Manufacturing improvements to speed up production

Posted on 20 Feb 2017 by The Manufacturer

Businesses tight on production capacity look to manufacturing efficiency improvements as a means of boosting output. Ian Jack, business development manager at Datawright, discusses improvements to speed up production.

Ian Jack, business development manager, Datawright.
Ian Jack, business development manager, Datawright.

The benefits of manufacturing efficiency improvements can often go well beyond the creation of what is in effect ‘free’ additional manufacturing capacity.

Eliminate waste and inefficiency through efficiency improvements, and costs come down. Production operatives are more productive, saleable output per machine hour rises, and a greater proportion of raw material inputs winds up going out of the warehouse as finished products, rather than in the scrap bin as yield losses.

Manufacturing efficiency improvements deliver something else, too – something that is less obvious, yet just as important. Eliminate wastes and inefficiencies, and you will speed up production – because less time is spent manufacturing scrap, or on over-production, operating slowly, or spending excessive amounts of time on things such as setups.

Identifying manufacturing efficiency improvements

So, how best to go about achieving these manufacturing efficiency improvements? Clearly, there’s no shortage of tools and techniques at a manufacturer’s disposal: lean manufacturing; Just in Time (JIT); Six Sigma; Single Minute Exchange of Dies, time and motion studies – the efficiency improvement toolbox is extensive.

But the real problem isn’t so much the lack of techniques, it’s the lack of insight into where to deploy those techniques. Where do you start? How do you prioritise scarce manufacturing efficiency improvement resources? Where, exactly, are these hidden wastes and inefficiencies that must be eliminated?

Stock Image - Manufacturing Factory Industry Speed Up Production
It’s one thing to talk about eliminating wastes and inefficiencies – but quite another to know exactly how to identify them.

The bottom line: it’s one thing to talk about eliminating wastes and inefficiencies – but quite another to know exactly how to identify them, so as to be able to put in place the necessary improvements.

Manufacturing efficiency improvements: ERP to the rescue

Once, getting these insights into where potential efficiency improvements lay was either a time-consuming business (think Six Sigma, ‘fishbone diagrams’, and so on), or a costly one (think Shop Floor Data Capture, and Manufacturing Execution Systems).

No longer. These days, ERP systems designed for manufacturers can contain a lot of the required functionality, providing a rich data store of where potential efficiency improvements can be found.

Simply put, ERP software automates the tracking and monitoring all of your manufacturing processes, helping you to identify waste and inefficiencies through reporting and analytics.

Better still, that reporting and analytics capability is generally real-time – providing live insights into waste and inefficiency, rather than a rear-view mirror that highlights production problems that occurred last week or month.

That said, not all ERP systems are manufacturing-centric. And not all systems provide that same level of visibility into manufacturing efficiency improvements, with fully integrated analytics and Shop Floor Data Capture.

Read more manufacturing insights from Ian Jack here.

And even then, not all manufacturers leverage those capabilities to the same extent.

If manufacturing efficiency improvements are on your agenda, you might find my recent article useful: Seven strategies for supply chain management success, otherwise, get in touch, we’d be happy to offer advice.