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How to Increase EBITDA in Manufacturing: 6-Part Guide

February 2, 2024

 by David Collins III

the interior of a factory line, with a diagram of a dollar sign and an arrow trending upwards symbolising the upwards trend of EBITDA of a factory

In the competitive global manufacturing landscape, businesses continually seek ways to enhance profitability and lower costs. One key metric that serves as a gauge for financial health and operational efficiency is EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization). In this blog, we'll explore 6 practical approaches and techniques to increase EBITDA in manufacturing, drawing insights from real-world examples that MTG has experienced.

What is EBITDA?

EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. It's a widely used metric in finance to assess a company's operational efficiency and profitability. Unlike net income, EBITDA focuses on the revenue generated from core business operations, excluding the costs of debt, tax, and non-cash expenses like depreciation and amortization. In the manufacturing sector, a strong EBITDA can indicate efficient production processes, effective cost management, and overall financial health. EBITDA can also be used to assess the overall value of a manufacturing company, by using EBITDA multiples.


6 Effective Approaches and Techniques to Increase EBITDA in Manufacturing

1. Enhancing Operational Efficiency and Cost Control for Better EBITDA Margins

Streamlining operations and controlling costs are fundamental steps to boost EBITDA at every factory stage. For instance, when selecting different locations to set up your factory, it’s essential to focus on the functionality of the land over immediate cost savings. Perhaps you are considering two locations, one close to the seaport and more expensive, and the other being less convenient and cheaper. The one closer to the seaport may reduce your transportation costs, but it may not have the capacity for growth.  The one further from the port may be less expensive, but you may not have access to the same labor pool as the one closer to the port.  Finding a way to balance each of these can optimize your EBITDA. 

Companies can significantly improve their EBITDA margins by optimizing manufacturing processes, reducing waste, and enhancing resource utilization. This principle was exemplified when Craftsman prioritized lower equipment costs over operational effectiveness, resulting in lower overall profitability in the long run. 

Initially, it might improve costs by buying cheap equipment and laying off experienced employees for lower-cost new employees. Still, it will cost the company more in the long run, negatively affecting the EBITDA.

A Real-life Example of a Manufacturer Prioritizing Lower Costs Over Operational Effectiveness

 An example of short-term decision-making came from a leading tool manufacturer. This company prioritized lower equipment costs over operational effectiveness, resulting In the factory eventually closing down due to excessive costs. Initially, the capital it saved by buying cheap equipment and laying off experienced employees for lower-cost new employees was offset by losing experience on its production line. These decisions ultimately impacted EBITDA since production output was negatively impacted by machine maintenance issues, as well as having to continuously train inexperienced labor. A more effective solution would be to invest in better equipment and leverage a mix of experienced labor mentoring inexperienced staff.   

Explore Part 1 of 6 in our series for further insights:


2. Supply Chain Optimizations to Increase EBITDA

An efficient supply chain is not just desirable but pivotal in manufacturing sectors. Companies must adopt a multi-faceted strategy to effectively mitigate disruptions, especially during critical periods like factory relocations. This includes diversifying their supplier base, reducing dependency on a single source, and consistently monitoring suppliers. Leveraging technology for real-time monitoring is another crucial step. This means coordinating inbound supplier activities with customer orders and production. An effective solution enables manufacturers to anticipate disruptions, manage inventory more effectively, and make informed decisions swiftly to reduce customer impact and minimize product cost variances.

Fostering collaboration with critical stakeholders – suppliers, logistics providers, and even customers – is vital. This collaborative approach helps create a transparent and responsive supply chain network. Such a network is better equipped to handle unforeseen challenges, which maintains production flow and cost-efficiency.

Manufacturers should extend their risk assessment to include second and third-tier suppliers. Disruptions at these levels can cascade, impacting the entire supply chain. Proactive risk management, including contingency planning and establishing alternative supply routes, is imperative to safeguard against such vulnerabilities.

Explore Part 2 of 6 in our series for further insights:


3. Leveraging Factory Relocation and Reshoring for EBITDA Enhancement

Factory relocation and reshoring are not just logistical moves but strategic decisions that can significantly influence a company's EBITDA. This process demands meticulous planning and execution, focusing on aligning the relocation strategy to the company's overarching business goals. A thorough understanding of the specific needs of a company is fundamental. It helps identify the ideal location that caters to logistical requirements and aligns with market access, labor availability, and cost structures.

For the lower middle market especially, professional assistance is vital in managing such transitions. Experience in factory relocation contributes to minimizing downtime and ensuring regulatory compliance, which enhances operational efficiency. Moreover, engaging with local governments to secure incentives like tax breaks or infrastructure support can substantially reduce relocation costs.

Our experience with Cyden illustrates these strategies effectively. By establishing a new manufacturing facility tailored to the Chinese market, Cyden reduced logistical expenses and achieved closer proximity to its customers. This strategic move, strengthened by local incentives and thorough planning, significantly boosted their EBITDA and served as a model for similar endeavors in the manufacturing sector.

Explore Part 3 of 6 in our series for further insights:

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4. Using Technology and Automation to Enhance EBITDA Performance

In today's digital age, technology and automation can play a pivotal role in boosting EBITDA. By investing in technology, implementing data-driven decision-making processes, and embracing automation solutions tailored to their unique needs, manufacturers can reduce labor costs, enhance productivity, and drive EBITDA growth.

However, it's critical to remember that technology and automation are not always the answer if there is no solid foundation for production processes.  By implementing technology with efficient processes, you are just automating inefficiency.  For example, one of our clients implemented an automated production line system, which had a lower first pass yield (FPY) than the manual line. The lower FPY from automation was due to the poor processes in place with no person to make changes as needed. If they had mistake-proofed and improved the existing process, they would have seen significantly better results. Automation does not equal more effective. It simply means that a machine is completing a process previously guided by a person. If the process is bad, then the automation is bad.  

The successful implementation of technology and automation in manufacturing hinges on the tools and their integration into well-optimized and streamlined processes. Thoughtful planning and strategic deployment are crucial to extract the maximum benefits and avoid the inefficiencies of automating flawed processes. 

Explore Part 4 of 6 in our series for further insights:


5. Cross-Functional Collaboration’s Importance in Maximizing EBITDA Returns

Effective cross-functional collaboration is vital to achieving EBITDA goals in the manufacturing sector. Open communication is crucial; it ensures that different departments work together seamlessly, addressing issues quickly and efficiently. This transparency is vital for smooth operations and quick decision-making.

Defining clear roles for each team member is another critical aspect. When individuals understand their specific responsibilities, it minimizes overlaps and inefficiencies, leading to more streamlined and effective operations. This clarity enhances productivity and morale across teams.

Aligning all team members with a shared vision is equally important. A unified goal ensures that efforts are coordinated and directed towards common manufacturing objectives, whether improving product quality, reducing costs, or enhancing production efficiency. This shared direction helps in resolving conflicts and making decisions effectively.

By fostering these elements of collaboration, manufacturers can significantly improve operational synergy. This streamlines manufacturing processes and contributes positively to EBITDA by reducing inefficiencies and enhancing overall productivity.


6. Continuous Improvement Strategies to Amplify EBITDA Gains

Enhancing EBITDA in manufacturing hinges on a commitment to continuous improvement. Manufacturers can drive incremental enhancements in operations by embracing lean principles and methodologies like Kaizen. This ongoing process targets efficiency, identifying and eliminating waste in production, leading to cost savings and quality improvements.

Employee involvement and engagement are critical in this strategy. Leveraging insights from staff directly involved in production fosters a culture of continuous improvement and boosts performance. Additionally, data-driven decision-making is essential. By analyzing performance data, manufacturers can pinpoint improvement areas for maximum EBITDA impact.


Integrating Strategies for EBITDA Success in Manufacturing

Increasing EBITDA in manufacturing requires a multifaceted approach encompassing operational efficiency, supply chain optimization, strategic relocation, technology adoption, and cross-functional collaboration. Real-world examples from CMC’s previous blogs illustrate how these strategies can drive success and positively impact EBITDA. By continually refining these techniques and embracing a culture of continuous improvement, manufacturers can navigate challenges and seize opportunities to maximize their EBITDA and thrive in today's competitive manufacturing landscape.

What are some strategic approaches you've implemented to increase EBITDA for your factory? Let us know in the comments below.

How To Cut Your Factory Costs Through Quality Improvement Activities eBook Download

Topics: PE Manufacturing

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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