Agile Manufacturing: How you can leverage positive results
Since the 1990s, manufacturing processes have been changing due to the steady insertion of modern technology in factories. This became even more evident in mid-2010 when the world began to experience a period known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Also called Industry 4.0, it brought technology and automation to industries. This resulted in greater speed in the production processes. Thus, the concept of agile manufacturing was born.
Agile manufacturing is a relatively new idea and is all about innovation. That is because it was born from the Agile Manifesto. This document was created by developers from large companies like Google and Microsoft.
This article will discuss agile manufacturing, its benefits, and how to apply it to your industry to leverage positive results.
Agile Manufacturing: See What It Is
To conceptualize agile manufacturing, there is nothing more illustrative than the teachings of one of the reference authors in this subject: Paul T. Kidd, in his work “ Agile Manufacturing: a strategy for the 21st Century”. Kidd maintains that the process can be considered the ” integration of organization, highly skilled people, and advanced technologies to achieve cooperation and innovation in response to the need to provide customers with high quality and customized products. “
With agile manufacturing, long development cycles and financial losses can be avoided, changing to a value-generation model that the consumer perceives. Thus, it is based on the methods of a development company, however, focused on industry. It is essential to mention that it does not exclude lean manufacturing but fits in with managing methodologies, ensuring engagement and integration to carry out actions that add results to the business. Examples of agile processes are Scrum, Kanban, Squad, and OKRs.
Agile manufacturing favors the integration of production systems and other company sectors. Thus, its main characteristic is to create engagement of work teams through a union between their activities and the institution’s purposes. This is because Agile manufacturing is based on four pillars:
- Valuing human knowledge and skills.
- Having a virtual relationship and partnership.
- Delivering value to the customer.
- Being ready for changes.
Check out some benefits of agile manufacturing
Agile manufacturing is an approach to production that emphasizes flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness to changes in customer demands and market conditions. It offers several benefits for businesses, including:
- Improved customer satisfaction: Agile manufacturing allows companies to respond quickly to changing customer needs and preferences. By rapidly adapting their production processes, businesses can provide customized products, faster delivery times, and better customer service, ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced competitiveness: Agile manufacturing enables companies to stay competitive in dynamic and highly competitive markets. The ability to quickly introduce new products, respond to market trends, and meet customer demands gives agile manufacturers an advantage over slower, more rigid competitors.
- Increased efficiency and productivity: Agile manufacturing promotes streamlined and efficient production processes. It focuses on eliminating waste, reducing inventory levels, and optimizing the use of resources, leading to improved productivity and cost savings. Companies can achieve higher operational efficiency by minimizing unnecessary activities and focusing on value-adding tasks.
- Faster time to market: Agile manufacturing allows companies to bring products to market faster. By emphasizing rapid prototyping, iterative development, and short production cycles, businesses can reduce the time it takes to design, manufacture, and launch new products. This speed-to-market advantage can result in capturing market opportunities and gaining a first-mover advantage.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Agile manufacturing enables companies to quickly adapt to changes in market conditions, customer demands, and technological advancements. It embraces a modular approach to production, allowing for easy reconfiguration and retooling of production processes to accommodate product variations or changes. This flexibility helps businesses remain responsive and agile amid uncertainty and volatility.
- Collaboration and empowerment: Agile manufacturing encourages cross-functional collaboration and empowers employees at all levels of the organization. It promotes teamwork, information sharing, and a culture of continuous improvement. By involving employees in decision-making processes and encouraging their input, businesses can tap into their creativity, knowledge, and expertise, leading to better problem-solving and innovation.
- Reduced risk: Agile manufacturing helps mitigate product development and production risks. By adopting an iterative approach and involving customers in the development process, companies can obtain early feedback and validation, reducing the likelihood of developing products that do not meet market needs. Additionally, focusing on smaller production batches and just-in-time inventory management minimizes the risk of excess inventory and obsolescence.
How to implement agile manufacturing
We mentioned here that the processes of software development companies and the Agile Manifesto inspired agile manufacturing. It was created to increase efficiency in the generation of technological solutions. In industry, the intention is slightly different. It aims to increase results by improving the production process.
So, in the sequence, we will examine four practices to implement agile manufacturing in your operations.
- Plan the activities
Planning is a crucial point of several methodologies, and agile manufacturing would be no different. This step helps the manager have a good view of the company’s entire processes and the sector in which it operates. This knowledge helps to define its priorities.
For example, management software can be used in the maintenance area to carry out good planning. Such technology presents more effective solutions than spreadsheets and tables, even controlling the time to change some parts of the machines.
- Create a qualified team
Understanding the importance of agile manufacturing is essential for every team. This allows for help from each of the team members. It is the leader’s role to present the values of this system, making clear how it works.
Thus, employees can specialize through training, reading materials, lectures, and courses. The important thing is to teach employees how this method works. Remember always to share the pillars of Agile Manufacturing, as they must be the basis of the entire process.
- Hold periodic meetings
Aligning the strategy with the team is fundamental for organizational success. By holding meetings, you can do this, in addition to sharing changes that may occur daily. According to some agile methodologies, periodic meetings even help increase the team’s productivity, as they focus on small project parts. This is to ensure that each is validated before the next step.
- Make work visible
One of the tools adopted in agile methods that can be applied in manufacturing is the Kanban board. This tool allows management to view how the tasks are progressing.
Agile manufacturing allows businesses to respond swiftly and effectively to changing market dynamics, customer expectations, and technological advancements. By embracing agility and flexibility, companies can gain a competitive edge, enhance operational efficiency, and deliver greater customer value.
Companies can benefit in several ways by leveraging the advantages of agile manufacturing. By embracing agile manufacturing principles, companies can achieve increased competitiveness, improved customer satisfaction, reduced costs, faster time to market, and enhanced innovation capabilities. These benefits contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.