Rules for Manufacturing Efficiency

August 12, 2011   Blog

Your company’s success is increasingly tied to improving manufacturing performance and improving it quickly.
Manufacturers are increasing their focus on the bottom line. This scrutiny is leading to renewed attention on manufacturing, where the most significant assets (plant and equipment) and costs are.  Manufacturers need to cut costs, increase cash flow and become more responsive to changing market conditions.

The following are 17 rules to pay attention to that will drive profitability to the bottom line.

Enhance Asset Utilization and Efficiency
Improving manufacturing efficiency is a pre-requisite to better profitability and corporate success. Enhancing manufacturing performance yields huge advantages – from cost reductions to a stronger competitive position – which can be passed on to shareholders or customers.  The trick is to be highly efficient while improving quality, expanding your product portfolio, and becoming more demand driven.

Flexibility Improves Efficiency
Being efficient while responsive to shifting customer demand requires an enterprise-wide manufacturing transformation: moving from Manufacturing-to-Forecast (MTF) to Build-to-Order (BTO) which can create a dramatic payoff.  Greater flexibility lets you allocate production across plants, shifts or suppliers, resulting in a faster response to changing conditions and improved overall plant utilization. Greater efficiency reduces Work in Process (WIP), labor, scrap and rework, saving both time and money.

Culture of Continuous Improvement
Having an enterprise platform for manufacturing operations real-time Key Performance Metrics such as OEE provides global visibility, across your operations.  These capabilities let you easily identify and replicate best practices across your global operations while instilling a culture of continuous improvement across production, warehouse, quality, maintenance and labor activities.
Standardized best-practices reduce cycle and takt times across your operations, helping to ensure On Time Delivery (OTD). Global, real-time visibility that is actionable on a 24/7 basis enables immediate resolution to operational disruptions.

Synchronize Material with Production
Reduce idle inventories and execute Lean initiatives to achieve operational excellence.  By synchronizing material flows across production, warehouse and quality operations you can reduce costs and improve cash flow – get the right materials to the right plant at the right time.  Material synchronization means your material flows are in tight coordination with actual demand – finished goods roll off the line based on customer demand, and WIP is “pulled” through the plant to meet sequenced final assembly demands.  Cash flow improves from reduced inventory levels.  Waste from obsolescence is reduced and facility requirements for storage are minimized.

Enhance Lean Initiatives Globally
Lean, demand-driven manufacturers can further reduce idle WIP and inventory buffers while gaining agility to respond faster and more accurately to customer demand. Electronic replenishment and e-Kanban sizing, triggered by actual demand and consumption can help optimize global operations. Costs go down, efficiency goes up and customer satisfaction escalates.

Just-In-Time, Sequenced Operations
Applying material synchronization one step further, Just-In-Time, sequenced production can further reduce excess inventories, for a truly demand driven production.  Track, view and coordinate the flow of goods from supplier to customer shipment.  You’ll need real time visibility and actionable control of your entire material flow – in-transit, landed, WIP and finished goods inventories – to enable precise synchronization of material and production demand.

Improve Quality
Best-in-Class quality means building your product “right the first time,” resulting in reduced waste, fewer returned items, lower warranty costs and higher customer satisfaction.  Implementing a platform for continuous quality improvement is a way to ensure profitability, achieve regulatory compliance, maintain brand integrity and provide sustainable competitive advantage.

Get it Right the First Time
Directed manufacturing and real-time decision support systems can enforce best practices and Poka Yoke to prevent errors, a minimum requirement for Six Sigma.  Quality processes based on real-time data validation can greatly improve first time yields.  Automated, paperless processes eliminate manual data entry errors.  Automated alerts can quarantine materials or even halt production for out of spec materials to cut costs.  An approach to automated data collection with real-time metrics across all manufacturing operations can greatly improve the likelihood your product will be built right, the first time, and every time.

Traceability and Containment
A comprehensive application across manufacturing operations managing materials, labor, equipment, tooling, processes and suppliers insures “interlocking traceability” of all product and process data. The precise interactions of all manufacturing elements can be used to identify and contain quality problems before they reach the customer. Automated traceability and containment processes can greatly reduce manufacturing, warranty and recall claim costs.

Accelerate New Product Introductions
Introduce new products faster by synchronizing engineering with production. Real-time integration of production specifications with engineering design helps evaluate how product components or processes can be modified to improve output, increase quality or enhance product performance.
In today’s “digital” world with rapid data dissemination surrounding global product launches, manufacturers must respond faster to market changes while flawlessly executing new product introductions.

Real-time Visibility to Operational and Design Data
With the growing complexity of new product designs, manufacturers are increasingly turning to virtual design programs to model product performance.  Establishing a continuous, real-time feedback loop between production and design applications can provide critical visibility to better product design, improved quality and an overall compressed timeframe for new product introductions.  Furthermore, sufficient flexibility can be maintained to perform ad hoc changes as often as needed when converting digital designs into physical products, thereby staying ahead of the competition.

Reduce Manufacturing IT Costs
Complexity, process integration and systems disparity may be a reality, but are an unnecessary evil that can hurt production performance, force unnecessary training, waste resources and limit your ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions. Multiple, redundant systems across the plant can lead to unnecessary implementation, maintenance and upgrade costs.

Single Platform Enables IT Rationalization
Leading companies seek to consolidate and rationalize disparate applications – ideally into a strategic platform across manufacturing operations.  Integration, maintenance and support costs can be reduced significantly.  Linking a manufacturing system platform to ERP and the Automation layer creates a comprehensive solution for manufacturing operational excellence.

Core Deployment Program
Create a “Center of Excellence” of best practice manufacturing processes within a central ‘lab’ or ‘testing environment,’ which can then be rolled out to other locations as a “Core” deployment program for your manufacturing processes.  Up to 80 percent of these processes can typically be standardized, helping to accelerate multi-location deployments and simplify future updates as new best practices are identified.

Leverage ERP for What it Does Best
Many manufacturers have invested heavily in an ERP system to improve operations and have been successful within Finance, HR and other corporate departments. ERP implementations have struggled, or worse, in gaining acceptance in the plant.  Instead, industry leaders are leveraging ERP by connecting it to a manufacturing system to enable real-time visibility, control and synchronization across manufacturing operations, corporate planning and scheduling.

Focus on Planning in ERP, not Execution
Many attempts to directly extend ERP to the plant floor have ended in budget overruns, reduced functionality from what was originally conceived, or even complete failure. Corporate financial planning tools were simply not designed to manage complex, dynamic 24/7 real-time environments.

Let Manufacturing Shop Floor System Drive Production
This approach can provide real-time visibility, control and synchronization across your operations, while letting you truly leverage existing planning systems to effectively deliver value to the plant floor while reducing ERP customization. Benefits from such an approach include improved operational performance, accelerated ERP connectivity to the plants, minimized project risks and an overall reduction in IT costs.

Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology. Memex products allow a manufacturer to realize the impact of OEE Profitability.