Discrete Manufacturing

The specificities of small series production place supply chain management at the core of operational performance

The small series production industry includes the design, manufacture, operation, and operational maintenance of products that are highly complex, as a result of their development and industrialization. Their batches are very small (<10) and sometimes limited to a single unit.


In terms of industrial operations, the sector is characterised by:

  • Very long procurement, supply, and manufacturing cycles, due to poor supplier performance and a general lack of availability of inputs or of certain manufacturing processes
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  • High level of investment and complexity involved in the design and development of these products, which makes their operational maintenance a key factor in operators’ financial performance
  • Significant level of technicality and upgradability of products throughout their lifespan, with configuration control further complicating supply chain management
  • Strong sensitivity to economic cycles and currency parity
  • Globalisation of markets (offset, skills transfer, geographical extension of the value chain)



At present, the ship and train manufacturing sectors, and the power station and turnkey factory construction sectors, are facing new challenges. To retain their positions and maintain sustainable growth, they need to:

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  • Rethink their engineering processes, to better control programme lead times and costs: running sub-projects in parallel, while reducing iterations between them, improving internal and external collaboration with suppliers, implementing lean engineering measures
  • Establish specific procurement strategies, taking a partnership approach and seeking out make or buy opportunities
  • Optimise their upstream supply chain, both to reduce working capital requirements and control production cycles: improving supplier performance, managing raw materials and parts traffic, optimising parts inventories and customer/supplier collaborations
  • Improve their industrial performance: industrializing processes in an industry that is 'small series' by nature, reducing production cycles, improving productivity and quality
  • Continue to increase their share of services revenue and maintain their profitability: improving their range of services, optimising the MRO chain (monitoring the installed base, spare parts supply chain, industrial strategy for repair/renovation resources), optimising field services


How can Argon Consulting help you?

We guide clients in this sector through their process of transformation, from the assessment of opportunities, right through to the implementation of operational performance levers:

  • Open benchmarking of core/non-core activities, followed by the definition and implementation of a make or buy policy
  • Improvement of research programme and research department efficiency: management and optimisation of engineering resources and R&D, process efficiency, lean engineering, etc.
  • New programme or structural design-to-value/design-to-cost
  • Procurement and upstream supply chain optimisation (sourcing strategy, supplier performance management, parts inventory reduction, VMI implementation, and general stock performance)
  • Supply chain planning (demand, capacity, and inventory planning)
  • Industrial performance and lean management (cycle reduction/reliability, cost-cutting)
  • Product/customer segmentation and adaptation of service range
  • Logistical efficiency (upstream and downstream logistics chain efficiency and cost)
  • Operational maintenance (maintenance traffic forecasting/planning, prioritising work-in-progress, optimising margins, etc.)
  • Optimisation of spare parts distribution (sourcing and distribution network and inventory policy)


Argon Consulting’s clients include:

DCNS, Alstom, SNCF

Case Studies

Product standardization by modular design