How to upgrade legacy operations to improve manufacturing scalability

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Taking steps to improve manufacturing scalability is crucial for responding effectively to market fluctuations and accommodating growth. IMAGE: Matter USA

By Mike Hoegerl, Regional Sales Manager at Master Fluid Solutions

Manufacturers that stay reliant on manual, legacy processes are increasingly at risk in the market. Inefficiencies, limited adaptability, and higher operating costs can quickly sink customer satisfaction, make manufacturers less resilient in the face of disruption, and lower overall profit margins. It’s getting to the point where leaders need to embrace systematic growth or risk losing market share.

Taking steps to improve manufacturing scalability is crucial for responding effectively to market fluctuations and accommodating growth. Fortunately, there are tools and support available to make operations more scalable, and at less cost and disruption than ever before. It’s just a matter of implementing the right growth strategies and technology to help teams leave behind the legacy processes holding back their productivity.

What is manufacturing scalability?

Manufacturing scalability is a system of processes, procedures, and KPIs that enables manufacturers to continually assess and make adjustments to their business. This encompasses resources, supply chain, inventory, or investments that allow manufacturers to meet increasing demands and grow without compromising quality or efficiency.

To improve scalability, manufacturers need to streamline and optimize production processes, reduce waste, and increase their capacity to handle higher volumes of work as needed. Every step of the way, leaders need to use a system of procedures and KPIs to assess their operation so they can further improve scalability continually.

Increasingly, improving manufacturing scalability isn’t just an aspiration, but a requirement. The need to scale shows up in myriad ways for both executives and frontline workers. For example, if leaders of any medium- and small-sized operations continually fall short of goals or employees on the shop floor struggle daily with unsolved workflow problems, it indicates a scalability problem.

How to Improve Manufacturing Scalability

Today, manufacturing scalability is all but synonymous with digital transformation, driven by the need to compete on a global level and join the movement into Industry 4.0. But it requires more than buying software and installing robots. Stakeholders need to take a strategic, step-by-step approach to scale effectively and achieve ROI:

1.    Leverage Your People

Improving manufacturing scalability starts with a decision by the stakeholders to understand this is a journey — and that journey requires a dedicated and motivated team. Immediately, they need to seek out expertise on improving scalability, ideally by hiring new talent who’ve been through the process at other companies rather than leveraging third-party consultants. Working with talent who have already been through these transitions is one of the fastest ways to incorporate that knowledge into your organization.


Getting your existing team on board with change is critical as well. After the initial hurdles of implementing new processes, improved scalability will make most jobs much easier and more streamlined. Highlight the win-win nature of manufacturing scalability to help garner not only buy-in, but also enthusiasm from your team.

2.              Assess current capacity

To understand the current challenges you face with scaling, you must first determine how much and how quickly your operation can produce, given your current processes and resources. Invest in sensors and data capture tools to install on your production line and throughout your operation.


These additions will help you gather data and identify tangible KPIs around your operations’ performance, such as throughput, scrap rate, tool life, and coolant consumption. As a result, your business will create more visibility around areas that need improvement and immediately point to potential solutions, such as reconfiguring your shop layout for more streamlined workflows or upgrading to better cutting fluid.

3.              Analyze demand scenarios

Scaling is about improving adaptability as much as productivity. Imagining and analyzing demand scenarios helps stakeholders anticipate and prepare for different types of situations they might run into based on shifting market conditions or overcoming growth challenges.


The best tool to utilize for this is to ask a series of “what if” questions, inviting dialogue about vulnerabilities in your operation and finding strategies to mitigate risks. For example, “what if” you get a high volume of unexpected orders from existing or new customers, or “what if” a crucial supplier suddenly goes out of business?

4.              Invest in capacity building

Productivity and efficiency in manufacturing are the sum of three elements and how well they work together:


  • Machinery and equipment
  • Employees
  • Manufacturing materials


Company leaders should invest in all three of these elements to improve their capabilities. Upgrade production management software and implement robotics and other forms of automation on the line where possible to improve efficiency. Create training programs to upskill employees and grow their knowledge base so they can provide more value to your company. Lastly, invest in higher quality supplies like coolant with a lower total cost of ownership to streamline production and reduce costs.

5.              Mitigate supply chain risk

With so much disruption happening on the geopolitical front, a great deal of improving manufacturing scalability depends on mitigating supply chain risk. Stakeholders should carefully assess existing suppliers and monitor their ongoing performance.


It’s critical to establish backup suppliers and build a solid relationship with them to minimize the impact of disruption. Taking a collaborative approach to supplier relationship management improves communication and coordination so there’s less chance of unexpected delays or quality issues.

Building a Company That Prioritizes Manufacturing Scalability

Improving manufacturing scalability is necessary to continue competing in the evolving industry landscape, but it can also help create a company culture that’s more enjoyable to participate in and more naturally aligned for growth. The automation that streamlines operations enough for scaling helps increase job satisfaction by freeing employees from dull and repetitive work so they can focus on more engaging and high-value activities. More importantly, scaling creates more tangible goals for workers to align around achieving, improving team engagement and collaboration.


From virtually every perspective, improving manufacturing scalability has the potential to improve profit margins and increase job satisfaction and employee engagement. The sooner you take this to heart, the sooner you can begin investing in changes and building a more resilient future for your company.


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