How to go about low-volume manufacturing jobs – tips that will help save money and keep the process moving

While there is always lots of focus on companies who are involved in mass production of high-quantity orders, not every order out there is going to garner those kinds of big numbers. There are plenty of companies who require low-volume manufacturing, which means they need to produce smaller numbers of maybe only a few thousand or a few hundred units. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with low-volume manufacturing jobs, and the company can still be very successful with this approach, if not done correctly it can end up costing more money in the end.

Low-volume manufacturing is a process that features a number of unique challenges. Being aware of these ahead of time and having a way to deal with these challenges, overcome them, and then turn them into positives, can be the difference between success and failure. Here we’ll take a look at some tips and advice for those taking on low-manufacturing jobs and contracts, and who want to be sure they go about it in the most cost-effective and productive way.

Sometimes low-volume amounts to cost savings
The common belief that people have about low-volume manufacturing is that it will ultimately cost more money. Much of this is due to the fact you won’t be buying your materials in bulk, which can save money. Here’s the thing, in the manufacturing world, the cost per unit is determined by the material, not the quantity that you are buying.

So, what this means is that you won’t save money to buy your material in bulk because it comes down to the unit price. In fact, the opposite can be true. Because you don’t have to make such a massive investment in materials, you can actually keep your expenses a bit lower and more manageable. This can be even more useful when your company is just starting out and you don’t have much in terms of capital. There’s also the fact you won’t need such a huge facility to store all those large quantities of materials.

Outsource to a company that specialises in low volume
Another way you can get around the project becoming too expensive is to outsource the job. Perhaps only a small portion of your projects are low-volume, or maybe building a manufacturing plant isn’t what you want to get involved in. If that’s the case, it usually makes sense to outsource the job. Now here’s the key, you need to find a company that specialises in low-volume manufacturing, as not all do.

Take, for example, 3ERP which is designed to act as a one-stop shop from rapid prototyping to low-volume manufacturing, and even development services. This company is well-known for its ability to take on injection molding, CNC machining and, of course, the prototyping services already mentioned.

Not all prototyping companies have a fast turnaround where they can take all your ideas and designs and then transform them into actual products for real-world use in a matter of days. Look for rapid prototyping services that can be completed in just three days, which means you will have something to show to your client extremely fast.

Take advantage of the fact you can get to market faster
If you’re looking for ways to reach the market faster and take advantage of current trends and demands, then low-volume manufacturing can be the best plan. Even if you generally focus on high-quantity jobs, when you’re in a hurry to get a product to the market, low-volume can be the way to go. With low volume, the lead times are much shorter, which means your product could be on shelves in a few days, weeks, or months.

Being able to hit the shelves fast and reach consumers can again determine the success or failure of your company. If you can be first to hit the shelves with a particular product that is in demand, you will essentially have no competition until others catch up.

Make sure the supply chain is working effectively
It’s also important you take a full and in-depth look at your supply chain. Effective supply chain management means that you are managing the distribution of various goods and materials from the very start of the process right to the end product. It involves your production costs, the process involved, your profits, the way you interact with customers and your suppliers, the profit margin, and more. It takes everything in account from the day-to-day operations to the bigger picture. In other words, it looks at your company from a strategic standpoint.

Now because there are so many different factors and elements involved in the supply chain, it’s only natural that it changes over time. What this means is that you need to expect changes will occur, and you need to identify areas that need attention and need some tweaking in the supply chain. Making sure that supply chain is always running at its optimum level should be a top priority. Each time you change your product offerings, a supplier, the customer, the cost of materials, or even the volume of units being manufactured, you need to go back and look at how it’s going to affect the supply chain.

Use technology to your advantage
The final tip is to make sure you are using technology to your advantage. There have been so many advances in technology that has really pushed the manufacturing business to new heights and both high and low-volume manufacturers can benefit from it.

No need to shy away from low-volume manufacturing
If you have been on the fence as to whether or not low-volume manufacturing makes sense for your existing business or start-up, it’s important to understand the various ways you can make it work in a more effective manner. Being aware of its unique challenges helps you to overcome them without issue, and then prosper in the end since you will have a better understanding of what is needed to be successful.