No one wants to start 2023 on a sour note, but to make a point, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario for a moment.
Imagine that you’re a mid-sized commercial glass manufacturer. Despite a few challenges in 2022, you had a good year. So good, in fact, that you made the investment in a new automated insulating glass (IG) line to maximize your production potential and meet demand. Maybe it’s your first line. Maybe it’s your second or third. In any case, it’s an investment in your own growth and prosperous future.
So, let’s say your new line is being installed this month. Your equipment supplier will remain on hand to see that production is up and running and that your equipment is properly calibrated and in good working condition.
Then, they’ll leave. And what happens next is critical.
Successful Automation Doesn’t Happen by Accident
It can be easy to fall into the trap of viewing an automated line as a money printer. The promise of increased production figures, all accomplished with less labor, is an attractive one. But the reality is that an automated line is a sophisticated piece of equipment, and making the most of your investment takes the right skills and right mindsets.
For example: Are your maintenance teams up to the task of keeping your new equipment in proper working condition over the long term? Do they know the proper best practices to ensure you’re running the same quality glass in 12 months that you were in month one? Are they willing and eager to learn about how your new equipment works and how they can maximize its potential?
How about your raw materials inventory—are you ordering enough to meet your new production targets? Are your shipping operations capable of getting more units out the door?
These are just some of the questions you need answers to, or else you might find yourself wondering why your major investment isn’t delivering the return you might have expected. The good news is that our industry is a collaborative one. Still, unless you’re one of the major commercial glass manufacturers who are operating dozens of automated lines, there’s a possibility that you don’t have all of the required expertise under your roof.
And that’s OK—because in an ideal scenario, you should be able to find support from some of your vendor partners. It’s likely your spacer supplier has knowledge of how to best run their product on the type of equipment you’ve just installed. They may be able to provide you with additional tips and best practices on how to get the most out of it.
Leaning On Your Vendor Network
The truth is that the right network of trusted suppliers can bring significant value to your operations, and I think that’s something that will only become truer this year and beyond. The pandemic threw the need for flexibility and tailored support into sharp relief over the past several years. Today, it’s continuing to manifest in all different ways across the B2B value chain.
Recent research from McKinsey shows that modern B2B customers want more channels, convenience and a more personalized experience from their suppliers. New ways of communication and collaboration, which were made mandatory by widespread COVID policies, now have the potential to deepen engagement between B2B buyers and their sellers. Perhaps you have a training need in your facility.
A vendor supplier may be able to provide you with a virtual lunch-and-learn where once the only option was thought to be a time-consuming, on-site instruction course. Or let’s say you’re facing an equipment issue—you may be able to get in touch with a technical support resource more quickly and easily to help diagnose and solve a problem.
So, even if my automated line example was irrelevant to your operations specifically (maybe you’re an old pro at automation, or maybe your niche requires manual application), the point remains that leaning on your trusted suppliers may bring you unexpected benefits. Bringing in outside experience can shed new light on any problem, helping you remain successful this year and beyond.