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18 November 2018
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FM service providers in manufacturing operations have to deliver in as much a ‘just in time’ a fashion as the lean manufacturing process itself if they’re to best fit clients’ constantly changing needs


09 October 2017 

Manufacturing is where the relentless quest for process efficiency has its most profound effect, not just in its impact on the way support services are procured and provided, but also in the very ability of an organisation to maintain its hold on customers. Often fundamental shifts in manufacturing process means providers have to recalibrate the FM provision more routinely than in any other sphere.

Previously an in-house FM in the manufacturing sector, Claire Rumsey heads up Incentive FM’s manufacturing service provision as regional director, and is well placed to explain what’s happening today.

“There aren’t necessarily any different pressures to those of five years ago,” says Rumsey, “they just seem to be more intense. Cost pressure for any manufacturing business is still the main focus and is continually reviewed. The globalisation of the manufacturing base and the variable pressures of the international markets they work in mean that, as FM providers, we have to be creative with service solutions and extremely nimble when things change. To use a lean manufacturing term, FM services have to be almost ‘just in time’ to meet these varying needs. With fluctuating currencies, the slowdown in the BRIC economies and Brexit, we have to review what we do and when we do it every day.”

“Clients expect a much greater use of technology as part of the contractual offering,” says Mark Johnson, group business development director for Servest. “They want real-time notification of what is happening. As a service provider, we need to meet this demand.

As well as disruptive entrants (typically empowered by new technologies), Martin Boden, managing director for Sodexo Corporate Services UK, says that whether in automotive, pharmaceutical or fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), the typical manufacturer also faces market changes such as the complexity of global market challenges and an ageing workforce. Boden believes providers who work with manufacturers on workplace design are best placed to prosper.

Adapt or die

For Patrick Hunter, director of business development at OCS, the demands of an FM working in the manufacturing space depends on the nature of production.

“Some clients will require sterile manufacturing conditions, others will place greater emphasis on site security,” says Hunter. “This variation of need dictates the focus of service delivery. In manufacturing, metrics play a key role when structuring tasks and analysing performance, meaning data management information has become highly desirable when selecting an FM provider. For the manufacturer, the quicker issues can be identified the more productive the manufacturing process can become.”

But if resources to provider service are spread thinly in the first place, how can FM service providers adapt at the pace that their manufacturing clientele demand?

Rumsey is blunt in her assessment. “Some just aren’t. Responsiveness and safety are always primary requirements for a manufacturing facility, however, when I was tendering FM contracts many of the companies submitting proposals to me had only considered service provision in a traditional FM sense, rather than thinking from a manufacturing point of view.

“The performance of a factory operating LEAN processes will be impacted if it is supported by an FM provision that doesn’t follow the same LEAN approach.”  

There is precious in the panoply of FM services that can be delivered in a generic fashion, says Rumsey. “Poorly considered and managed FM does not fit any area of manufacturing. You can’t even clean the offices, canteen and toilets in a generic way as the building is populated with people who think differently; skilled operators who have to plan with strategic sourcing and planned preventative maintenance part of standard operating procedures. But mostly, FM companies are reactive.”

Maintaining quality

Johnson says it is common for manufacturers to already have engineers on site carrying out their daily tasks. “This can be challenging when we’re providing the M&E provision for the fabric of the building, alongside engineers working on a production line in a factory.”

It’s a situation, says Johnson, that requires a “certain leap of faith” from clients at the start of a contract and, for the provider, “a call to maximise the in-house talent and to use the combined expertise in the best possible way”.

It’s in the provision of machinery maintenance to prevent downtime that this failure is most likely to be felt.

Says Rumsey: “Incentive provides TFM to my former company and its providing maintenance for the production machinery was of the highest value to us – and the one (service) most difficult to find.

Now she’s seeing the FM service market from the contractors’ side, Rumsey is frustrated by the poorly designed and delivered FM solutions that “have left the manufacturing sector slow to recognise the true value of outsourcing, often claiming they can “do it better themselves”

Emma Potter