New Economic Fears Highlight Need for Manufacturing Excellence

Back in September 2009, this blog highlighted the 'new reality' faced by chemicals manufacurers.

As stated at the time "If our view is correct, we are in for a sustained period of lower volumes and reduced margins but punctuated by periods of high volatility caused by oil and currency markets. This will certainly mean that the pressure that has been experienced by the manufacturing sites during the downturn will continue."

With the current EU financial difficulties and the tightening fiscal controls in China, it appears that this statement was spot on. Although things have been generally better for manufacturers over the last 6-9 months,we are heading into very turbulent times once again, particularly in Europe and in Asia.

As I mentioned back in September, chemical manufactureres need to once again think very hard about the actions they need to take in order to survive the coming storm and to come out in good shape at the other end.
  • There must be a clear focus on what has to be done to survive but this absolutely must not affect the ability to be flexible .
  • A focus on cost effectiveness and value for money is essential.
  • Wastes of all types must be identified and systematically eliminated using approaches such as Lean Manufacturing.
  • Organisational effectiveness is a must. Staffing levels must be reviewed critically to ensure that organisations are as effective as possible and staff should be trained and ready to play their part by being able to safely and effectively start-up, shut-down, change grade and increase production rates at very short notice.
  • Simply cutting numbers is not smart enough - skills must be retained but have sufficient flexibility to be available and ready, as and when required

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