Gain a competitive advantage by streamlining your manufacturing operations

November 7, 2022

Manufacturing plants are complex environments that require a great deal of effort to maintain. With many different departments and people working together to keep processes running smoothly — it's easy for manufacturing operations to become disorganized, which can lead to costly mistakes and delays in production.

By taking the time to analyze your current system and identify areas for improvement, you can create a more efficient process that ensures product quality while also reducing costs and increasing productivity. Here are five ways to streamline your manufacturing operations:

1. Collect and analyze data.

You can't improve what you don't measure, so start by collecting data on the current state of your manufacturing operations. This can include information such as the number of employees involved in each step, how long each process takes, how many defects are produced, etc.

Once you have this information at hand, analyze it to identify areas where refinements can be made. For instance, you might discover that one step in the process is taking twice as long as it should or that a certain type of defect is occurring more frequently than others. By identifying these issues and coming up with solutions to address them, you can create a more efficient workflow that still maintains quality control.

2. Reduce lead times.

The longer it takes to complete a process, the more time and resources you'll spend doing so. According to the Institute for Supply Management's 2022 Report on Business, the average lead time for production materials stands at 92 days — which is the highest since 1987.

By reducing lead time, you can save yourself both money and effort. Ways to do this include finding a domestic supplier, conducting a sales forecast and increasing order frequency. In addition, these are also ways to increase your company's productivity because as it reduces the amount of time workers spend waiting for materials to arrive, for parts to be delivered or for their work to be checked by another employee.

3. Improve communication.

Poor communication can cause a number of complications, including missed deadlines and lost materials. It can also make it difficult to identify and resolve problems that arise during the production process.

By improving communication among employees and between departments, you can prevent these issues from occurring in the first place, or quickly address them when they do occur.

4. Keep up with new technology.

It can be challenging for manufacturers to stay abreast of new technologies, but there are many solutions that businesses use to enhance production processes and keep up with competitors.

In fact, McKinsey & Company reported that labor productivity can be increased by up to 30% through the application of data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

5. Adopt a lean manufacturing philosophy.

A lean manufacturing philosophy is a set of principles that emphasizes minimizing waste throughout the production process — where "waste" refers to any activity that doesn't directly contribute to the creation of value for the end customer.