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How to Choose the Right Manufacturing Consultant for Your Factory

November 17, 2020

 by David Collins III

Experienced manufacturing engineer discussing technical details with trainee at factory

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you need help getting your company’s (or supplier’s) manufacturing productivity to where it needs to be. Whether your problems are with rising costs, inconsistent production quality, delayed deliveries or something else, you'll want to work with a manufacturing consultant that saves you both time and money long-term.

4 Key Traits of a Great Manufacturing Consultant

With hundreds of thousands of manufacturing consultancies to choose from globally, it can be difficult to distinguish whether a consultant can truly deliver on their promises to make your factory more productive and efficient. Based on our own experience as consultants, these are a few things you should look out for.

1. Expertise in Manufacturing

Manufacturing any product is, at its core, about following processes to create quality products quickly and cost effectively. The processes and complexities might vary but general methodology does not. The goal of good manufacturing is to be unnoticed so that firms can concentrate on expanding markets and developing products rather than worrying about making production.

Manufacturing consultants do not need to understand your particular business to do this well. It is a bonus rather than a requirement. For example, CMC has a client that makes biodegradable waste bags for pets. No one in our team had worked on that sort of product before, but they had worked with molds and process control so were able to grasp the situation quickly and saved the client over $3M in cost and quality improvement in a 6-month period.

The expert on your product and your industry is you, not the manufacturing consultant. His or her job is to improve your manufacturing and that is all.

7 common myths about manufacturing management presentation

2. Quotes to Your Specific Needs

While the general principles for good manufacturing are the same regardless of the product, the exact needs of every factory are different. There is no exact “one-size-fits-all” solution to improve manufacturing outcomes. Take, for example, automation. Many clients come to us wanting to implement an automation program. However, if the current processes in a factory are poorly managed and produce considerable waste, adding automation only automates the waste.

Good manufacturing consultants focus on your specific challenges and create plans based on them. More often than that this will include a visit to see the factory and assess its current situation. Companies that claim that they can solve your challenges without seeing your operations are not truthful. Any project taken under those circumstances are likely to take longer and be less successful than projects analyzed and planned out first.

3. Clearly articulates results based on core manufacturing

Successful manufacturing is accomplished by focusing on 5 things: quality, cost, delivery, safety, and morale. Any solutions that do not improve outcomes in most or all of these things are not useful results from a manufacturing consultant.

4. “Move steadily and builds things”

A certain tech giant famously said the goal of his company was to “move fast and break things”. While that might be useful for a company as a whole from innovation standpoint, it is terrible for manufacturing.

Manufacturing progress is steady and constant and builds on what came before it. Consultants for manufacturing should create an environment on continuous improvement and iron out production delays so that your company can plan successfully to meet market needs. You want to disrupt your market through innovation but not disrupt the actual manufacturing of your products.

Final Words

You may have noticed that we didn't mention price here. That's because price is a relatively minor consideration when it comes to choosing a manufacturing consultant. Choosing the right manufacturing consultant for your business will almost certainly pay for itself. Trying to save money by hiring an inferior firm is ultimately more costly, and more frustrating, than finding the right firm that can help you most effectively accomplish your manufacturing goals.

If you would like to know more about manufacturing consulting results, check out our blog "Are Manufacturing Consultants Worth the Money?" It can help you better understand not only what to look for but what to expect when hiring manufacturing consultants.

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Topics: Lean Manufacturing, Manufacturing Consulting, Supplier Development

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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