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image - How Muraflex reacted quickly to maintain the shortest Lead Times in the Industry

How Muraflex reacted quickly to maintain the shortest Lead Times in the Industry

With all that’s been happening in the world, we need reliability and quick-thinking more than ever. Here's how Muraflex maintained Lead Times and accelerated productivity, deep into a global pandemic.

Muraflex's Strategies for maintaining efficient Lead Times in manufacturing

It’s no secret that there’s been a pervasive level of anxiety and uncertainty in the past two COVID-ridden years. It has been particularly challenging for manufacturers who depend on the reliable delivery of their inputs. At Muraflex, however, we were able to successfully secure lead times. A little foresight can go a long way: Muraflex’s risk-management plan helped us react promptly and make quick decisions to secure lead times.  

Maintaining short lead times has been a priority for industries all over the world. They help clients rely on promised delivery, manufacturers anticipate and manage delays, and keep everyone working on the same page.  

Keeping lead times short involves a few tricks and a lot of dedication. In this article, we will explore four steps to securing short lead times, particularly in the manufacturing business. 


Strong Supply Chains 

Just as Muraflex prioritizes maintaining good relationships with its clients, we also invest in positive partnerships with our suppliers. As a manufacturing company in demountable walls that prides itself on beautifying office spaces, we recognize the importance of respecting all the people we work with. We all know that happy employees produce better work. Similarly, suppliers who feel valued are more eager to collaborate, provide better service, and stay ahead of deadlines.  

The choice to support North American businesses and suppliers has also kept operations reliable and accessible. The combination of commitment to European aesthetics and North American operations is the golden formula of Muraflex’s fast-paced success. Unlike so many other industries, Muraflex was able to circumvent delays and obstacles in terms of transport of materials during the COVID-19 pandemic. While flights and ships worldwide were halted, we had suppliers within reach during a global lockdown and afterwards.  

Another advantage of selecting suppliers in North America is the ability to meet them in person, with all necessary sanitary measures during the pandemic. In this way, Muraflex and manufacturers can develop human interaction rather than deal with data on a screen. This makes the process of purchase and creation far more organic. The potential option to meet in person also eases the managements of disagreements, misunderstandings and confusions. We can also better ensure the quality of a product when it’s within sight. This also makes it easier to modify products and fulfill lead times as we go along.  

Another factor to consider is maintaining business with multiple suppliers that produce the inputs and offer materials needed for the production of a product. Muraflex collaborates with several companies that make aluminum, glass, and various types of hardware. If one of our suppliers runs out of stock, we have others to turn to. Thanks to our excellent infrastructure with state of the art automated and technological tools, we are always up to date with our suppliers, clients, and teams. This is also a key way to prevent delays. 


Operational Excellence 

Good businesses solve problems as they come. Great businesses tackle them before they even arise.  

Respecting and valuing your employees and partners is encapsulated by a bigger concept we know as operational excellence. Over the years, Muraflex has designed and built its constantly-evolving operational model, proving that it is one that works. Attention is paid to every aspect, from clear communication with clients and suppliers, to high-end automation and technology. We also take care to train our staff to know the ins and outs of Muraflex so that all the departments are in thorough collaboration with each other. Thanks to our myriad of experience, we have a strong hold of how to handle day-to-day business as well as disruptions.  

A healthy operational system means that the motions of a business are well-oiled and keep moving even in times of labor shortages or crises. A concrete BCP (business continuity plan) means there are no slowdowns in procedures. A good BCP also includes a sharp foresight. The recent pandemic caused a worldwide disruption of architectural projects.  Muraflex, however, had anticipated fluctuations in the economy and had a plan to react immediately in case of crisis. We made our purchases in advance, thereby holding down the prices before they skyrocketed. Additionally, our relationship and proximity to our suppliers allowed us to keep our lead times short. As leaders in creating a 4.0 manufacturing state-of-the-art facility in Quebec, Muraflex was able to do this with minimum decrease in productivity and no interruptions.

Operational excellence includes several other factors such as budgeting, organizing, scheduling, keeping employees happy, and finding shortcuts in the interest of efficiency.


Lean Manufacturing 

As a globe, we have started to accept and embrace the importance of waste reduction and ethical purchasing. A major way to do this is to adopt lean manufacturing, which also plays a key role in reduction of lead times.  

Though it might seem counterintuitive, numerous studies have shown that lean manufacturing leads to higher productivity levels. Fewer spare parts create more thoughtful purchases and less waste. Larger orders of stock are more complicated in terms of handling and delivery. With the lean mentality, however, smart manufacturers are ordering smaller quantities more frequently. This helps suppliers respond to their demands and eases burdens on transportation.  

This is also where having suppliers in North America comes in handy: a solid relationship with them creates fluid communication. This means that we are able to stock up on any missing parts quickly and efficiently, with minimum delays.  

Lean manufacturing also leads to a higher quality of work, as the lack of clutter makes for a friendlier workspace. The added visual space clarifies the working mind, which leads to faster work, which leads to shorter lead times. It’s the reason minimalism is gaining popularity. As our personal and business lives grow busier, we work and play with more fluidity when we aren’t crowded with “things.” For this reason, lean manufacturing also eases the management of inventory and aids businesses in keeping track of its ins and outs, creating a steady workflow.  

Once aware of a manufacturer’s lean practices, clients and suppliers are encouraged to adopt them as well. If you want to be a positive influence on your associates, going lean is good for business, the planet, and shortening lead times. 


Inventory Management Software 

Keeping track of estimation, purchase orders, turnover, delays in inventory, accounts receivable and payable is an essential step towards maximizing business capacity. Investment in operations management software keeps lead times brief. It also allows us to foresee delays and helps us with our estimation.  

Time is one of our most precious resources. An ERP or a business management software yields faster results and is more accurate than human calculations. Muraflex, in particular, uses SAP for its inventory purposes. Its clear visuals are good for controlling timelines and inventory turnover. An inventory software also keeps track of patterns and is quick to recognize and expose issues that might come up, such as sudden spikes or falls. Lean manufacturing is made easier, which is also time and cost effective. 

The speed at which software detects and clarifies inventory enables us to shorten our lead times even further. A reliable inventory system enables efficient communication with our suppliers.  

Our inventory also includes up-to-the-minute machinery to handle our material. Our two key instruments are our Modula and CNC. The Modula, a giant cuboid box stretching all the way to the warehouse ceiling, manages our incoming equipment. It counts, logs, stacks, and organizes all our received material, without making human errors. When our aluminum is ready to be machined, the CNC cuts, miters and drills metal and glass as per our programmed instructions. These systems have helped our current warehouse employees with their work, whilst simultaneously reducing labor costs. 

In today's competitive and fast-paced world, there are a few ways to keep up with productivity and make sure clients remain happy. These range from maintaining strong relationships with your partners, to keeping track of patterns and heavy planning, to lean manufacturing, to investing in superior software systems. Even in times of urgency or disruption, a well-organized company that has its planning under control can stay on top of its projects.  

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