Companies don’t have to do everything themselves. It is crucial that companies work out a profile that makes them unmistakable and unique in their target markets and at the same time enables them to be well embedded in these target markets. Companies should provide the services that make up this uniqueness themselves, but they can certainly buy other necessary services from cooperation partners.
For definition: The difference between suppliers and cooperation partners is that suppliers deliver certain goods or services, while cooperation partners are more deeply involved in the overall value chain and work on a joint service.
With regard to production, for example, companies can cooperate with competitors in order to achieve attractive order quantities together, which enable more favorable purchasing conditions. However, companies can also initiate and promote cooperation between their customers, for example so that several customers share the costs of purchasing an injection molding or stamping tool and then jointly benefit from the cost advantages, while the initiator of the cooperation can open up an additional sales market, which otherwise would not have existed.
Cooperation is also an option for product development, with several companies contributing their respective know-how and their opportunities and relationships to development projects. Subsequently, all parties involved in the development cooperation can reap the benefits.
Factors for the success of cooperation in manufacturing
It has been proven that a common goal, clearly agreed roles, responsibilities and tasks and a clear agreement on the distribution of the expected profit are always decisive for the success of cooperative relationships.
In production, cooperative partnerships with service partners who operate complementary manufacturing processes are ideal. An exclusive agreement with suppliers can also be useful. The latter can be realized in the form of an in-plant concept.
Example: A manufacturer of flexible packaging had its strengths in the production processes of laminating films, extrusion, gravure printing and the mechanical manufacture of films into bags. The preparation of the inks for gravure printing, on the other hand, was outdated. Investing in color preparation would have been expensive, and the company didn’t have the expertise to do so. The company opted for an in-plant concept with a leading paint manufacturer. This cooperation secured the ink manufacturer’s sales and additional contribution margins for the on-site storage of the basic colors and the value-adding processing of the printing inks for direct use in the gravure printing presses.
Similar examples can be observed between manufacturing companies and trucking companies. The freight forwarders take over the entire shipping process of the production companies, sometimes even picking the finished goods from the warehouse and bundling the required freight quantities. The joint acquisition of investment-intensive production facilities or the provision of capacity on our own capital-intensive production facilities are also typical options for cooperation in production.
In this way, systems can be better utilized right from the start, and the acquisition often enables access to special markets in the first place. In agriculture, the joint use of combine harvesters and special tractors and special tools organized in cooperatives has been known for a long time. In production, the same principle is conceivable for the use of fine grinding machines, which no single company could buy.
In the case of cooperative relationships in production, the focus is on expectations of operational and strategic synergies. By being able to reduce costs for individual companies, their flexibility increases and specific risks for individual companies are minimized. Despite these strong arguments in favor of cooperation, cooperation should be carefully planned and implemented in order to avoid conflicts in the cooperation, overdependence on cooperation partners and to really realize the advantages.