The full picture: How to identify—and overcome—manufacturing inefficiencies

For organizations that rely on multiple manufacturing processes to construct a finished product or product line, purchasing and processing metal is no easy feat. Not only do you have to navigate the volatile and complex metal supply chain, but you have to make sure the metal you purchase is processed in a way that effectively meets your manufacturing needs.

Whether you choose to outsource your processing or tackle it in-house, you face a host of challenges. The more a part moves through the manufacturing process, the more likely you are to create or encounter inefficiencies. Every time raw material is shipped, machined, polished or stamped, coordination is required. A lack of coordination—either due to multiple suppliers or multiple processes—can lead to longer time to market, increased costs, increased risks, decreased product quality or all the above.


The benefits of a bird’s eye view

So how do you get around these obstacles to ensure your supply chain is operating in the most cost-effective manner? Well, it helps if you can get a clear view of the full manufacturing picture. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in over 160 years in the metals business, it’s that most of the time manufacturing inefficiencies run deeper than you think. Every step and every process makes a difference in timing, quality and cost. Our broad expertise, which spans all areas of the metal processing landscape, gives us a bird’s-eye view of your business and a unique ability to problem solve.

For instance, one manufacturer came to us to reduce costs on metal tubing. As we delved deeper into the company’s tubing challenges, however, we learned the company was also overspending on additional materials—including aluminum sheet and stainless plate—and suffering from supply chain instability and scalability issues. Not only were we able to provide them with better parts sourcing options, but we introduced them to the benefits of additive manufacturing to help reduce waste and streamline their production.

In another case, a fabrication company was looking for a global supplier of raw materials—a vendor that could consistently supply quality plate and bar at a competitive price. As we learned more about their business needs, it became clear that they could reduce time to market and cost by machining from a custom extrusion rather than a block of plate. We also discovered that they were outsourcing their finishing processes to a company across the country. Because we were able to offer both extrusions and finished extruded parts through our extended enterprise, we helped the company finish its product dramatically faster with more consistent quality.


Uncovering hidden opportunity

Obviously, these are just two examples and the challenges your company faces will likely differ dramatically. The moral here, however, is that hidden costs and supply chain inefficiencies add up quickly and can dramatically impact your bottom line. That’s why it’s important to view your business holistically rather than looking at metals purchasing in isolation. By zooming out, you’ll likely see opportunities for integrated supply chain optimization.

At Samuel, we cover a lot of space in the metal manufacturing and processing realm, which is why we often refer to our full spectrum of services as the “Samuel Stack”. By “stacking” our vertically integrated businesses together, we’re uniquely positioned to offer the expertise you need to gain a holistic view of your organization’s processes. Ultimately, this allows you to both uncover inefficiencies and optimize your spend. To learn more about end-to-end market solutions, contact us.