AZO releases guide detailing how hybrid ‘super plants’ face economic uncertainty

Gus Carrington

Gus Carrington About The Author

Feb 3, 2021

Diversification and consolidation of manufacturing plants have been thought of as mutually exclusive in the world of bulk material handling. A new guide from AZO entitled “Hybrid Manufacturing Operations for Flexibility and Resilience” tackles how a “hybrid” alternative between diversification and consolidation might just better prepare a company for disruption and economic uncertainty.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected various industries, this free guide aims to help companies build flexibility into their production processes. Specifically, “Hybrid Manufacturing Operations for Flexibility and Resilience” explores how manufacturers can react to both risk and uncertainty. 

“The idea that ‘everything is good, we’re in a perfect place and we don’t have to spend any money on capital equipment’ is a recipe for disaster,” said Chuck Kerwin, general manager of AZO Inc. “Efficiency reduces costs but ignoring process improvements will not allow for new sales growth. Efficiency derived from consolidation and plant closures assumes the top line is, at best, stagnant.”

Kerwin has spent many years as a capital equipment supplier, and he has seen firsthand how some manufacturers have skimped on new investments while pursuing continuous cost reductions. 

“Throw in a disruption like COVID, and fewer operations limit flexibility or adaptability,” Kerwin said. “Diversify your manufacturing plants. Be able to quickly modify your products or where they are made. That’s the advantage of a hybrid approach — to have plans ready to be able to shift from one way doing things to another quickly.”

The new guide from AZO specifically covers risk management, factory diversification and a seven-step process for building true flexibility into a plant. It acknowledges that managing a business requires inevitable trade-offs and that a company’s ability to react to known risks and unknown uncertainty will depend on many factors beyond the operational excellence of production managers.

“There’s a long litany of CEOs who have been shown the door because they had a plan that didn’t work out,” Kerwin said. “When the next person takes over, how likely will they try anything new? Not likely — nothing major, that’s for sure.”

Hybrid Manufacturing Operations for Flexibility and Resilience” is available at and joins a slew of other free offerings from AZO concerning bulk material handling topics like super sack unloading, conveying and screening

AZO, Inc. engineers, builds and installs components and complete systems for bulk material handling requirements. A wholly-owned subsidiary of AZO GmbH, the company supports U.S. customers with technical support from its Memphis location and rapid parts delivery. AZO equipment is used in companies ranging from small, family-owned businesses through the world’s best known industrial and consumer products companies. More info about our company, as well as common questions related to the world of ingredient handling, can be answered on our company blog at

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