Holistic Manufacturing Is an Old Trend, Not a New One
The end of March had the whole world watching as drama unfolded on the Suez Canal. A massive container ship was stuck in the canal for 6 days, blocking thousands of other shipping vessels and bringing global trade to a halt.
This event wasn’t even the only major example from the last year highlighting the precariousness of the global supply chain. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains in critical industries like healthcare, leading companies to rely on domestic manufacturing methods like 3D printing to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and test swabs quickly and efficiently.
Due to the unpredictable nature of global supply chains, many companies are beginning to look for more reliable manufacturing solutions. Interestingly, this shift highlights the benefits of a traditional approach to manufacturing known as vertical integration.
The Early Days of Vertical Manufacturing
Vertical manufacturing (or vertical integration) helps companies gain better control of processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies by reducing their reliance on outside suppliers.
This manufacturing concept has been around for centuries, but one of the most famous examples here in America was Henry Ford’s approach to manufacturing automobiles. Ford brought automobiles to the masses by creating what we now know as the assembly line. His goal was to become entirely self-sufficient so that he didn’t have to rely on suppliers.
The early days of frozen foods offer another great example of vertical integration. Entrepreneur Clarence Birdseye wanted a way to freeze foods for commercial sale during a time when refrigeration technology wasn’t yet available, so he invented the technology himself!
The Decentralization of the Supply Chain
The advent of technology enabled companies to take manufacturing to the next level, outsourcing goods and services to suppliers across the globe and managing the process digitally. Rather than companies owning every part of their manufacturing process (like Ford and Birdseye), they had the opportunity to outsource the entire supply chain with the goal of saving time and money.
But as the ship in the Suez Canal and the supply chain disruptions during COVID-19 have shown us, decentralization may not be the smartest move in our changing world today. (We even saw an example of this recently when a winter storm in Texas triggered a global plastics shortage.)
Driven by supply chain insecurities, companies are beginning to see the advantages of collapsing the supply chain and returning to local production. Ultimately, those considering this shift are faced with an important choice. They could manufacture everything under their own roof, but that’s not always a practical solution. Another option is to rely on a version of outsourced manufacturing that prioritizes localization whenever possible—something that we call localized holistic manufacturing.
Alchemy Industrial Offers Localized Holistic Manufacturing
The idea that a product with 1,000 parts made all over the world can come together easily to produce a finished piece is becoming more and more impractical and unrealistic. And yet, many companies aren’t interested in becoming manufacturers—nor do they have the expertise to do so.
So why not focus on what you’re great at (designing innovative products, finding customers, building community) and leave the manufacturing to the true experts at our machine shop in Houston?
Manufacturing isn’t something you should just do; it’s a strategic play. Alchemy Industrial offers localized holistic manufacturing to create a bridge between traditional vertical integration and the supply chains that have become commonplace in our modern world.
Our philosophy is that if you’re going to outsource manufacturing, outsource it to experts like us who will do as much as possible under our own roof—and make everything else as local as we can.
Like traditional vertical integration, local production helps customers reduce costs and improve efficiencies. It also has significant sustainability and environmental benefits, such as decreasing CO2 emissions.
As we like to say here at Alchemy Industrial, we don’t practice magic, but we hope that what we do feels magical to our customers. If our localized holistic manufacturing approach sounds like a magical solution for your company, let’s talk!