5 Tactics for Increasing Throughput in Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturing Companies

Posted by Steven Brand on May 15, 2017 12:25:56 PM

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As a small or medium-sized manufacturer, you always have to work to your full potential to stay competitive. There are quotas to meet and deliveries to be made to satisfy existing customers and uphold a good reputation. Failing to be effective in throughput can lead to slow or delayed orders which in turn can lead to customers turning to your competition.

Finding new ways to increase throughput can help your business grow but can also prove challenging, so we have collected some of the best tactics in this post to help you on your way.

1. Reducing Equipment Downtime

The key to reducing equipment downtime is to have an effective maintenance management system in place. There are many solutions available on the market, such as NetFacilities or CWorks, that can help in the communication with the maintenance manager or the management team.

Choose a solution with real time visibility and an integrated user screen where you can request assistance at the push of a button whenever you need maintenance. Not only will you be able to make more informed decisions and increase throughput by using real time visibility and keeping your equipment up and running longer, you'll also have a solid foundation for improving overall equipment efficiency (OEE).

2. Setup Time Reduction

You may be able to increase throughput by reducing the number of setups or by using equipment with short setup time. Setup time may be reduced by improving the existing setup procedures. One way to do this is to organize parts into groups and dedicate a specific workstation to a group of parts that have similar setup requirements. Rather than to schedule one specific part for setup, you may be able to schedule groups of batches to reduce the amount of setups. You can read more about setup procedures in A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System (Shingo, 1985).

3. Processing Time Reduction

You may be able to increase throughput by reducing the processing time needed per part. This may be achieved by reducing the amount of operations required and/or by reducing scrap and required rework. The operations needed for one part may be significantly reduced by using technology that allows a single operation to do many things at once. The processing time may be reduced further by redesigning parts to require less operations or to incorporate more efficient technology.

4. Dedicating Labor

Having your workers become familiar with a limited number of parts or groups of parts may be able to increase throughput by making the manufacturing process more efficient. Dedicating labor will make it faster to train the workers, and they will require less time to read blueprints and set different machine speeds.

Performing quality inspections will also be faster and easier when you have less parts to go through and a workforce that is farmiliar with just a few parts or groups.

5. Customized Online Training Program

By performing a thorough job analysis you may be able to identify the skills and knowledge required to achieve full performance levels of production workers in all functional areas. Following it up with a customized online training program with measurement tools in place could give you a competitive edge and comes with many benefits. It may lead to increased productivity, reduced downtime, accelerated onboarding and reduced scrap.

According to the Californa Manufacturers and Technology Association, proper training is essential to reducing downtime caused by machine repair, poor operator setup, operator errors, poor production planning and lack of a qualified operator.

Investing in a customized online training program early on may help you improve performance and increase throughput in the short run, and make your manufacturing business prosper in the long run. Such a program can also reduce the amount of time needed to spend training on production machines, resulting in more efficiency and lower risk of injury.

To summarize it all:

  • A solution with real time visibility and an integrated user screen helps to reduce the downtime of your production equipment by improving communication between the functional areas and the maintenance crew.
  • Organizing parts into groups and dedicating workstations to those groups may reduce the setup time needed.
  • Using new technology or redesigning parts may reduce the required processing time.
  • Dedicating labor to become familiar and only work with a limited number of parts will mean less training time. It may help to increase throughput by improving overall worker performance and efficiency.
  • A customized online training program may lead to many benefits that ultimately increase productivity and throughput for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

Hopefully you will consider applying these tactics to your own business. Remember, even though these tactics are frequently used in the computer and electronic industry, they can be applied to any and all manufacturing companies to help improve performance and increase throughput.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement

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