Long term production runs have been the de facto manufacturing standard for centuries. Once assembly machinery has been set up and configured, the goal has always been to produce a high product volume with no changes for an extended period. While this serves more extensive manufacturing operations, the high volumes and subsequent investment in materials and labor are overkill for smaller companies.
Before examining the benefits of short-run production, it is essential to understand that this does not necessarily refer to time or even specific quantities. The term applies to manufacturing bursts, such as for seasonal products, prototype development, or be used when raw material costs fall to a point where it makes financial sense to produce an item for wider margins rapidly. These, when combined with modern digital technology, have served to make short production runs highly beneficial.
Improved Cost and Inventory Controls
Perhaps the most attractive benefits of short-run production are seen in its ability to lower production costs while blending in precision inventory controls. Budgetary variables in short-run production are controllable and scalable, maximizing flexibility within a product lifecycle from the design phase forward. Many factors contribute to the cost savings in short-run manufacturing, including:
- Reduction in physical manufacturing capacity
- Streamlined strategic material purchasing.
- Drop-in warehousing and storage space requirements
- Increased flexibility in the design and testing phases of a product life cycle
- Implement modern digital manufacturing tools, such as 3D printing
- Time-saving ability to shelve or refresh a product when necessary
These benefits introduce savings in controlling inventory, avoiding overstock and cost overruns, and establishing just-in-time or on-demand manufacturing options without sacrificing quality controls or changes in market response times. Leveraging short-run production to create marketing campaign ramp-ups and a sense of exclusivity for seasonal or special event products will reduce inventory concerns.
Take a Nimble Approach to Product Lifecycle Management
Product lifecycle management is one of the most challenging aspects of manufacturing and can determine a product’s profitability. In long-run production, you lose the ability to quaintly change gears in the face of market changes or when a customer requests modifications. This loss can potentially leave you with a warehouse full of products that must sell at drastically reduced price points.
Short-run production benefits offer a cost-saving edge for life cycle management, especially with product lines that customers anticipate as frequently changed. With the risk of overproduction and production cycle accessibility removed, your business becomes highly adaptable. Reducing the stress on production and distribution logistics opens the door to a data-driven, nimble product development strategy that makes accommodating present market conditions efficient and successful.
Short-run production places your design and engineering teams in a better position to stay fluid with customer requests and directly respond to evolving market trends. The use of modern CAD software will present you with greater flexibility during the design and testing process, even to the point of allowing customers to participate in feature testing from anywhere. This collaboration makes the customer an integral part of lifecycle management and builds their trust in your processes.
Flexibility with Customer Requests
Shortening your product runs and making them more manageable will allow you to focus more on the customer. The cost savings that naturally occur in a short-run manufacturing environment can quickly be passed down to the customer, as can design and modification flexibility, keeping your products aligned with market fluctuations. But there is more to this approach, especially when you have an eye on providing consistent quality and exceptional customer service.
The manageability of short-run production will make it easier to generate new product variations that can be tested with existing customers without sacrificing valuable manufacturing cycles. The flexibility built into short-run production will allow you to expand into new markets, providing rapid and cost-effective market testing before committing to larger investments of time and money. This enables you to continue to wow your current customers while developing new strategic partnerships to fuel growth.
Presenting your customers with malleable product options provides all parties with new opportunities to develop cutting-edge product enhancements. As discussed earlier, the quick production of seasonal or limited edition variations won’t require any additional financial or time investments. New partnerships can reveal innovative options to produce with your customers and the engineering staff’s co-investment.
Start Seeing the Benefits of Short Run Production
Enacting a short-run production strategy requires you to have all of the organizational pieces in place. From design and production to marketing and support, your project processes must be as flexible and efficient as your manufacturing process. Quality cannot be sacrificed, and neither can your ability to deliver products, with modifications, that your customers expect to have at their convenience.
The most successful use cases of short-run production efforts involve the support and industry prowess of an experienced manufacturing partner. A third party partner will be well versed in the cutting-edge tools and methodologies used to produce and deploy products in a short-run manufacturing scenario.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.