Whether due to the sagging economy or a summer slowdown, your factory might be experiencing some downtime. Do you just turn the lights off and send people home, or do you figure out ways to utilize excess capacity?
It’s not a new idea—the semiconductor industry figured out some time ago that with the high cost of a chip-fabrication plant (fab) it made sense to operate plants at full capacity most of the time. So when a chipmaker opened up a new fab, it leased some of its capacity to another chipmaker. Eventually, a fables semiconductor model took hold: small start-ups could develop new chips and manufacture them in someone else’s facility.
A similar situation occurs in the transportation and logistics industry—if a truck, plane or ship isn’t filled to capacity, the shipping company auctions off the extra space—at a steep discount.
Of course, there is a lot of unpredictability around this model—how do you know transportation capacity will be available when you need it? But in manufacturing, many companies have the benefit of forecasting, which gives the factory a pretty good idea when downtime may occur.If using downtime is viable for your business, start looking for potential customers among your competitors—they may have a sudden uptick in orders they can’t fill. Another good place is among start-up companies and/or entrepreneurs. Universities are a good place to find inventors that need a way to actually build a new product. Also, take a look at venture capital research and see if companies in your