnel has led to a more productive manufacturing environment.









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The Hybrid Invasion

The automotive world is joining the green revolution and taking its responsibility to protect the environment very seriously. The Leaf is Nissan’s first foray into the sphere of electric vehicles and has seen a steady increase in sales since its launch. In 2016, sales of electric vehicles rose by 19% on the year before. The emergence of more sustainable cars has tapped into a consumer awareness of eco-credentials.

A criticism leveled at the sustainable vehicle market has been the initial cost of the cars. Due to their niche market at the moment, manufacturing has not yet become widespread and requires more specialist knowledge and technology to manufacture them. This leads to the higher cost that can price some out of the market. However, over time, this should diminish as consumer uptake increases.

Although still very much in the embryonic stages, the manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles will be the future of car manufacturing as diesel cars fall out of favor with consumers and governments across the world. Infrastructure will need to develop including the construction of charging points and alternative fuel options to cope with the inevitable influx of electric vehicles.

Many suggest that the automotive industry is reaching its optimum in terms of its resurgence. Even though it may be showing signs of leveling off, there is little to suggest another downturn. With consumer demand for new cars higher than ever before, the automotive industry looks to have a prosperous and secure future.

| Made in America is back! The benefits of reshoring

Posted in Manufacturing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Reshoring may seem like too big and logistically complicated a commitment for most business owners, but it just so happens to be one the strongest trends in manufacturing in recent years.

For those unfamiliar with the prospect, reshoring is the practice of returning manufacturing operations to the US that had previously been moved to another country (typically in Asia or Mexico).

Many cite logistical complications or cost as a deciding factor in businesses not reshoring their operations to their home turf but as this injection molding cost calculator illustrates, rising costs of overseas production are proving that overseas production can be an increasingly false economy.












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But it doesn’t stop at cost. Here are some unexpected benefits of reshoring manufacturing operations:



Overseas production may have seemed attractive due to its low cost. But low cost may mean low quality parts, low quality tools, low quality labor and low quality technology. The logistics of shipping can result in your business having an inventory full of cheaply made, low quality products and by the time you find out about it, it’s already too late.

Today’s consumers value quality that you just won’t get from countries with lax manufacturing laws.



Overseas production relies on you placing a great deal of trust in manufacturers’ production processes. Ensuring that products meet your exacting standards can be logistically complicated or even impossible. Many foreign countries are less stringent in their worker conditions, product standardization and quality control. Relocating manufacturing to US soil allows for greater control of product quality and greater assurances that manufacturing staff are working in fair and safe conditions.


Feeds Competition and Innovation At Home

As industry, jobs and infrastructure return to US soil you will be uniquely positioned to help feed the country’s industrial recovery and lead innovation.

Over the past 30-40 years as manufacturing has drifted towards Asian territories, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan have achieved great innovation through manufacturing.


Goods produced overseas come with inherent complications and overheads. Goods are shipped from overseas to warehouses at home where they must be stored and transported to stores, businesses and individuals. These processes can be time consuming, risky and expensive.

Goods made on US soil usually have much simpler distribution processes that represent a reduction in risk, time delays and costs.

It also makes sense to bring your products closer to their intended American consumers. Reshoring production back onto American soil puts production capacity closer to the home market and presents a huge reduction in time-to-market for completed products.


Creating Jobs At Home

Unemployment levels are on the up but America still has millions of unemployed men and women struggling to find gainful employment. Reshoring is a great way to ensure that American workers have skilled jobs to help grow our economy and status as a global manufacturing hub.

Every business is different and the scope of your operation and the extent of your existing commitments will determine how readily you can reshore manufacturing back home, but these are some important reasons why you should at least consider it.

| How To Start Manufacturing Your Products On A Larger Scale

Posted in Manufacturing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

If your startup business is already up and running, congratulations; you’ve already achieved a great deal through plenty of determination and hard work. However, if your company produces products; you’ll need to increase your production volume for the business to continue to grow, and your manufacturing will have to expand to a larger scale.











Image source: pexels.com


The first thing you’ll need to choose is the location and size of the new manufacturing space; it’s important you pick a place wisely. Consider how much square footage you’ll need for all the machinery and production line to fit. You’ll also have to take into account room for storage of materials and finished stock, along with a contingency, for furthermore expansion.

As for location, think about how accessible the area is for materials and clients to get to, and for your finished products to leave after a sale. If you choose to have a separate location to house your stock, bear in mind the distance it resides from the factory and business. Renting a larger space, that can already facilitate your machinery, equipment, office space, and your staff is a wise decision. And, ensuring there is room left over for even more growth of the business, could potentially save you money in the future; so plan carefully.











Image found here: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-artisan-black-and-white-concentration-300337/


It’s more than likely that you know exactly what equipment, machinery and facilities you need to expand, which is a crucial step in your expansion. Your manufacturing resource planning should be extremely detailed, so you know the exact cost of any new machinery, you’re going to buy and exactly where it will fit into the new space. You’ll also need to plan the cost of training, or employing qualified staff to run it successfully, with the knowledge of the equipment’s production capabilities firmly in your mind.

When it comes to your new machinery, or, perhaps the equipment you already have and will continue to use; you need to plan out the smartest way to maintain and run them. It’s important that everything is in optimum condition from start to finish, so consider the logistics of onsite maintenance and finishing; you can learn more from Reliant Finishing Systems and ensure you’ll have everything set up and ready to go on day one of production.











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Once you’ve found the correct environment, and your machinery is set up and ready; you’ll need to ensure that tight scheduling is in place. Everyone who works within your new production line needs to know exactly where to be and when, as it’s essential for both effective production and safety. Think about the capacity and constraints of your business and don’t push them too far, too soon; gradual growth, so you get an understanding of the new business, is the best way to move forward.

The timing of when materials are to be delivered need to be deliberate so that the suitable equipment and members of your team are there to unload and everything goes in the correct areas. Knowing what you have available and where it is, will keep everything running as smoothly as possible. And, if there are slip ups, you’ll be able to find out who or what is accountable with ease. For more information on the importance of scheduling, take a look here: https://asprova.net/2014/08/27/why-is-production-scheduling-necessary/.

| Buying Heavy Machinery: What You Need To Know

Posted in Manufacturing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting












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Thinking of buying some heavy equipment for your business? Given such machinery isn’t cheap, finding the right equipment for you is vital. Here are a few considerations worth making before you commit to a purchase.


Make Sure Your Staff Are Trained Up

Machinery comes with a lot of health and safety risks with some of it requiring a license or ‘red card’ to operate. In such cases you and your staff may need to take a course. Sites such as www.citrustraining.co.uk can organiZe these courses. When counting up the costs of new machinery, make sure to include the cost of training into your budget.


Go Second-Hand to Save Costs

As with most things in life, new is always pricier. Finding a second hand dealer could save you a lot of money. The machinery may not have the same capabilities as some modern equipment, which is something to take into account, but could be all you need for your business. Another option to consider is renting machinery if you don’t need it on a permanent basis. Rental companies will regularly service machinery for you so that it’s always in tip-top-condition, although you may end up with a different brand of machine each time, which could mean having to spend time training oneself up in each instance.


Check The History

It’s always handy to know where the machine has come from, especially when buying from a second-hand dealer. You don’t want to end up with stolen equipment, or faulty equipment that could be dangerous. Most reputable sellers will be able to give you a full run-down on the history of the machine. From here you’ll be able to find out when it was last used, for how long and who by (a tip for buying trucks – always look up the VIN).












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Inspect In Person 

Buying over the web without having seen the piece of kit in the flesh is always a bad idea. Always, try to see the machine in person so that you can gage its condition with your own eyes. You may also be able to get a demo by buying this way, so that you can see what the equipment is like in action. Having to do this could limit you by location, but you don’t really want to buying from overseas anyway as any lower purchase costs will be made up by higher delivery costs.


Read Reviews

It’s always a good idea to read customer and professional reviews online – this site http://www.equipmentworld.com/review/ has an example of some. This will ensure that you’re getting the right machine for you and that there aren’t any hidden cons that you might have overlooked. User reviews may be able to tell you popular long-term faults to look out for. Also worth looking up is reviews and testimonials of individual sellers. Most heavy equipment sites will allow reviews on social media and Google plus – check that the reviews are mostly positive and that there seems to be a steady sales rate.

| From Home to Factory: How to Grow a Product With Mass Production

Posted in Manufacturing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Mass production is often something that is associated with big-league businesses. Companies like Microsoft, Hasbro and Sony are probably some of the names you think of when it comes to mass production. A company like Microsoft has to push out everything from Xbox computer game consoles to discs of their latest copy of Windows.










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But even if you’re currently working at home and crafting products out of plastics and papers for your customers, that doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming about mass production and getting your products into the hands of a global audience. In fact, it could be easier than you imagined having your products mass produced and sold to everyone in the world.

If you believe that you have a truly great product in your hands that you produce by yourself, then read on to find out how you can grow your product with the help of mass production.


Personal Storefronts

Unless you already have your very own storefront to sell your products, you’re probably relying on a third-party service such as Etsy. Although it’s probably enough for your current workload, customers will take you more seriously if you have your own storefront or website. In addition to having a personalized store to show all your products, it’s easier to remember and you won’t have to pay additional fees or operating costs to another company.










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Contact Manufacturers

You don’t have to own a company to start mass producing. All it takes is a phone call or email to a third-party manufacturer, and after a couple of successful talks and meetings, you might be able to strike a deal to have something mass produced according to your specifications. Unless they’re a turnkey solution, you might have to invest in other services such as mould tool services, sourcing raw materials, and possible distribution and storage. These manufacturers are professionals so you’re going to be paying more money for their services, but the quality you get will undoubtedly be better than the alternatives.


Supply and Demand

You’re not going to make much money if you mass-produce a product that hasn’t been tested in the waters. Ensure that you have enough attention and interest in your products before you sign that contract to mass produce your items so that it doesn’t go to waste. A handful of sales aren’t enough. You’re going to need to be selling out on a regular basis with a huge log of back orders to warrant setting up a deal with a manufacturer.










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Mass Production from Home

Using new technology such as a 3D printer is another way of mass producing. The quality might not be as great as a third-party manufacturer and you can only work with certain materials, but it’s arguably the cheapest and easiest way of pumping out your products without having to sign a contract or worry about the logistics of storage and delivering your items. 3D printers don’t cost very much and the price of operating and maintaining them is going down as the years go by, making it a viable choice for a small-time designer that works from home.

| Built to Last! Save Money on Your Manufacturing Startup

Posted in Manufacturing at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting













Of all the startup types out there, manufacturing is definitely one of the most expensive. There are a lot of businesses out there that you can actually start with little or even no capital. Manufacturing isn’t one of them!  So it’s vital that you find ways to save money. This doesn’t mean you should be cutting corners. But when you’re devising a business plan for this endeavor, you need to start thinking seriously about the ways in which you can make your capital amount go as far as it can. Here are a few of the ways in which you can do this.


Recycled Materials

The materials you use to make your products can come from a variety of sources. You need to look toward the more sustainable, recycled market. This can often work out much cheaper for you. Another thing you need to keep in mind is that possibility of you recycling your own raw materials. Manufacturing often sees a lot of excess material – make sure you find ways to use all of it.













Second-Hand Equipment

You don’t have to buy all of your equipment brand new and at full price. This may seem like the obvious thing to do, probably because “second-hand” is often used as some sort of dirty word in business. But if the equipment has been checked and is working fine, then this can be a great way of saving money. You could look into getting some used compressors, for example, which can save you a lot of money on one of the most expensive items in any manufacturing business.



“Outsourcing” is another word that is often treated as a dirty one in this line of work. But outsourcing is often a necessity for businesses that need to save money – and can also get you the best quality of output, as well. Outsourcing certain jobs brings you flexibility and saves you money, allowing you to get the job done without having to hire the amount of employees you would need to do it in-house. Remember: employees are the most expensive long-term investment you’ll make.











The Factory Lease

Don’t be afraid to look for out-of-town factories that can often be much cheaper than factories in the city. But remember that these will often require you to pay more when it comes to shipping things to and from your workplace. Consider all of the costs associated with your property decision. And when it comes to the lease itself, you shouldn’t assume that you can’t negotiate a better deal. It’s often easier to negotiate a factory lease than it is to negotiate residential leases.













Built to Last

Earlier, I wrote that you shouldn’t be cutting corners. By that, I meant that you need to save money but without sacrificing quality too much. Because you also need to start seeing these assets as an investment. If the things you’re buying aren’t going to last very long and can’t keep up with the work you need them to do, then you’re making a bad investment. In the long run, it can end up costing you even more money. So be very careful with your money-saving methods.

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