The manufacturing industry has certainly become competitive in recent years. Everything from a shortage of skilled labor to Asia becoming an increasingly important manufacturing hub means that Forsyth County manufacturers must be strategic. They must leverage new technologies, closely monitor costs and develop a plan to best serve their customers. As part of this planning, manufacturers may face an uncomfortable choice. Regardless of the product that they are creating, they may ask themselves whether they should focus on quantity or quality.
Often, manufacturers prefer to focus on quantity. These manufacturers are laser-focused on churning out as many widgets as possible. Doing so at lower costs would expand margins, with the results flowing to a positive bottom line. Even though this strategy could have worked in the past, this is a different world. And today, quality remains king in manufacturing. By prioritizing quality over quantity, manufacturers can provide a much better product, better satisfy customers, and increase the odds of long-term business success.
There are several important reasons why manufacturers should focus on quality over quantity. While a certain manufacturer may find one reason more important than another, collectively, they present a compelling case of why quality should be on the minds of every manufacturer.
To start, quality is so critical in manufacturing because customers expect it. In today’s world a corporate reputation is critical for business success. From reviews of your product on websites like Amazon to your company’s Net Promoter Score, how your customers feel about your product and company affects your overall profitability.
This is undoubtedly true in the manufacturing sector. The tolerance for delivering anything but a stellar product is low because customers have little tolerance for poor quality. While customers may appreciate the low prices that accompany a focus on quantity, shoddy craftsmanship and unreliable parts create negative feelings toward the manufactured product.
Ultimately, reliability is at the top of mind. If a manufacturer is able to consistently develop high-quality, reliable products, customers will take notice. They will tend to stay loyal to the manufacturer because they are certain that the manufacturer will produce stellar products each and every time. Those customers are willing to pay a higher price in exchange for that certainty.
From customer expectations, quality is still king in manufacturing because technology has made it easier to create consistent, high-quality products. While the assembly line let manufacturers quickly create high-quality products, new technologies have made the process much easier.
As just one example, Metcam is a fabricator of sheet metal components and assemblies for original equipment manufacturers. Based in Forsyth County, the company was named the 2018 Small Manufacturer of the Year in the state of Georgia. Recently, Metcam’s President Bruce Hagenau discussed the story of how they accomplished such a prestigious award on Supply Chain Now Radio Podcast.
While there were several reasons why Metcam won, one of the central reasons was the company’s use of technology in its normal operations. For instance, new paint line monitors automatically generate work instructions for each load and unload item. For Metcam employees, this means that they can quickly obtain key information about the job at hand (like the paint to use, number of hooks, packaging type, how many people are required to complete the job, and any special instructions on inspection). This automatically generated data means that Metcam employees can spend less time looking for direction and more time completing their best work.
Along with this, Metcam has been leveraging barcodes to eliminate operator interference. To do this, the company is implementing a monitor system called Metview on every machine in the company’s fabrication department. Essentially, instead of a full-job order package, Metview sends out one sheet of paper with barcodes. Technicians on the shop floor scan the barcodes, which present a digital version of a full job-order (including any of the part’s rejects from the past two years). There is no need to send a paper copy throughout the plant, which eliminates confusion, avoids mistakes, and is more sustainable.
These are just two examples to show how technology can make it easier to create higher quality products. Whether manufacturers are taking advantage of advanced robotics or Big Data, new, disruptive technologies make it easier to focus on quality over quantity.
Manufacturers in Georgia and beyond also need to focus on quality because of the risk of defective or dangerous products. By focusing on quantity over quality, companies are making an inherent trade-off. The trade-off is that they will make slightly more profit in exchange for the risk that our products are potentially unreliable.
In the best-case scenario, quality is not effected and the manufacturer keeps the extra few dollars of profit. But in the worst-case scenario, the product is unreliable and is manufactured on a mass scale. This can certainly lead to customer complaints. But if the error is quite egregious, it can even lead to mass litigation.
Because the stakes are so high in domestic and global manufacturing, it is often better to focus on mitigating this risk, even if it comes at the expense of higher profits. While the risk of litigation may be slight (perhaps extremely slight), a significant error on a mass scale can jeopardize the future of a manufacturing business. Instead of taking that chance, manufacturers should ensure that they are creating the highest quality products for their customers.
Finally, quality is king in manufacturing simply because it helps introduce a manufacturing business to new customers. How does this happen? It all comes down to word of mouth.
Customers who are satisfied with a product are more willing to share their experiences with their friends and colleagues. While it is easy to believe that social media and internet advertising is the best way to spread the word about your product, word of mouth remains an extremely effective marketing strategy. By delighting current customers through the sheer quality of goods, businesses can gain referrals.
Manufacturers in Forsyth County have unparalleled opportunities. While the challenges persist, manufacturers who prioritize quality over quantity have a real shot at achieving all of their business goals.
Yes, it may be more expensive or laborious in the short-term. Quality simply doesn’t just occur by itself. It takes hard work and buy-in from all colleagues. Yet if an entire team focuses on quality and executes according to that vision, businesses will likely exceed customers’ expectations as well as company quantity goals.