Looking at how much manufacturing consultants can cost may be enough for any cost-conscious company to do a double-take.Why not solve these problems on your own instead? While it may be tempting to "save money"in this way, there are many ways manufacturing consultants can bring big results to your operations.
Are Manufacturing Consultants Really Worth It?
To get straight to the point: yes, manufacturing consultants are worth the money.
Good manufacturing consultants 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.
Manufacturing product is the core method that any company who produces and sells physical goods; it is how they make money. Every dollar saved through reduced costs, improved quality, improved purchasing, and improved delivery is a dollar that goes directly into the company’s bottom line thus any improvement made to manufacturing presents an easily to track return on investment.
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
However, just because manufacturing consultants can save your company money and improve operations does not mean they always will. Consulting is a tool and not a cure-all that can solve all a company’s manufacturing problems by itself and, like any other industry, there will always be consultants that are better than others.
Here are some considerations you should take into account:
1. Understand what the consultant can do for you and what they cannot
Manufacturing consultants are experts in manufacturing, not necessarily on your specific product. It is highly unlikely that they will know your product better than you do. 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. 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 company to inspect your product and find defects in-line and/or prior to shipping, you are overpaying for the service. There are many 3rd party inspection companies who are far cheaper to do this. Improving manufacturing requires a different and more comprehensive skill set than inspecting, and the cost is much higher.
3. There is no one-size-fits-all solution
Beware of the 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 requires time to analyze and understand the challenges before recommending solutions.
4. Don't chase inexpensive consultants
Good manufacturing consultants are not cheap. Chasing the lowest price bidder will often lead 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 do not need to pay high-priced consulting firm prices to achieve excellent results.
5. Be a partner, not an obstacle
In the end, the company is yours, not the consultants. Companies that work cooperatively with their consultant are more successful than ones that do not. Remember, their goal is to help you achieve better results from your manufacturing efforts. Note, manufacturing consultants are a tool. They are not permanent members of your company. They come teach, assist, do specific tasks that your company may not have the skill sets at that time to do the work, then they leave. However, the results of their presence and work should remain forever.
6. Results are seldom immediate
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. 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. CMC’s average return on investment for its clients is three months with a few notable exceptions (once we provided a complete return on investment in 4 hours, but that was an extraordinary case). If takes years to realize the benefit of the investment in consulting services, it is likely not worth it.
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. What experiences have you had with consultants, manufacturing or otherwise? Have they yielded great results?
If you would like to learn more about how CMC achieves results in our consulting projects, please get in touch with us.