Friday, December 01, 2006

Business Plan

This is a business plan I wrote for my small business management class.

Business Plan

I. Executive Summary


Machines that fabricate small plastic and metal parts for universities and engineering firms can be made highly adaptable, that is, with a wide range of tools for cutting, scoring, marking, routing, bending, melting, etc. Such machines could also be used for the private sector, providing a range of consumer products and industrial semi-products for retail and manufacturing firms alike.


Locally-made goods are cheaper to transport than those that must come from overseas. Packaging, logistics, overhead all add to the costs of transportation. Reducing them is possible by creating needed goods locally out of universal materials. Cheap and easy to store and ship, these sheets of varied thickness and composition will provide the raw materials for the parts needed. They can be used for all sorts of products, which can be made on demand, or in reserve supply – as the market dictates. With this ability, prices and production can increase and decrease in response to market fluctuations more readily than can other firms. The local nature of the firms will also allow them to be more integrated with the local community, increasing awareness and sales by encouraging employees to volunteer and become involved with it.


An open library of design specifications allows unique and individual parts to be made for special projects. As long as it is viable, feasible, and cost-effective, a design can be submitted for mass production, perhaps with royalties or incentives to encourage others to participate.

II. Vision and Mission Statement


Currently, goods are manufactured the world over, to be shipped the world over. Industrial output is concentrated in a few key areas that provide a large proportion of the goods consumed. How much energy is used to transport raw materials to some factory (likely in China), have them processed, and then have the final product shipped around the world? To prepare for a self-sustaining economy, a paradigm shift in the way goods are manufactured and transported is necessary. Centralized manufacturing makes consumers dependent on a single, distant source. Decentralized manufacturing would allow goods to be made and shipped locally, reducing dependence and the need for wasteful transportation measures.

Business Philosophy

Efficiency follows form and function. Refinement is only possible with iterated processes. Every round of finished goods yields an opportunity to make adjustments. A company that refines its workings benefits in terms of output and profit. In an ever-changing economy, the company that ever seeks to better itself is the one that survives and thrives.

III. Company Overview

Name and Location

The Robotic Manufacturing Company can have its first location be in a small town outside a large city. These places often serve as a low-rent area to store goods in outlets and warehouses that supply the department stores throughout the area, particularly in the cities. The chief concerns for location are dealing with noise levels and ease of loading/unloading.


It is a waste of human potential to have someone sit in a factory for several hours every day, repeating the same small movement over and over again. Robots can perform these actions without tiring, without complaint, without sleep or rest, without striking, getting sick, or pension plans. Modern robotics can also make superior products to those made by hand. Having robots manufacture and provide goods for a population means reduced cost, more efficient use of time and resources, and the potential for high growth and profits.


Engineering firms and universities use large Computer Aided Design labs with specialized robots to fabricate custom-designed tools and objects. Utilizing this technique for consumer and industrial goods allows a wide range of goods to be made for a fraction of the cost it would take to specifically set up a shop for a small range of products.


This business could use an empty pre-existing warehouse, but would be a startup otherwise.


Such a machine and its use was depicted on Scientific American Frontiers on PBS. On the show, the host, Alan Alda, designed a piece of plastic that allowed one to adjust the angle of flash on a camera using mirrors and notched plastic, thereby reducing red eye in photos. The machine read the instructions from the CAD program and cut out the pieces from a sheet of clear plastic, to be assembled by hand to make the item. The open nature of the apparatus allowed virtually any and all designs to be tested.


After the initial startup, as business begins to grow, the employees will be given the option of buying into the company. Hierarchical command structures are cumbersome and in many cases, inefficient. The potential for abuse of leadership positions also makes it outdated and obsolete. Employees will be more motivated and take pride in their work if they understand that the success of the company depends on their vigorous labor.

IV. Products Plan


· Products intended for retailers would be made of quality plastic, wood, metal, and possibly glass and consist of common, high necessity, high use consumer items. Storage containers, furniture/cabinetry, windows, and other simple products can all be made on the same robotic apparatus, some assembly required.

· Products intended for manufacturers would be made of quality plastic, wood, metal, and possibly glass and consist of components and parts for other items. Casings for electronics like microwaves, TVs, computers, etc; small parts for complicated products like cameras and lock mechanisms, as well as parts and tools for industrial/commercial use washers, flanges, pipes, etc, are all possible with this technology.

· Products intended for individuals would be made of quality plastic, wood, metal, and possibly glass and consist of customized or pre-ordered items. Some items will be specially made for specific purposes for specific entities. Individuals and firms alike will often need a unique item made in a small quantity. The customizability of the CAD grants this capability without the need for refit.

Legal protection

The robotics technology exists, as does the CAD design and integration, but each single item will be uniquely designed and patented

V. Marketing Plan

Target Customers –

· Retailers of common household consumer products, especially simple single-material objects. Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, and such retailers could serve as outlets for these goods.

· Individuals desiring specifically designed - sometimes custom made – items. Perhaps for a greater fee, the robot could be used to manufacture custom and unique items, so long as they were pre-designed and likely to assemble appropriately. People from near and far could send in the digital recipe for the part they want and have it shipped to them.

· Firms needing semi-products and other parts. Companies needing certain parts for their unfinished goods will be supplied. The more complex the final product, the greater the chance it will need something that can be made using this technology.

VI. Management Plan

Team input

Workers will be given ample opportunities to make suggestions and participate in decisions, as much to the extent these decisions affect them. Neural networks function more effectively because they have redundancy and connectivity. A democracy functions in a similar way. By tapping into the hidden potential of the employees (each location to have less than 120 or so people), the company can take into account a myriad of concerns and facts, making well-informed decisions that will affect everyone in the company and in the surrounding community.


Workers will take turns being managers, to change the routine and to keep the workplace egalitarian. Elected managers will provide the captain element in the workplace. The elected and temporary nature of the position is to ensure that no abuse occurs, and that others can have an opportunity to manage. Recalls and other power checks can be put into place to keep the situation stable. By encouraging worker participation, the firm can harvest the full potential of each employee, to the benefit of all.


Workers will have a wide range of skills when dealing with the tools, specializing only to the extent that is needed. Specialization diminishes the potential of the employee by limiting their actions and responsibilities. Nothing discourages someone faster than making them perform mind-numbing and repetitive tasks. Some employees will end up being better at some duties than others, but when this occurs, they will be encouraged to teach others how they refined their technique, such that the firm as a whole increases efficiency as the workers better their skills. Job rotations will facilitate this, bringing a fresh perspective on old tasks. Having several different people perform the same task allows refinement to take place much more rapidly.

VII. Operating Plan


Versatile robot arms with interchangeable tools cut, score, drill and bend plastic, wood, metal and possibly glass sheets using pre-designed instructions. The robotic arm reads the CAD data and arches over a sheet, performing actions specified in the design, cutting out shapes and manipulating them to the extent possible by the machine.


A large warehouse could house the robotic apparatus and the control stations, as well as a temporary storage and shipping area.

Quality Control

For individual sales, frequent inspections will be conducted; for mass-made products, statistical analyses will be conducted.


A computer database will keep track of labeled parts and designs, and other logistics.


Firms that produce sheets of plastic, wood, metal and possibly glass will provide most of the raw materials.


Will consist of procuring sheets of various kinds of plastic, wood, metal, and possibly glass, of varied size and thickness, to be determined by demand figures.

VIII. Financial Plan


Capital to invest in the proper machinery, personnel, tools and other materiel will come from small business loans, banks, investment firms – any entity that will supply funds.


Cost per item will be calculated by factoring in the total surface area of the item, the composition (including what type of wood or plastic) of the item, the amount of time necessary to complete the part, the number of times tools need to be changed on the machine, and how much waste material is produced. For stored items, there is an added inventory/processing fee. Rates for all factors will depend on the market, and will adjust to it accordingly.


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