Turbulent Times Continue for Chemicals Manufacturers

Having already withstood one of the worst recessions in living memory, chemicals manufacturers were very much hoping for some respite, as the world economies appeared to be pulling out of recession.

The summer break, however, has brought more suggestions of double-dip recession and with car sales and construction starts down, together with a likely slowdown in economic activity in China, we can foresee a difficult few months for the chemical industry. The 'new normal' as predicted by my colleague Paul Hodges, is very much with us.

So how do we cope with this 'new normal'. We've already had job cuts and, in many instances, significantly reduced levels of discretionary expenditure. So where next? It certainly isn't an easy question to answer and there isn't a one size-fits-all solution but I think that a very high level of challenge and focus is most important, in order to ensure that we are fully focussed on doing the right things

Here's a list of questions to challenge the management team of any chemicals manufacturer...

  • Do you have a highly capable manufacturing management team?
  • Does your team understand the challenges of the new normal?
  • Does the team understand the need for adaptability and flexibility?
  • Does the team know how to achieve this adaptability and flexibility?
  • Are management objectives aligned with these needs?
  • Have strategies been prepared for the challenges which may occur?
  • Are all of the operating and capital cost requirements fully understood?
  • Is there a relentless drive to improve cost effectiveness?
  • Does the management team understand fully the consequences of any decisions they make?
  • Do you know what your competition is doing to achieve success in the new ‘normal’?
  • Does your workforce have the right skill levels for the high level performance required under varying conditions?
  • Does your workforce understand the need for change?
  • Do you have appropriate agreements in place to give you the required levels of flexibility?
  • Are your workforce objectives and targets aligned with those of management and the organisation?

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