Quality manufacturing gives U.S. firms the upper hand

Quality manufacturing gives U.S. firms the upper hand

Sustainable operations are increasingly being seen as the result of implementing lean operations, which have taken the manufacturing sector by storm and helped these firms reduce wasted materials, time, effort, inventory and other expenses.

According to Environmental Protection, more than 33 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. disappeared between 2000 and 2010 – more than were lost in the Great Depression. The figures, which were released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), also showed that 66,486 manufacturing firms shuttered their doors in that period.

However, another recent report found that the sector is actually in its prime to significantly add more manufacturing jobs. The study, conducted by Archstone Consulting, found that companies are increasingly moving their manufacturing operations back to the U.S. With these new operations has come added corporate responsibility, which has led to the spread of lean processes.

“Today, an increasing number of customers are focused on both quality and environmental initiatives,” wrote Bruce Hagenau, president and co-founder of metalworking company Metcam. “Corporate responsibility is an incredibly timely pursuit right now, and statistics prove it.”

Hagenau cited a recent 2012 Neilsen report, which noted 66 percent of manufacturing customers around the world would rather buy goods from companies that make it a point to give back to their community in some way. What’s more, 46 percent said they would spend more to buy products and services made by such companies.

“Companies see this trend, and they are scrambling to capitalize on it,” he added. “They want customers to perceive them as being socially and environmentally responsible, which in turn will encourage them to reward them with business.”

This is where lean manufacturing comes in. Lean, which grew in popularity during the recession as firms set their sights on tightening assembly lines, ordering processes, inventory warehousing and similar processes, has helped many companies boost their sustainability as well. This is is most obvious in a company’s recycling program, for example. A firm that lowers the amount of waste going into its recycling program in the initial stages lowers overall waste, both improving the environment and a company’s bottom line.

Lean manufacturing has also added a new level of quality to which manufactures can strive, according to Hagenau.

“Firms that work to achieve sustainability while retaining a high threshold for quality are poised to take best advantage of the interest in U.S. production resources,” he wrote.

Lean manufacturing has also become an integral part of attaining ISO accreditation. This can be achieved by implementing lean tools that help identify and eliminate any waste, while improving quality and lowering production time and costs.

To learn more about eRPortal, visit www.erportalsoftware.com.

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