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Optimization of Manufacturing Processes: for faster, more flexible and more competitive industries

04 January 2023
Article by Catarina Cardão, business development coordinator.

The status quo has its days numbered: the dynamism of the markets, as well as repeated unexpected disruptions and their respective impact on prices and value chains, have shaken sectors that, until now, appeared to be unshakable, such as the automotive and aeronautical sectors. Today, it's therefore essential to achieve a strategic balance between present and future sustainability, investing both in operational performance and in the development and innovation of manufacturing processes.

In the search for effective solutions to increasingly unusual challenges that require contortionism games, companies do not always find off-the-shelf answers in the market, and attempts to solve them alone contain a high degree of uncertainty. The limitations of time and knowledge, even on the part of dedicated professionals, make it difficult to carry out and speed up the implementation of actions, which, in turn, prolong situations of inefficiency and waste, and represent bitter costs. It's an increasingly demanding reality, which imposes alternative approaches.

Increase productivity: complex and far-reaching challenge, but possible

Whether the goal is to increase productivity and reduce costs of existing processes, change them or create new ones, there is always room for improvement. From the processing of raw materials, through the various manufacturing stages, to shipping, there are many variables that influence costs (and profit!). Let's look at some of the most common inefficiencies in the industry, and how they can turn into opportunities:
  • Old equipment that suffers frequent breakdowns, resulting in production line stoppages and accumulation of work-in-progress inventory – a sunk cost that can be leveraged through retrofitting
  • Manual processes, demanding for the worker and very dependent on the availability of human resources, which can be leveraged by the digitization of processes
  • Unnecessary or inefficient energy consumption, which leads to ever-increasing costs – can be reduced or used in another part of the process1
  • Long setups due to the manual art of trial-and-error calibration – which can be improved by automating and/or digitizing the setup, which stores optimal parameter combinations
  • Manual quality control subject to human error and difficulty in identifying the origin of defects – a process that benefits from greater visibility of information and production steps
  • Rigid production processes, little reactive to unforeseen changes in product specifications, small series and mass customization, new product features, innovative products, or even expansion of production capacity – can be an opportunity for modularity and digitization
  • Too much time wasted moving material, linking different stages of the sequential process – which with better operations management can be optimised.
Where to start?

Identified inefficiencies, outlined opportunities. And now?

The first stage in this type of project, one of the most critical and relevant, is the survey of needs and requirements and their transformation into objectives. This is because, in an improvement project, the priorities, requirements and needs of different teams are often contradictory, increasing the effort and time required to reach a clearly defined plan – and which sometimes does not even get off the ground.

This plan must be customized to each reality, and to the investment of resources that the company is willing to make. Its implementation must be monitored, to ensure effective progress, ensure compliance with requirements, and also to train the players and overcome the teams' natural resistance to change.

From challenge to holistic solution, in partnership with companies of all sizes

Each case is different, and each company has its strategy, its context and its different way of balancing risk and opportunity. That's why we at INEGI work together with companies as partners, providing access to knowledge and a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team with experience in optimizing manufacturing processes, delivering a clear action plan, in a technological consultancy approach.

Among the solutions we work on, the simulation of industrial (and product) manufacturing processes allows us to foresee different work scenarios and, by learning during the consolidation process, improve the final result, saving time and money. This is why it's recognized by 76% of companies as one of the most impactful technologies for business success2.

The current acceleration of digital transformation is also fundamental to improve operational efficiency3, reducing setup times, increasing the availability and visibility of structured information and consequently traceability, and increasing competitiveness accordingly. In 2022, 76% of respondents in the manufacturing industry stated in a survey that they planned further increases in operational efficiency through investments in digital transformation, which connect machines and automate processes, and help to respond to disruptions4.

Also particularly advantageous is retrofitting -  because it reduces capital investment and is a more sustainable option than buying new equipment. In parallel, a correct definition of plans and/or digitization of industrial maintenance, adapted to the parameters and technical specificities of the equipment that may be less obvious, but also avoids unforeseen stops and excessive equipment wear.

Likewise, correct management of the energy consumed can have a huge impact on the monthly bill. Carrying out energy diagnoses, studies on the use of industrial thermal or alternative energy sources can increase the energy efficiency of processes or industrial equipment.

No less important, the question still arises: how to make the flow of materials and people more efficient? The answer lies in the study of operations management, which covers the design and statistical control of operations, processes and industrial and logistical layouts, integrates support processes (such as planning) and the definition of good practices.

Finally, I highlight other technology consulting activities that, based on our experience, can be helpful:
  • technical-economic feasibility studies for the implementation of a new process or expansion of production capacity
  • support in the selection of suppliers and the creation of specifications for the acquisition of equipment or raw materials
  • or simply, a technological, unbiased opinion
With this approach, we transform risks into advantages, laying the groundwork for optimizing production processes, transferring knowledge, improving working conditions and employee satisfaction5. We pave the way for faster, more flexible and competitive manufacturing, moving from «it's always been done this way» to a confident «this is how it's done now».

Related Pages

Consulting | Technologies for Manufacture


1 The Circularity Gap Report 2019, Ellen MacArthur Foundation research, WBCSD research, McKinsey research,

2 "2020 Trends in Global Manufacturing”, Smart Manufacturing Engineering (SME), , página 15 consultada a 25/Ago/2022

"2020 CIO Survey - Industrial Manufacturing industry insights”, KPMG, consultada a 25/Ago/2022

"2022 manufacturing industry outlook”, Deloitte,, página 3, consultada a 25/Ago/2022

5 "Augmented Workforce: Empowering People, Transforming Manufacturing”, World Economic Forum white paper in collaboration with University of Cambridge, January 2022, consultada a 25/Ago/2022

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