Streamlining your manufacturing process (and quality processes) will result in greater profits — the key is knowing how to improve without reducing the quality of your product. Streamlining involves reducing waste, improving quality and using the technology available to keep all team members working together. Improvements can be made to both material and labor costs.
In order to gain the largest benefits, you must look at the big picture and each individual portion of your manufacturing process.
3 Areas to Look at to Streamline your Manufacturing Process
Waste in manufacturing occurs in both materials and labor. Scrap cuts directly into any company’s profits. You must make use of production data to analyze the entire cost of any order produced. Start with one of your larger products and look at each step to determine where losses are occurring.
You need to begin this process where your production cycle begins, at the initial order phase. If orders are received, but not sent to the correct department, you are already one step behind. You must have the correct materials to manufacture the product ordered. A great deal of loss occurs from ordering the wrong materials or duplicating materials already in your inventory.
Waste also occurs in the form of labor costs. Equipment failures or part shortages leave employees waiting to continue the manufacturing process. Poorly trained personnel will take longer to fabricate a product.
Quality improvements need to be made throughout the entire manufacturing process. Without solid quality programs in place, products may go through all the way to the client or consumer and end up being returned for defects. This not only increases your costs in labor and materials; it reduces the confidence your buyer has with your facility.
Quality starts with the raw materials you order to manufacture the products you sell. The receiving department must ensure that shipments contain the correct materials in the amount ordered. Quality inspections must be performed on the material before it moves through to the manufacturing process.
During production, any critical portions of the manufacturing process must be inspected to ensure that each stage meets all required standards. If a problem occurs midway through production, the process must be halted before significant time and materials are wasted.
Communication via Technology and in General
The ability for all team members to communicate is critical. There are numerous Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs available to help any manufacturing facility streamline production and improve the profit margin. Again, this begins with orders received. All involved departments must be included in the initial order.
Raw materials must be on hand or ordered by the parts department. The engineering team must be notified if changes are requested. The production team needs to be included in order to commit the personnel and equipment to produce the order. Appropriate planning at this stage streamlines the entire production process.
Using ERP software for inventory control provides the communication required to eliminate waste in duplicate or incorrect inventory on hand. The same programs reduce the time lost from not having the raw materials needed.
Other ERP programs will allow your business to ensure that all engineering designs are up to date to eliminate producing a product that no longer meets the client’s needs. Labor programs will allow you to know exactly how much time is required to complete an order.
You must also track the equipment required for production and know when scheduled maintenance is required and when it is completed. If your manufacturing equipment is not operational, your personnel will not be able to fabricate the goods. This results in a waste of labor costs and delays the final shipment to your client.
Even your shipping department will benefit from inclusion in your streamlining. When this department knows in advance what needs to be shipped, and any special procedures required, personnel will be ready when the product leaves the final quality check. The manufacturing process of including shipping and transportation data that is accessible by all is achieved more efficiently via integration, also known as connect services. Cerasis will expand more on this in a future blog series and webinar later this year.
The right communication programs provide immediate alerts to any involved departments to reduce the areas of material and labor waste. Analyze the past performance of your manufacturing process and look for the largest problem areas first. However, the entire process must be analyzed as each individual portion of manufacturing makes up the end product.