How to improve manufacturing throughput?

Nov 16, 2017 9:09:46 AM


Will you achieve the best possible manufacturing throughput when people work as hard as they can and machinery runs at top speeds? Many manufacturers feel that way. They fine-tune their equipment for best performance and incentivize employees for working quickly.

Actually, the answer is: Possibly. Maybe not. It depends.

Doing and producing more as quickly as possible is a simplistic approach to improving manufacturing throughput. It can result in various kinds of waste. In mass manufacturing, the output at a very efficient production line may be high, but it idles if materials and components don’t arrive in time. Or, intermediate products may pile up and have to become temporary warehouse inventory because the next production station does not run at the same rhythm.

In engineer-to-order manufacturing of large and complex items, you may be able to boost your throughput up to a certain point by pushing for greater speeds, but those improvements may not translate beyond one production stage. Given the dependencies between sequential manufacturing activities, they may still cause people, machines, or intermediate products to pause and wait.

Document current and desired process flows

What’s most critical in improving manufacturing throughput is the right process flow – from the initial quote, to engineering design, to procurement and purchasing, to production, and on to delivery and lifetime customer services. Only a holistic approach will ensure that all activities sync behind the same goal on the same schedule.

Creating that smooth, fast process flow requires you to review and map all your processes and their intersections, measuring how long steps take. You also need to document who does what, when, and why, and what skills are required. You create a complete as-is map of your manufacturing operation.

You then use your map and documentation to design the state of the operation you want to reach. With all the information in hand, you will be able to identify process improvements that can contribute to manufacturing throughput without causing delays or waste. You see the rhythm of the business today and can revise takt times to improve productivity in a contextual, targeted manner.

Using the right process-modeling tools

Manufacturers use a variety of tools, including business process management (BPM) software to document, model, and improve their processes. Often, these efforts happen when companies review and update their goals, or prepare a strategic software project, like a manufacturing software implementation.

If you move your as-is operation with all its processes to a new technology platform, your manufacturing ERP or other systems will simply replicate the same throughput bottlenecks and inefficiencies that already impact your production. Too many companies have made this mistake, causing them to change course in the middle of an implementation or shortly afterwards. That’s expensive and time-consuming.

Another reason for using a sound process management methodology and a proven BPM software tool is that you need to map and optimize processes that span across your operation, not just the production floor. Such activities as purchasing, distribution, engineering, or post-installation services involve many business groups and touch other companies – customers, suppliers, and subcontractors.

Manufacturing ERP has to follow your process model

In a global economy, strategically aligned process optimization is even more important in improving your manufacturing throughput. When you include engineering, production, and service teams in several countries, the complexity of your interlaced processes can rise substantially. The risk of an unsuccessful ERP deployment that does not facilitate your to-be processes also dramatically increases under those circumstances.

That’s why you might not even want to think about ERP for manufacturing until you have the current and the desired state of your business and its roles and processes defined. Only after that crucial first step does it make sense to think about the manufacturing software, integrations, and data migrations that will be required.

Modern manufacturing ERP in the cloud has made it easier to map technology to your business processes and make adjustments to it as customer requirements and market conditions change.

To learn more about how you could take advantage of today’s software to improve manufacturing performance, download our whitepaper Manufacturing the Future .

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About Author
Luciano Cunha

Luciano Cunha

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) For Luciano, being responsible for To-Increase’s global sales and marketing means unleashing the company’s insight, innovation, and creativity to tell our story and help customers achieve their goals. On the road much of the time, he travels the world to meet with customers, understand their challenges and ambitions, and find the most effective ways to help them advance. Luciano develops and mentors our marketing and sales team, and creates strategies to help the To-Increase worldwide partner channel thrive and grow.
Making Customer Needs the Main Business Driver Luciano and his team have daily conversations with the To-Increase research and development organization to bring customers’ requirements and concerns into the road maps and design of our solutions. Luciano brings his insight to the marketing group to make sure the company’s communications resonate with customers and speak directly to their experience.
“I’m awed by customers’ innovative spirit in taking business management technology past its limits and by their generosity in letting us participate and empower them. I hope to transform our organization to become even more customer-centric than we are today. That means making more resources available to spend productive time with both our customers and partners, so we can ensure that we place into customer businesses effective solutions that fit the evolutionary stage of their operation and the way their people and processes work.”
Empowering a Global Channel
Because To-Increase only sells through partners, readying the channel to be successful in helping customers is a business-critical effort. Luciano aims to meet partners where their interests are. Partners who consider the relationship with To-Increase strategic can rely on our industry specialists to work with them as they plan their growth and serve customers. If partners prefer a less collaborative relationship, they still receive the rich To-Increase expertise and resources to ensure they win the business, perform a successful deployment, and retain a satisfied customer. In working with partners and their customers, Luciano brings to bear his experience of many years of creating successful, customer-focused business development and marketing strategies in many of the world’s countries and regions.
Enabling Customer Success in Challenging Business Environments
Looking into the near future, Luciano expects that customers will continue to expect To-Increase to help them make business sense of unfolding trends and technologies. For example, the internet of things (IoT) will thoroughly revolutionize manufacturing, engineering, and supply chains. Big data will be meaningful and valuable when decision-makers can use technology solutions to transform it into actionable business intelligence that supports key roles and business processes. Mobility will help companies become digital enterprises and move business processes forward from any location, at any time. Team To-Increase harnesses innovation to help customers translate the promise of these technologies into business results.
Before his current role, Luciano for several years was one of To-Increase’s global industry directors, responsible for our industry solutions. His experience also spans more than 17 years in IT and manufacturing management roles. These positions took him into various areas at IBM Brazil, serving as product manager for several software development companies, and included working in senior management at a manufacturing organization in the U.S.
Luciano is married with two young children. Away from work, he enjoys participating in a soccer class together with his son and daughter as well as taking relaxing walks in natural environments with his family.

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