The Ultimate Guide to Manufacturing Process Optimization
Who doesn’t love the sound of low costs and maximum efficiency?
Manufacturing Process Optimization is the ongoing task of observing, developing, and implementing improvement strategies to manufacturing processes to do just that: minimize cost and maximize production.
This system enables manufacturers to get from prototypes to large-scale production quickly while minimizing waste but Manufacturing Process Optimization is not as simple as it used to be. Products and the process to build them at scale continue to get more complex and COVID-19 has disrupted travel and supply chains. All while the pressure to launch new products rises and the only thing that tops it is consumer expectations.
That is why Manufacturing Process Optimization should be a data-driven embrace of a ‘better way’ to execute a task. If the task feels daunting or the idea of improving your manufacturing process seems out of reach, remember that with the right system in place, anyone can do it.
Process > Skill. Any day.
Any plant can benefit from utilizing a methodical process to identify and implement optimization strategies regardless of their differences. The five phases may look a bit different in each industry but following this method will help you understand and execute optimization strategies.
- Strategy development
During the discovery phase, you must fully understand your plant, its process, and how and why they work or don’t.
Consider the source materials, what they are, and how much they cost. Then your production phases, what actions are taken to transform your materials into products, and how long that takes. Next, consider your production equipment and its condition, maintenance, and replacement cost. Lastly, evaluate and understand current and traditional best practices across your industry and other plants.
Consideration of manufacturing processes needs to be critical and constructive. It’s the direct search for ways to improve your plant’s operation. The consideration phase is influenced by each question and answer found during the discovery phase mentioned above. For example, understanding where your source materials come from leads you to consider what else they could come from. Are there cheaper, faster sources available?
Additionally, unknowns that you discover during the first phase can be just as valuable. If there is no system to track and conduct preventative maintenance to a machine, unscheduled downtime, expensive repairs, and potential safety issues can add up. If a Plant Manager knows what they don’t know, in this example: the current condition of their large assets, they could assign appropriate maintenance resources, which can reduce costs.
Data analysis can be a huge asset during this phase in the process especially. Velocity-based analytics like Profit Velocity use data readily available in your ERP and supply-chain systems and assist in identifying large profit opportunities that lay hidden in your operations.
Think of this step as the ideal time for idea generation. Keep looking for more opportunities and ideas even if you think your first two are winners. This will be important in the next phase because you need options to be able to determine the best strategy.
Now it’s time to execute a comparative cost-benefit analysis of those areas of improvement that you have identified. This stage is where you get to determine what strategy, or combination of strategies, will be most beneficial to your manufacturing process.
This step might seem daunting, so consider bringing in expert consultants to make sure all your bases are covered.
Once you determine which strategies will result in maximum benefits, you are ready to implement them. When deciding which projects to prioritize, it’s important to weigh the impact of each project against the resources available. To deploy resources effectively, departments will likely need to coordinate closely.
Remember to center your plan around tangible and achievable results, and determine the timeframes based on the analysis completed earlier in the process.
How can Process Optimization in Manufacturing Help the Supply Chain?
In light of globalization and changing customer expectations, the supply chain today looks radically different than it did not too long ago. CEOs and supply chain executives can apply this same system to Supply Chain Management. This helps them capitalize on the growth and additional revenue that is possible with an efficient supply chain. Applying the framework above to your supply chain can help you maximize production further and find more hidden profits.
When using these steps to execute Manufacturing Process Optimization, it is important to equip you and your team with the right software or expert consultants to make sure all your bases are covered. Imagine applying a structured, value management ecosystem to your business and the profit and growth-maximizing results you’d see.
Process improvement may never be complete, but with these strategies, the right team, and innovative software, Manufacturing Process Optimization is right at your fingertips.
Learn more about Velo and the holistic approach that we bring to every step in the process to make sure no profits are left on the table.