What Should You Reveal About Your Manufacturing Process?

The market is the ultimate regulator. Anyone who works for themselves or owns their own business can tell you there’s really no such thing as being your own boss as long as you rely on customers and clients.  Even in manufacturing, they determine if you’re a success or failure.

There’s been an interesting consumer shift happening in the last couple decades or so, which has placed value on transparency.  More and more people want to know where their products come from, how they’re made, what’s in them, who’s putting them together, etc.

Even company affiliations, politics and values concern consumers in ways that wouldn’t have been confronted in the past.  Apart from the benefits provided by a product, customers want peace of mind and reputability from producers.  Ethics, sustainability, employee rights and other concerns now matter as much as product features and customer service.

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There a many reasons why some companies are regarded as the most hated, and others the most loved, but public consensus is potent for better or worse.  While mass opinion won’t make or break a product, it will hurt or help company survival and supremacy.

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Use this new consumer concern to your advantage. The average person now cares a lot more about manufacturing processes, materials, company, practices and more. Don’t view the public as another set of regulators and supervisors to whom you must answer. Instead, they are an audience you can win over.

Manufacturing transparency enables you to not only appeal the businesses and customers you deal with on personal level, it will allow you to connect your company name with trust and honesty. You don’t have to reveal everything in a way that could give your competition an advantage or put your company at risk, but like an interviewee listing skills on a resume, you want to focus on actions and attributes that mean a lot to your prospects and the public.

Consider publishing specifics like the following on your website, in a press release and on your social media profiles. Your colleagues and potential clients will take note in a good way.

  • Positive policies, programs, perks and activities regarding your employer-employee relationship.
  • Positive hiring policies that concern veterans, the disabled, senior citizens and other groups that are still overlooked as top hiring choices.
  • Your facility, including your production floor, administrative offices and common areas where your employees work and do business everyday. Your employee lounge does have to look as cool as Google’s cafe, but a clean, modern manufacturing facility sets a good impression.
  • Any steps your taking to lessen your environmental impact and improve sustainability efforts, whether through your products, services or basic company practices.  You may not be producing solar panels or hybrid cars, but you can still talk about the steps you took/are taking to become a lean manufacture or simply cutdown on paper use with your new electronic inventory system.
  • Open houses and training programs that welcome new talent and build careers, such as participation in Manufacturing Day or internships you offer.
  • Charitable actions, contributions or external investments in people and programs.  This can include annual company gifts or scholarships.
  • Employee spotlights that celebrate who works for you, what skills they bring to the table and how they contribute to your company.
  • Open knowledge practices or contributions to research or open source resources.
  • Problems you’re working to solve through the products you produce and research you’re doing.  You don’t have to reveal all the juicy details —just enough to let others know what you’re doing to make the world a better place.

Article Sources:
http://www.forbes.com
http://www.businessinsider.com
http://www.industryweek.com

Lisa Myers
 

Is a blogger with an interest for all things mechanical. She is a full-time mom with three active boys, who loves encouraging them to explore the world of science and engineering. They spend a lot of time together playing with Legos.

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Shane

The next phase of investment in the factory of the future includes a more transparent manufacturing model. Beyond just automation projects, it’s believed that data that goes into making products can be a new way to engage with customers. I can imagine customers no longer waiting to hear if you shipped their product on time, but being able to “see their product being built on time. That’s hard to do when companies outsource their manufacturing to far off places, not recognizing the hidden costs of long supply chains.

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Hazel

I think it is vitally important for manufacturing companies to maintain a measure of transparency to their customers. This can only help to develop more confidence on the part of your buyers. Customers buy with more confidence when there is transparency and this also helps to create customer loyalty. Perhaps this is the trend which led to the revival of this industry which has been growing over the past ten years. Let’s hope this trend is not a trend but is here to stay.

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