Manufacturing at Work
- October 22, 2012
For job shops across Canada, staying competitive is essential to their survival.
In the past a competitiveness strategy might have required decent execution in one area, but in today’s world a shop has to fire on all cylinders, getting the most out of its workers and equipment to better serve its customers.
A shop also has to be aware of global trends, even if its market is its own back yard. That’s because a strong dollar puts immediate pressure on any business – even those without U.S. exposure. Given the complexity of the supply chain, a strong currency can hit home to regional shops, too. As it stands, the U.S. accounts for over 70% of Canada’s goods and services, with almost 62% of our imports coming from the U.S.
Therefore, to survive – and thrive – a shop has to stay lean and know where to re-invest. Inevitably, this requires a clear eye on how to balance machining and labour requirements to deliver the best results.
“Our focus to stay competitive today is on quality, machining strategy, and efficiency,” says Toni Hansen President of Aalbers Tool and Mold in Oldcastle, Ontario. “Simply put, we look for innovative ideas to save costs, increase productivity, while increasing quality to the customer.”
And a strong currency isn’t always the enemy, because it means efficiency investments are cheaper. It also means innovation can be married with tried-and-true maxims: know your customer; keep quality top-of-mind; and motivate your people.
“We give raises for performance,” says Craig Beal, owner of Number One Machining in Dieppe, New Brunswick. “And that works.”
Labour is an important factor, but also something of a wild card. Competitiveness is enhanced if qualified people can deliver when the crunch is on. Training is part of this mix, as is making sure that workers on the floor are well-tuned to customer requirements. Too many employees see themselves as working for the boss, and not the customer.
And when it comes to staying competitive, the customer is always king.
Job Shop Profiles