Manufacturing was at one time the backbone of the UK economy, but over time, the growth of low cost, mass produced items resulted in the rates of employment in the manufacturing industry fall. However more recently cusotmer
demands are changing and there is a move in some businesses to more
local manufacturing or assembly.
In a recent SolidWorks Blog we highlighted how Mass
Customisation of products would see a new wave of highly customized
configurable products being produced through the use of configuration and
automation software which allows for designs to become more flexible.
One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the impact that such a
shift in manufacturing could have on the economic viability of local
manufacturing. The lower costs and plentiful workforces that have been afforded to
companies with a global manufacturing supply chain have allowed them to create
mass produced products that are cheaper to manufacture.
However, things, it seems, are changing. We are seeing increasing
costs of manufacturing in the developing world and consumers being
less willing to accept a product that is the same as a million others. It also seems that consumers are crying out for something with the personal touch. The same demand for personalisation has driven the massive
expansion of social media; just as we can change our profile picture, consumers
want their products to represent their needs.
The advantage of design automation and sales configuration
then become clear. Allowing product designs to change at the press
of a button and at the command of the consumer, gives a company a huge competitive
advantage. While they may still use many of the same components and parts in their designs, combining
these items in new and exciting combinations means that the product becomes the consumer’s
creation, not the company’s.
So where does local manufacturing or assembly fit in? To
allow for these products to be created and launched in an acceptable time frame
it becomes essential for these products to be assembled if not manufactured in
the country from which they will be sold. Add to this is the increased expertise
that comes with creating customized products and now it is local manufacturing that
begins to make more sense.
The advantages of this process don’t end with local
manufacturing either. Any business that has a huge reliance on a well stocked inventory in order to meet the configurations of their customers, will find
that they end up with a large amount of their finances tied up in stock.While in some industries this causes no issue, for others, for
example a PC manufacturer, this could result in them having stock
that has gone out of date before it has left the factory.
Through allowing customers to configure their product and
through locally sourcing or producing what is necessary, businesses can offer
their customers what they want without having to rely on a large stock inventory
and while also being able to deliver products quicker.
Interestingly Motorola will be using this model in their
upcoming Motorola Moto X. The Moto X while manufactured in outside the US will
be assembled in the US. The reason cited for the assembly in the US is the added flexibility
and responsiveness in both the actual customisation of the phone and the time
of delivery which now promises to deliver a fully customized phone to customers
in only 6 days.
As the needs of consumers begin to evolve and new tastes
begin to emerge, those manufacturers providing a more agile process will be the
ones who can provide the speed and customization that customers want. Mass
production isn’t going away anywhere soon but those companies who can see ahead
understand that the return of local manufacturing can be a real competitive advantage.
For more information on how to implement DriveWorks to automate and configure your products please visit www.driveworks.co.uk