What Do Manufacturing Consultants Do?

D. Nelson

Manufacturing businesses are organizations that assemble goods for consumer and industrial use. As in most industries, manufacturing companies must compete with other businesses for clients, by keeping up with technological developments, market trends and demands, and offering competitive prices. Manufacturing consultants are professionals who specialize in advising manufacturing businesses how to best streamline processes, cut back on waste, and earn greater profits. Consultants normally work for firms that serve a number of different manufacturing companies.

Consultants help manufacturers improve efficiency, quality, and safety.
Consultants help manufacturers improve efficiency, quality, and safety.

Streamlining is an important tenet of efficient manufacturing. This term refers to the speed and smoothness with which steps of a process follow one another. When a manufacturing company is properly streamlined, there is little delay between stages of a process, significantly cutting costs. Manufacturing consultants often analyze communications between the various departments of an organization and suggest ways in which they can be optimized through the use of new technologies and protocols.

A manufacturing industry consultant might study the ways in which 3D printing will change small parts manufacturing.
A manufacturing industry consultant might study the ways in which 3D printing will change small parts manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing consultants specialize in helping organizations to cut back on all kinds of waste. Unused or misused equipment, overproduction, wait time between steps of a process, and poor deployment of labor are all causes of waste. A lean consultant might point out where cost is unnecessarily high and assist managers in restructuring certain business models and strategies.

An important function of manufacturing consultants is to increase profitability of their clients. While this can be done through the use of improved streamlining and lean manufacturing techniques, it can also be accomplished through market research. Market research is a practice in which surveys are distributed to members of certain demographics of a customer base, inquiring about their needs, preferences, and available incomes. A consultant can use this information to help his or her client optimize marketing strategies so that campaigns can reach the right customers.

Tracking the behaviors of competitor companies is another key function of many manufacturing consultants. A consultant might study how much competitors produce, how satisfied their clients are with their services, and how they price items and services. The behaviors of a competitor can enable a consultant to understand which kinds of pricing models and marketing campaign could be most effective for a client.

A manufacturing consultant might also assist in project management. This is a kind of management that focuses on development and distribution of one particular product or service as opposed to whole organizational operations. In this context, a consultant can advise a company how much to produce, what kind of inventory to keep, and when various stages of a sales process should occur.

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