A combination of efficient manufacturing processes, automated inspection, and standardized working practices minimizes waste and drives down costs.
When most people think of saving costs in the automotive manufacturing industry, they might imagine assembly lines of human workers being replaced by large, industrial robotic arms that can do more work in a fraction of the time.
While this is true in some circumstances, it’s also true that large robotic automation solutions can also be costly. And not only that but there are also other more effective ways to help lower automotive manufacturing costs without having huge investments or to sacrifice quality or performance—especially where it matters most.
In this post, we will discuss some of the more practical and sustainable methods automotive manufacturers might utilize in order to help save costs related to the production process. From DFM to modular design and much more, we will cover a handful of cost-saving methods of production that also help to reduce the creation of waste byproducts.
Design for Manufacturability (DFM)
When products are designed for manufacturability, the designer considers all of the intricate components and pieces that contribute to the whole and hopes to engineer a design that is simpler and more affordable to manufacture on a larger scale.
DFM initiatives work best during the planning or pre-planning stages of a project since the purpose is to optimize a particular design before beginning to produce it in mass production. Some methods that DFM designers utilize to assess the manufacturability of a certain product might include breaking the product down into its individual components and looking at similar products (made previously or made by competitors).
By approaching the design process from a different perspective, designers can identify ways to make the product better by looking at how other engineers and designers solved a problem.
For instance, are there different materials that could be utilized, either materials that are more abundant and more affordable or higher quality? Are there certain aspects of the product’s environment that could be improved or altered to optimize the product’s manufacturability?
This methodology involves making the most out of the available resources in order to reduce waste by-products while simultaneously attempting to maximize efficiency and productivity—hence the term lean. Lean manufacturing principles might require a scrupulous eye to identify the root causes of problems or areas of wastefulness within your manufacturing process.
A similar methodology known as the Kaizen process (also known as the rapid or continual improvement process or simply change for the better) can help manufacturers improve productivity, eliminate unnecessary waste, and continually improve upon the organization and processes involved.
Modular design is a type of manufacturing approach that allows for products to be developed in smaller components known as modules in order to allow for greater flexibility and interchangeability with other compatible modular pieces.
Modular designs are generally thought of as more beneficial because a larger product (like an automobile, for instance) can be manufactured by assembling smaller, modular components that are each independently designed and produced.
Modularity also allows for greater flexibility within the manufacturing process; modular pieces can be swapped out relatively easily when necessary, and they also allow for greater customization capabilities.
This is especially helpful for auto manufacturers who may want to offer upgrades or special versions of certain models. And modular design can help manufacturers produce these products more quickly and cost-effectively.
Platform sharing (also known as shared platforms) refers to the process by which auto manufacturers are able to design and produce fewer parts for different vehicle models. This can help optimize the inventory process and allow manufacturers to utilize various platforms across numerous products.
In the automotive industry, one of the most common components often associated with shared platforming is the vehicle’s chassis, but there are other vehicle components, like the drivetrain, suspension, floor plan, etc., that might also fall under the shared platform category.
Supply Chain Optimization
One of the best ways to improve cost savings in the manufacturing industry is to optimize the company’s supply chain. For most organizations that mass-produce goods like automobiles, supply chain issues can cause numerous headaches and delays and increase costs at the least opportune moment.
As many manufacturers continue to suffer from microchip shortages and other material shortages, it has become increasingly important for automotive manufacturers to optimize their supply chains to both improve efficiency as much as possible and potentially save on costs associated with production materials. Committing to establishing and using second sources is a good example.
To help reduce supply chain costs for your organization, you might also consider working with local vendors and manufacturers. While overseas manufacturers can sometimes offer lower prices, it may also take more time for those components to be shipped and arrive, and as such, they are more susceptible to global supply chain issues. Truncating your organization’s supply chain network can also help reduce your carbon footprint.
Many people learned about standardization efforts near the beginning of the industrial revolution, but standardization is every bit as important for modern manufacturers as it was for the very first factories.
Standardization refers to the efforts involved in ensuring that products and their components are produced according to certain standards regarding dimensions, quality, and composition.
As many businesses, even those outside the auto-manufacturing industry know, consistency can be a key component of success, and standardization efforts seek to underscore the importance of consistency in manufacturing processes.
Both suppliers and purchasers can benefit from the predictability and consistency afforded by standardization efforts. Standardizing vehicle components can help reduce costs as well as the volume of suppliers needed to ensure you have sufficient production materials.
Additionally, long-term benefits of standardization include the streamlining of product and component inventories as well as cost savings from simplified training initiatives.
How Automotive Manufacturers Can Streamline their Operations
While this list of methodologies and techniques may not have been exhaustive, there are certainly some invaluable ones that automotive manufacturers could utilize in order to help save costs and streamline their operations.
Bead Electronics through its cost-effective custom interconnect pins and contact solutions is a valuable supplier for lowering costs without sacrificing performance.
Modern businesses are under increasing pressure to accomplish more and produce more with fewer and fewer resources; by implementing one or more of these methodologies and techniques, your organization can improve its overall efficiency while reducing costs where possible, all without having to sacrifice quality or performance.