New Year Orders: How to Handle the Rush or Slump
Does your business have a New Year Rush or a New Year Slump? Either way, here’s how you can avoid disaster during this tricky month.
It’s the New Year! Does the anticipation fill you with excitement, dread, or indifference?
Your answer probably depends on how your business typically performs at this time of year. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, you’ll be affected by the orders and new jobs that come into the business over the next couple of months.
Does your company experience a New Year Rush? Or a New Year Slump?
Both can be difficult.
Why January Is a Tricky Time for Manufacturers
It’s clear why January can be a difficult month:
- Many businesses close over the festive season and only open their doors again once the last party popper has been pulled. When they get back, there is a stack of new orders and jobs to catch up on.
- Clients and customers are in the same position as you are. When they get back after the New Year, some will send a load of new orders to their suppliers and will want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
- At the other end of the scale, many businesses are strapped for cash at this time of year and won’t make any new orders until they are in a comfortable position. If you are a supplier to these businesses, this can lead to a slump.
The next couple of months can be especially troublesome in some industries because it’s not just the Gregorian New Year that we have to worry about (i.e. the one which falls on January 1st in the Gregorian calendar used by most of the world).
The Chinese New Year often causes havoc for manufacturers because Chinese suppliers are out of action for almost a month — 2 weeks before the holiday, 1 week during the holiday and 2-4 weeks for them to get back on track afterward.
Do You Have a New Year Rush or a New Year Slump?
It’s impossible for me to say whether your business will experience a rush or a slump at this time of year. Although there are some general trends within industries (e.g. the restaurant industry usually has a January slump), the effects of this time of year will be unique to your business.
The best way to make predictions is to look at your own historical data. Look at the last few years and note the number of orders you received at this time year. If this is your first year of business and you don’t have any historical data yet, make sure to record data for next year.
Try to answer the following questions about the last 1-3 years:
- What was the backlog of orders and new jobs in early January?
- Compared to the rest of the year, was there a rise in orders between January and March or a drop?
- What were the lead times from suppliers during these months?
- Which projects did your team work on most between January and March?
- How much overtime did members of your team take during these months?
Every year is different. However, your answers will give you an insight into the overall trends which might affect you and your business this year.
Ultimately, you should be able to answer this question:
- Will we have a New Year Rush or a New Year Slump?
How to Avoid Disaster with Offline Programming
Okay, so you’ve worked out whether your business will experience a rush or a slump. How can you use this information to avoid disaster? How can you ensure that your business isn’t crushed under the weight of too many orders or suffering from a lack of orders?
Prevention is Better Than Cure
The most effective way to tackle either situation is by preparing for it before your business goes on holiday. As we explained in our festive post last year, you can use offline programming to avoid both rushes and slumps. If you’ve got a New Year Rush, offline programming allows you to get a head start on new orders without affecting production. If you’ve got a New Year Slump, you can generate new quotes before the holiday and/or get a start on new projects.
Finally, if you’re reading this in January, however, it’s a bit too late to make those preparations.
Even so, offline programming can still help you to tackle your current situation.
3 Ways to Handle a New Year Rush with Offline Programming
You’ll experience a rush of orders and new work if you have received a batch of new orders over the holiday period or if you’re starting to receive a lot of orders now.
The most important thing to do is to fulfill the orders as quickly as possible (keeping within your quality standards, of course). If your robot cells help you to fulfill these orders, offline programming can help you to get back on track quickly.
Here are three ways to tackle the situation with offline programming:
- Save time by creating your robot programs quicker than with other robot programming methods, as we explained in this article.
- Program the next batch of work for the robot while the previous batch is running.
- Give machining tasks to your robot cell to take the load off your human machinists.
With an efficient robot workflow, you can catch up with your new orders in no time.
3 Ways to Handle a New Year Slump with Offline Programming
You may experience a slump in orders and new work if your customers avoid making purchases early in the year.
The most important thing to do is to make the most of the extra time you have gained by having fewer orders. You could either use this time to generate new business (by making new quotes) or get started on new projects which will improve your business.
Here are three ways to make the most of a slump with offline programming:
- Generate new quotes quickly to solicit new business, as we explained in this article.
- Take some time to improve your own programming skills and those of your team, to make better use of the robot for future work.
- Look into adding more robotic capabilities to your business, such as robot inspection, robot welding, or incremental forming.
When it comes to adding new capabilities to your business, a slump of new work can be a blessing in disguise!
Your New Year’s Resolution: Try Out RoboDK for Yourself
Looking for a new year’s resolution to get this year off to a great start?
Try RoboDK yourself for free and see how it can improve your business.