What is agile manufacturing?

5 min
agile manufacturing

We have entered an age of digitization that allows companies to accelerate the pace of innovation and turn speed and agility into a competitive advantage. Factories can be connected through the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide high-tech solutions that help better plan and manage resources and processes.

Agile manufacturing is a modern approach or strategy used by manufacturers to respond quickly to changing customer needs and market demands. Manufacturers have recently embraced lean and agile manufacturing initiatives to try and improve inventory management and operational capabilities.

What is agile manufacturing?

Agile manufacturing is a manufacturing methodology that focuses on rapid response to the customer. It’s an excellent approach for businesses looking to develop a competitive advantage in today’s fast-moving marketplace.

Agile manufacturing focuses on flexibility, uses technology to augment or automate processes, adopts a bottom-up structure, and requires companies to continuously iterate to improve. 

Agile companies are better positioned to respond quickly to market demands without compromising quality.

The shift towards agile in manufacturing

Agile methodologies have been used in product development for many years. Agile has allowed businesses worldwide — especially in the tech sector — to create products that offer substantial value to the end-user.

Agile offers many benefits, but how did it come to be adopted in manufacturing? Let’s take a brief dive into how agile came to manufacturing. 

Constant advances in technology

You don’t need to be a tech wizard to know that the world of technology is changing almost daily. New technologies have always been helpful for the manufacturing sector, enabling automation and increased productivity. 

However, with each new technological advancement comes learning new processes and new ways to run your business. This means companies need to be ready to adapt to new technologies that improve workflows.

Rapidly evolving environment

Technology is driving significant changes in every industry, including manufacturing. Of course, as technology advances, so do your customers' needs. 

The likes of e-commerce giants like Amazon have forced businesses to try and live up to a new standard. Customers expect smooth processes, greater product customization, faster delivery, and cheaper production. 

These changing demands and trends aren’t the only thing the industry has adapted to. Regulations are constantly changing, supply chain issues are becoming increasingly complex, and wavering trade stability worldwide has created a tough environment for businesses to navigate.

A job market in-flux

The labor shortage is hitting businesses across America. Low unemployment rates and an enduring skills gap make it difficult for manufacturers to recruit skilled workers. Deloitte estimates that this skills gap may leave over two million manufacturing positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028.

By adopting agile practices, businesses can help manage the worker shortage while keeping productivity high. This is largely done by automating repetitive tasks so workers can focus on more important responsibilities.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Analytics play a huge part in guiding business strategies, and thanks to advancements in technology, gathering insights has never been easier. Machinery and handheld devices come together through the IoT to produce a wide range of data that businesses can use to gain valuable insight into their manufacturing. 

The benefits of agile manufacturing

Agile manufacturing is effective because it acknowledges the realities of the modern marketplace and transforms them into a competitive advantage. With an agile production system, you can transform static operational processes into flexible production processes that address customer demands while improving productivity and product quality. Here are a few benefits of agile manufacturing.

Consumer satisfaction

We’re in the age of digital products and Amazon Prime. Customers want their purchases, and they want them now. Thankfully, they’re willing to pay a little extra for speed and convenience. This provides businesses with extra revenue if they’re agile enough to meet demand. 

Agile methods also allow businesses to offer a more personalized service, which is handy because 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them.

And because consumer trends change like the seasons, keeping track of those trends is a never-ending task. Agile practices allow businesses to adjust to the constantly changing consumer trends with little effect on productivity.

Better organizational practices

Agile offers a way to increase value and productivity throughout an organization. 

Individual workers are empowered by data-driven processes that help them work smarter, not harder. Agile companies use a continuous learning process to help them improve their skills without needing to increase their workload.

Agile teams are connected more than ever through seamless collaboration, resulting in better performance. Team members have clear roles, but they do not necessarily have a single role, and multiple people can share roles to help improve productivity. An agile work environment offers workers an open and safe space that facilitates sharing knowledge and insights. 

All of these benefits come together to offer increased factory output, better utilization of employees, and increased customer satisfaction. 

Key elements of agile manufacturing

Multiple factors enable you to become an agile manufacturer — modular and customer-focused product design, information technology, corporate partners, and knowledge culture.

Modular, customer-focused product design

An agile manufacturing plan encourages quicker modification and adaptability. When you create products with modular designs, you can more easily create variations without having to introduce entirely new manufacturing processes. Modularity helps you deliver products with an unprecedented level of speed and personalization.

Lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a production process based on an ideology of maximizing productivity while simultaneously minimizing waste within a manufacturing operation. 

The “Iterate Faster” principle of agile encourages teams to quickly go through multiple versions of a process or product. Implementing this principle is a core feature of successful Agile organizations. Lean manufacturing helps you iterate faster because you can try different manufacturing techniques and processes without wasting time and materials. 


Manufacturing is an industry that can sometimes struggle with change. Adopting agile processes allows businesses to be flexible enough to keep up with the modern customer’s demands. 

Bottom-up approach

Agile manufacturers favor a bottom-up approach, in which ideas and directives flow seamlessly between all layers of the company. 

Agile Manufacturing supports the idea that those closest to manufacturing challenges understand them best. This approach gives everyone an equal voice, from directors and managers to operators and floor workers. 

The more operators, engineers, managers, and business executives collaborate, the more effective operations will be as a whole. 

Information technology

Proper IT infrastructure drives agile manufacturing and ensures transparency across the manufacturing process. Transparency helps keep employees at all levels of your business informed in real-time. 

Using software solutions for tasks like inventory management, materials management, order processing, and production planning can help you gather valuable insights into your day-to-day manufacturing. To implement agile manufacturing, use these insights to help you tweak and adjust your processes.  

Knowledge culture

To successfully implement agile manufacturing, manufacturers need to apply its principles to their entire organization. This requires plenty of training from agile coaches who need to empower workers and facilitate continuous, self-organized learning.

Get the insights you need 

Agile is all about adapting and iterating based on changing needs and trends. To truly embrace agile manufacturing, you need intuitive software that helps facilitate the change. 

That’s where Brahmin Solutions comes in. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you grow, manage, and analyze every phase of your manufacturing. 

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