Typically, best in class performers have:
Ruthlessly efficient routines
Proven and exact specifications
No over production
Seamless process flow
No defects or rework
No time lag in process
They might use concepts like
Star Products – These products have their own tailored stock levels, their own processes, bespoke machines, and flows. They get first call in any hierarchy.
Continuous Process – As above, maybe fully automated, even with no need for lighting.
Smart manufacturing – Where tags, software and machinery are digitally connected. Information on stock and process are tracked real time and artificial intelligence controls and manages the process.
By their nature these concepts are product led. For example, a flour mill producing a simple white flour, a tile factory producing a standard tile.
These plants generally produce a limited range of products and sell to a mass market.
Car manufacture shows how processes and concepts have developed. Ford developed production lines based on the principles of meat packing in Chicago, where the work came to the worker. Why were all cars black? Because the black paint dried faster. Eventually his lines produced an identical car every 24 seconds.
A modern car assembly line will build a specific car to order for a customer, combining some 30,000 pre-manufactured components in around 18 hours – from welding to full engine assembly and painting.
So where does this leave a manufacturer who is following the stages of business growth from start-up to scale-up, growth and domination. Today’s market is fickle, and the internet can influence customers and quickly change demand. Planning is challenging. Flexibility is a huge asset.
There is where we at Westaway Sausages come in. We are based in a remote area of the UK, where we can innovate and challenge convention without too much interference from competition, we can pick our partners and develop loyalty with our customers.
We can blend the attributes and concepts that I have described to not only manufacture more with less, but to also pioneer some extra values to offer to customers, such as not using plastic packaging.
We can review and change how we operate and to minimise our impact on the environment whilst still meet the constraints of fresh, safe, legal, tasty, and good value food.
In summary, I think the future of manufacture is not about large-scale bespoke investments, but about clever product design that uses common components that can provide a wide range of variants to market. This manufacturing process will be planned to use a mix of the principles that I have outlined.
Let’s make sausage.