Dec 1, 2020

Accenture: five actions for agile manufacturing operations

Georgia Wilson
3 min
Manufacturing operations during COVID-19
Manufacturing Global takes a look at the five actions outlined by Accenture to help manufacturers adapt their operations to the new normal...

With COVID-19 causing severe operational, social and financial challenges for the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are being forced to rethink their risk management, contingency plans, health and safety protocols and manufacturing operations all at once. 

With this in mind, Accenture has outlined five actions for manufacturing organisations to develop agile operations for the future.

1. Understanding demand disruption

COVID-19 has drastically changed the demand priorities in product portfolios, three key scenarios affecting assets for manufacturers include: 

  • Shifts to address opportunities for hypergrowth
  • Transitioning and repurposing legacy lines to support the community 
  • Slowing and/or shutting down production lines where demand has drastically fallen or supply chains have been disrupted

“In all scenarios, manufacturers need to rapidly identify the products that are most critical for stabilisation and growth, shore up associated supply chains, and reconcile the critical skills to meet near term and future demand,” commented Accenture.

Recommended actions:

  • Work with planners to determine actual customer and market needs
  • Segment operations based on the market outlook
  • Develop rapid demand and supply scenarios
  • Communicate supply commitments
  • Establish a road map

2. Workforce safety and flexibility

With COVID-19 creating significant workforce availability, safety and productivity challenges, Accenture identifies that absenteeism and remote support are likely to reduce productivity as new processes are put in place. 

“A ‘worker-first’ mindset requires meeting distancing protocols and unique personal protective equipment requirements for the safety of workers and their families. Workers are looking to their leadership for support in staying healthy and productive,” added Accenture.

Recommended actions:

  • Develop flexible staff levels
  • Optimise crewing schedules
  • Establish and implement a remote working policy
  • Establish and implement new safety practices on site
  • Deploy head mounted displays
  • Re-engage underutilised employees

3. Manufacturing ecosystem viability

“Ecosystem relationships typically suffer the most during massive market disruptions,” commented Accenture. With the increased adoption of ecosystem based global supply chains, manufacturers must understand the implications of COVID-19 and contract provisions for each critical ecosystem player to address this challenge. 

Recommended actions:

  • Confirm critical supply from main sources or secondary sources 
  • Assess if co-manufacturing and the extended ecosystem is still viable
  • Reach out to major contractors 
  • Identify which market delivery routes are a priority
  • Review all contracts to identify if any obligations need to be changed 

4. Physical production network assets

“The rapidly changing demand/product mix, combined with workforce and ecosystem availability challenges, may be substantially disrupting manufacturers’ existing physical production networks,” added Accenture. As a result companies need to make fast and accurate decisions on investment and effort required.

Recommended actions:

  • Analyse the demand and product mix, workforce and ecosystem
  • Explore repurposing for non-critical assets
  • Conduct an analysis of critical and non-critical assets
  • Identify capital and value implications
  • Balance asset decisions
  • Create a ‘living’ network model

5. Leverage digital capabilities

“Digital enablement is an essential part of fueling rapid change and building resilience in manufacturing. This is true across a whole range of functions, including demand/portfolio analysis, demand/supply scenario analysis, labor/skill identification and scheduling, remote work capabilities, ecosystem relationship collaboration, and network analysis,” stated Accenture.  

Those that have digital platforms, accessible data and advanced analytics are expected to be able to respond quicker, more accurately and be successful in response to COVID-19 disruptions.

Recommended actions:

  • Assess key capabilities for building resilience
  • Establish and implement a digital strategy
  • Deploy digital solutions for resilience

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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