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Are Manufacturing Consultants Worth the Money?

September 28, 2020

 by David Collins III

factory workers listening to manufacturing consultants

Looking at the price of hiring manufacturing consultants could cause doubt for any cost-conscious company. Why not solve these problems on your own instead? While it may be tempting to save money, there are many ways manufacturing consultants can bring significant results to your operations.

What Does A Manufacturing Consultant Do?

Manufacturing consultants offer advice and expertise to factories in improving the quality of the products and overall business performance. This includes operations, profitability, management, structure and strategy. By choosing the right manufacturing consultant, businesses can acquire skills and knowledge that the company may lack to reach their bottom line.

Are Manufacturing Consultants Really Worth It?

To get straight to the point: yes, manufacturing consultants are worth the money.

Finding the right manufacturing consultant can improve your core operations and deliver exceptional value for the investment over the long term. Still, there are several essential considerations that you must keep in mind to ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment.

Product manufacturing is the core method by which most factories make money. Every dollar saved through reduced costs and improved quality, purchasing, and delivery is a dollar that goes directly into the company’s bottom line. Therefore, any improvement made to manufacturing presents an easy-to-track investment return.

For example, if a manufacturing consultant helps a company lower rework from 20% to 5%, it manifests in lower material costs, labor costs, and improved delivery to end-users. Similarly, if the manufacturing consultant can improve productivity to meet rising capacity needs with the same equipment and workforce as before, the cost of the consultant(s) was almost certainly worth it.

6 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Manufacturing Consultant

factory engineer looking at device thinking planning

While manufacturing consultants can save your company money and improve operations, it does not mean they always will. It's a tool and not a cure-all that can solve all manufacturing problems by itself, and like any other industry, there will always be better consultants than others.

Here are some considerations you should take into account:

1. Understand What Manufacturing Consultants Can Do For You

There are different manufacturing consultants, and understanding how lousy manufacturing consulting can hurt your business can save you a lot of time and money. Manufacturing consultants are experts in manufacturing, not necessarily on your specific product. It is unlikely that they will know your product better than you. However, they will likely know how to build your product better. 

If there is a problem with the product’s design materials, a manufacturing consultant may not be able to fix that, and you will need to go back to the drawing board. Manufacturing consultants can offer advice on weaknesses in a design in terms of manufacturing, but you will need a design expert to make this change.

2. Manufacturing Consultants Are Not Quality Inspectors

If you hire a manufacturing consulting firm to inspect your product and find defects in-line and before shipping, you are overpaying for the service. Many 3rd party inspection companies are far cheaper at doing this. Improving manufacturing requires a different and more comprehensive skill set than inspecting, and the cost is much higher. Take a look at our Top Considerations When Hiring A Manufacturing Consultant blog to learn more about what you need to take into account when hiring a consultant.

3. There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Beware of manufacturing consultants that say increased automation or outsourcing production will solve all your manufacturing problems, especially if they say this without seeing your operation. Every factory is different and requires a different approach. Automation or outsourcing may be the best solution for your problem, but they also may not. Manufacturing consulting is hands-on and needs time to analyze and understand the challenges before recommending solutions.

4. Don't Chase Cheap Consultants

Manufacturing factories are always looking for ways to improve production with minimal costs. One thing to keep in mind is that effective manufacturing consultants are not cheap. Chasing the lowest price bidder will often lead to lousy manufacturing management, leading to an inferior result. Check the credentials of the company and the people that would be on the project. However, manufacturing consulting should not be excessively expensive. You don't need to pay high manufacturing consulting firm prices to achieve excellent results.

5. Cooperate With The Manufacturing Consultant

In the end, the company is yours, not the consultants. Companies that work cooperatively with their manufacturing consultant are more successful than ones that do not. Remember, their goal is to help you achieve better results from your manufacturing efforts. Note that manufacturing consultants are a tool. They are not permanent members of your company. They teach, assist, and do specific tasks that your company may not have the skill sets to do, and then they leave. However, the results of their presence and work should remain forever.

6. Results Take Time

Manufacturing consulting is not a silver bullet. Even if the problem is obvious, it will not be fixed in a day. Manufacturing is about repeating the process, and it needs to be designed and learned. Employees need time to adjust to new working instructions and procedures, but these changes can reap enormous gains with time and effort. A week or two of work will rarely produce lasting results.

The services of a manufacturing consultant should pay for themselves within six months on average. If it takes years to realize the benefit of the investment in consulting services, it's likely not worth it.

Are You Interested in a Manufacturing Consultation?

To get the most out of manufacturing consultants, you need to work well with them and understand where they provide the most value in your operations. With experience in various manufacturing categories, including but not limited to automotive, electronics, textiles, industrial machinery, and furniture, CMC has a team of more than 20 full-time manufacturing consultants. Reach out to us today to set up a manufacturing consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how CMC achieves results in our consulting projects, please get in touch with us

Manufacturing Management

Topics: Cost Reduction, Management/Turnaround, Manufacturing Consulting

David Collins III

David Collins III

David was a Senior Strategy Consultant for Deloitte, served in Iraq as a Special Operations Civil Affairs soldier, and as a Governance Advisor to the Afghan Government with the Department of State. At CMC, David advises clients on strategy and investments.

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