How much detail do you really have of your manufacturing operations?
It has been said, quite often, that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. That is very true – so long as the objective is kept front and centre.
Measuring is a tool that helps to improve effectiveness; it is not an end in itself. Accurate measurement improves visibility, which helps to improve processes, increase resource utilisation and efficiency all of which contribute to minimising loss and maximising output.
Accurate data is especially important when businesses are undergoing or experiencing change. The world is going through an upheaval, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, and a range of activities are being fundamentally rethought, from supply chains to nearshoring, from customers and markets to products and marketing.
Although it is undoubtedly a huge and very inconvenient upheaval, Covid-19 will pass and there may be a temptation to think that, if the hatches are battened down, normal service can be resumed when the storm abates. However, history demonstrates that businesses that try to simply stand still end up going backwards and may disappear completely.
Growth is challenging. The process of achieving it underlines the need for accurate data collection and management.
Growth is challenging
The process of achieving it underlines the need for accurate data collection and management.
Case Study 1
Rocket Medical, based in the NE of England, specialises in the design, development and manufacture of medical devices, ranging from drain tubes to disposable scissors and gynaecology and natal delivery equipment. It faced the challenges of success when it won some major orders from big customers and started to reap the rewards of its drive to increase exports. It was busy; the shopfloor was buzzing with activity but it wasn’t structured or under control. Planning and scheduling became unstructured as the orders came in; production staff actually picked the jobs they wanted to do and management was tied up with firefighting.
Rocket holds a mix of batch-manufactured finished goods and raw materials for more expensive products. Control of this mix and managing machine availability and multiple orders from a range of different markets requires a totally reliable management software solution.
The company discussed the situation with LYNQ and realised that through an MES system, they would gain better visibility, enabling more effective planning, tracking and analytics. Machine availability, quality and performance are now monitored in real-time. The business has a clearer understanding of where bottlenecks or quality issues may occur, and why. Read the Rocket Medical Case Study here
Case Study 2
Thousands of miles away, in Hamburg, New York, Worldwide Protective Products relies on a US supply chain for the manufacture of its bespoke range of protective gloves, produced in small batch runs on 475 machines. Although its products are premium priced, they still have to be costed. For 10 years from its foundation, in 2004, production could be handled with spreadsheets, experience and a lot of time, effort and manual checking but it recognised that it would need to automate to grow successfully. They implemented LYNQ’s MES, which eliminated the guesswork, got inventory under control and properly tracked in real-time, and made production capacity more visible. Scrap is better identified and machines that aren’t working properly can be identified and rectified before they cause expensive damage.
Case Study 3
Further west in the USA, in Cleveland, Ohio, contract aerosol filler IKI Manufacturing suffered supply chain disruption as a result of Covid-19 issues and, in trying to satisfy as much of its customer base as possible, saw inventory balloon. Orders were being fulfilled from available materials, rather than properly prioritised. The company’s manual production management process couldn’t cope. LYNQ’s MES enabled production changes to be automated saving huge amounts of time, introducing flexibility and agility into production, enabling production to be balanced against available stock and for changes to be made quickly. It was able to cut inventory by $4 million in just six months. Read IKI Manufacturing Case Study here
All of these cases have one thing in common: better resource tracking, across:
- machine availability,
- purchasing and
- machine utilisation.
Cashflow was improved in each case, whether from reduced WIP, better purchasing, lower stock levels or all three and all businesses gained valuable insight that could be used for improved planning and growth. For some, it meant survival; for all, it meant improved profitability.
In the next piece, we will look in more detail at how visual scheduling & online planning help to improve capacity planning and delivery to customers