Manufacturing is a complex industry, and developing an efficient production line requires careful choreography. From establishing a steady flow of source materials to ensuring that parts are made correctly and quickly to balancing the needs of labour and the delivery of finished parts and products, there are many things that can go wrong.
But one of the most costly and common issues production line managers face are bottlenecks. Bottlenecks occur when there is a point of congestion along the production line that slows down the process and reduces the assembly process’s overall effectiveness. If bottlenecks become severe enough, they can close down a production line altogether, driving up expenses and drastically increasing overhead.
If bottlenecks are a problem for your manufacturing process, here are five ways you can reduce or eliminate bottlenecks altogether, and improve the value and productivity of your business.
1.Provide Better Training
Your workforce is at the front lines of the production process, and the first place you should look when trying to solve bottleneck problems is to your employees. Do they have the training they need to avoid bottlenecks? Are they following the correct protocols, and do they understand how to adjust their work to keep productivity smooth?
2.Change Your Production Schedule
Sometimes, the organization of production schedules makes bottlenecks inevitable. For example, if there is an unevenness in production time that causes a bottleneck in assembly, staggering shifts or introducing more flexible work protocols can be an effective way to ensure that workers are not standing around waiting for parts.
3.Improve Quality Control
Some of the worst production bottlenecks are caused by incorrectly produced parts, and responding to these kinds of problems often requires managers to step back and consider alternative ways of doing things. If there are consistent problems meeting the correct quality control standards, it may be necessary to introduce coordinate measurement machine technology to provide more accurate, automated quality control.
4.Cross Train Employees
Depending on the needs of your particular production line, it may be possible to produce better results by cross training your employees so they can handle a range of different tasks on your production or assembly line. Cross training your staff gives you greater flexibility, and allows you to move them between machines and tasks so they can respond to potential bottlenecks before they become a problem.
5.Establish Better Maintenance And Repair Schedules
When machinery breaks down, production comes to a halt, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many bottlenecks are caused by worn out machinery. Doing regular maintenance and keeping up with repairs during slower cycles is key if you want to ensure that production won’t be halted by any nasty surprises.
Manufacturing is often described as being a business of margins — with such high overheads and upfront expenses, manufacturers who want to succeed need to pay scrupulous attention to areas where efficiency can be improved to save time and resources. In many cases, dealing with bottlenecks will be the single biggest change a production line manager can make to bring down costs and maximize productivity, and through enhanced training, changes to production schedule, better equipment and greater attention to maintenance and repairs, bottlenecks can be reduced and even eliminated altogether.