What’s the formula to increased manufacturing throughput?
Your machinery is running at top speed, your operators are incentivised to work faster, but you still haven’t achieved your best possible throughput.
What’s holding you back?
The reality is, improving manufacturing throughput requires a holistic approach. You cannot
simply turn up the dial and expect throughput to increase. It takes a thorough understanding of your existing processes along with data insights that shine the spotlight on where you should make changes for maximum impact.
What is throughput?
Throughput is the number of units manufactured that are successfully delivered and accepted by the customer. This is not the same as output, which is your total production, including scrap and rejection.
Take these actionable steps to increase manufacturing throughput:
Step 1. Measure the right metrics
You can only improve what you measure. To improve manufacturing throughput, you first need to implement real-time production performance monitoring.
Measuring the right metrics will help you find the sticking points in your processes and production line, so you see the opportunities to fix and improve.
Some important KPIs to measure include:
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): Assesses quality, speed and downtime (availability x performance x quality) and is used to indicate the overall effectiveness of a piece of production equipment or production line. An OEE score of 100% is perfect production: manufacturing only high-quality units, as fast as possible, with no downtime.
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): The average time between system breakdowns. As a maintenance metric, MTBF helps you measure performance, safety, and reliability of equipment.
Setup time: The amount of time taken to change equipment and setup materials from the last part of a production batch to the first good part of the next batch.
Measuring the data is not enough; you need to use and analyse that data to discover actionable insights and implement change. OFS software organises and presents the information in a way that lets you quickly identify opportunities for improvement, prioritise them and share them with the organisation.
Step 2. Understand your existing workflow
You can’t make any improvements until you actually know how your production line functions. It’s important to have a clear understanding of where you are at, where your issues lie, and where the potential for improvements lie. This will not only help you identify improvements, it will help you work out the quick wins versus those that require more investment.
a) Workforce – Do you have skilled labour in the right areas? Are they properly
b) Equipment – Can you rely on equipment? Do you have a maintenance plan?
c) Processes – Are processes clearly mapped? Have you identified bottlenecks or
Step 3. Reduce equipment downtime
Your throughout will only ever be as good as your equipment. Unreliable equipment leads to downtime, and downtime is the biggest killer of productivity and throughput.
For every second production is down, your company is losing money. In fact, the true cost of equipment breakdown is estimated as between 4 to 15 times the maintenance costs.
The first way to reduce equipment downtime is with a planned maintenance program. Schedule your maintenance to ensure your machinery is always performing at its best. This is where your workflow comes in. Using your understanding of workflow processes (above), you can work out the best time to schedule planned maintenance so that it has the least impact on production.
The second critical part of reducing equipment downtime is to train your operators. Do they know how to perform regular maintenance? Can they troubleshoot issues? By training your equipment operators, you can help ensure your equipment is always running smoothly.
Equipment can be integrated with sensors and predictive maintenance software which will prompt you when maintenance is required. For example, sensors can detect vibrations or temperature changes that are likely to cause equipment failure, the software then notifies operators to change the conditions to avoid equipment damage and stop any equipment failure and downtime before it happens.
Step 4. Reduce setup time
Next, look at how you can reduce the number of equipment setups or reducing your setup time.
Start by improving setup procedures. Is there an opportunity to streamline the procedure?Next, improve operator training. Proper training is essential to improving setup times. Lastly, measure, monitor and analyse setup time/downtimes to identify what issues are impacting setups and whether you are improving.
Step 5. Reduce Rejection Rate
You can have a high output, but if products are being rejected due to quality issues, your throughput won’t increase. The solution is to improve the overall quality of your products and cut your rejection rate.
Identify processes in your production line that can damage your parts or cause them to fail to meet quality standards or tolerances. For example, you might have an issue with labels being printed in the wrong orientation or bottles that are being underfilled. If you have an inspection system that detects the issue early, you can fix it and reduce rejections. Better still, you will improve customer satisfaction with your products.
Step 6. Eliminate bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are the machines or processes with the lowest throughput in a production line, which are holding the entire line back. Analyse your production data to identify the culprit.
Optimising these machines or processes will deliver your biggest wins. That could mean automating the process or upgrading the machine.
Step 7. Automate your processes
What parts of your production line can be automated? Humans can only achieve so much. They get tired and are more likely to make mistakes. By taking over routine and often error-prone tasks, automation can improve efficiency, boost throughput, save money and improve quality.
With technology increasingly more affordable, automation is no longer the realm of larger companies; small and medium enterprises can also reap the rewards.
What should you automate? Start by looking at product and packaging inspection – automating your inspection processes can instantly improve quality, speed and reduce rejections.
Over to you
Harnessing your data and insights is the single most important step to increase throughput. Using real-time production data, you can build a better understanding of your processes, equipment and workforce, which will empower you to make steps to improve – not once, but continuously.
Evaluate your current production performance monitoring software. Are they measuring the right metrics? Can you clearly see the information and action it to make improvements? Our experts are ready to learn about your challenges and work with you to improve your throughput.
To learn more about OFS software and how you can use it to measure and improve manufacturing efficiency and throughput, click here.