In the face of four years of repeated chaos, manufacturers have grappled with operational reconfigurations, supply chain disruptions, and talent challenges.


As inflation and interest rates are expected to ease in 2024, the Federal Reserve remains cautious, necessitating companies to maintain vigilance and agility in adapting to uncertain environments. While many in the industry have resigned themselves to firefighting as the new normal, this article by TBM CEO, Bill Remy advocates leveraging adaptability lessons to implement forward-looking strategies for increased nimbleness, flexibility, and focus in 2024 and beyond.

The article highlights five key strategies for manufacturers to navigate uncertainties and achieve operational excellence:

  1. Level up Labor Practices: Address the ongoing skills shortage and high turnover by creatively attracting and developing a workforce. Recommendations include involvement in vocational programs and the creation of apprenticeship programs for skilled labor, coupled with reinvesting in improved onboarding and training.

  2. Focus on Productivity: Challenge the status quo and streamline the Order to Cash process, consolidating orders, and refining procurement and production processes to shed costs. Emphasizing the importance of employee input, the strategy involves seeking insights from those on the production line for enhanced productivity.

  3. Mitigate Supply Chain Risk: Counter long lead times and disruptions by reshoring or nearshoring to local markets, calculating the entire landed cost and creating contingency plans with alternative suppliers. The approach aims to nullify labor cost disadvantages with faster lead times, lower shipping costs, and long-term manufacturing stability.

  4. Avoid FOMO with Technology: Encourage a responsible approach to technology adoption, steering clear of the fear of missing out (FOMO) mentality. Prioritize solutions that act as force multipliers and significantly enhance productivity, implementing technology gradually to align with capabilities.

  5. Find Hidden Opportunities in ESG: Recognize the potential for cost-saving opportunities in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs that can be accomplished by implementing lean manufacturing best practices.

This 2024 Manufacturing Outlook article underscores the importance of confronting industry challenges, urging companies to prioritize strategic forecasting and planning. With an emphasis on adopting an agile approach, the article suggests that companies are less likely to be blindsided by the next crisis if they prioritize adaptability over waiting for a break in the action.

This is the year to stop being blindsided by the next crisis and start adopting an agile approach to that will prioritize adaptability over firefighting.   The article underscores the importance of confronting industry challenges, urging companies to prioritize strategic forecasting and planning.

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