Capacity Utilisation

Capacity utilisation within a business can be easy or hard to calculate, for a printing shop, it is easy to calculate how many sheets they can produce per hour for example and in a metal fabricators, it is easy to calculate how many sheets of metal they can produce per hour, however for a company that has varied demand, it can be very hard to predict how much the business should utilise its capacity, a clearly noticeable example would be an understaffed restaurant, although they have staff working the shift, it is clear that they did not account for the demand that the customers require.

Capacity Utilisation = Actual level of output / Maximum possible output x 100

Productivity = Total output / Number of workers

Capacity utilisation should never be at 100%, as this could mean that if something were to fail, the business may not be able to fulfil the orders, Companies may choose to ask multiple ‘what if?’ questions that may indicate if the business may want to reconsider its utilisation levels.

  • What if the employment rate fell?
  • What if workers were too highly skilled?
  • What if forecasts are not conservative?
  • What if costs increased?
  • What if minimum wage increased further?

The Impact on EU Trade Imports and Exports vs Capacity Utilisation

For UK Businesses, there is a handy acronym when working with exchange rates, SPICED. ‘ strong pound imports cheap, exports dear ‘. This applies to any companies in the UK who may wish to export or import goods from elsewhere.

If the UK were to leave the EU, the cost of imports/exports could be greater/lesser depending on the trade deals we could secure with countries.

  • Specialised workers would find it harder to move freely into the UK.
  • Tariffs are not imposed in the EU, tariffs could cost businesses money, however it could be argued that they increase competition.
  • The Common Market could potentially be lost.
  • The work ethic of some foreign national employees could change.

These factors could all affect the overall capacity utilisation of UK companies.

 

Trade-offs and Opportunity Cost

What is Trade-offs and Opportunity Cost?

Trade-offs are choosing one thing over another, if you choose to invest in paint over pencils, your opportunity cost, is that you can no longer colour with pencils. This is a poor example, so lets look at some real data so we can get a good understanding of what opportunity cost is really about, and for that we need an example.

Nails and Hammers LTD.

A company, called Nails and Hammers LTD, produces hammers and nails, they have a good reputation, but are not really known, they also manufacture their hammers cheaply and therefore some of them are not exactly to the highest quality. in their first year, they only sell 100 units, this is barely enough sales to keep the business going, so they decide to invest in one of two strategies. Investing in Machinery, in order to produce better quality hammers, or Invest in Advertising, to get the word out about their Hammers and Nails. They decide that they will spend $300 dollars in the second year and see how it goes. They do their market research and come up with these two graphs.

 

tradeoffs and opportunity cost of both types proving advertising is optimal

 

It can be seen from these graphs, that investment in advertisements will produce more sales than investment in machinery, therefore investment in Advertising is the way forward for Nails and Hammers LTD. This is called a trade-off, without the graph, it wouldn’t be known which is better for sales until the second year had ended. The same investment of $300 produced more sales. Lets, look at more data.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is essentially what you could have won if you had invested in something else, if you can only learn piano or tennis, and you choose piano, the opportunity cost is that you could have learnt tennis.

Trade offs and Opportunity cost orange showing 200 after 3rd year

Let’s take our previous example, and pretend that we invested in the lesser option, Machinery, we can see that we didn’t make as much as we would have if we had invested in Advertising. The opportunity cost in the third year would have been 200, because the investment in advertising, produced 700 sales, minus our 500 sales.