Many things can affect throughput. Machinery downtime, poor monitoring, bad production planning and inadequate metrics analysis are some common obstacles that throughput faces. A company should know and understand throughput in order to perform well. Companies should be constantly monitoring its machinery and analyzing production data to figure out ways to minimize downtime and optimize throughput. There are several ways throughput can be improved. One of the most important ones, especially in today’s age, is investing in technology that helps you visualize your production, keep track of all your downtimes, and analyze historical data. This will let you understand your production plant and act on time.
How to improve manufacturing throughput?
Throughput is the most important metric in manufacturing. It is the amount of goods that are produced within a set amount of time. Businesses should aim to have a high throughput as this can give them a competitive advantage. When your machinery throughput is high, your production plant will be more efficient overall. A high throughput helps your company keep your customer's shelves stocked, your customers happy and profits flowing in. Therefore, businesses should prioritize in monitoring and improving on this metric.
There are several ways to do so:
- Employee training: frontline operators that operate the production line have a big impact on product quality and manufacturing efficiency. When they lack skills and do not understand the manufacturing processes, they will not perform efficiently and therefore affect production throughput. Operator errors are very common and will repeat themselves if their roots are not addressed. Identifying the skills and knowledge that your operators need, and then investing in a proper training program that addresses these two will go a long way. Proper training, that not only makes operators capable of operating machinery but also fixing them, will significantly reduce downtime too. A reduction in downtime will furthermore improve throughput, hence the importance of such operator training.
- Eliminating bottlenecks: a bottleneck is a machine with the lowest throughput in a production line and holds the entire line back. A bottleneck will keep an entire production line running at the bottleneck’s slow throughput rate. Working on optimizing this machine, whether it is a part replacement or changing its location in the plant, will greatly improve production as a whole. Lessening the effect of a bottleneck, or eliminating the delay it creates as a whole, will improve throughput. Businesses and plant operators must be always on the lookout for bottlenecks by visualizing operations and analyzing production data.
- Increase process yield: process yield is the fraction of good units manufactured to total units manufactured. A production line may seem to have a high throughput, but if its process yield is low, a lot of the parts manufactured will not be up to standard to be profitably sold. Lowering the number of items rejected per batch will increase process yield. This can be done by looking for elements in the production process that harm parts that go into the product being manufactured. Increasing process yield will increase throughput, income, and customer satisfaction all together.
- Reduce downtime: downtime can greatly reduce production efficiency and cause significant loss to a company. As a machine stops working, there is a loss in production and therefore throughput. The operators paid to operate that specific machine are not producing value while still getting paid and dealing with a broken machine can be costly. Downtime is a big problem in a manufacturing plant and it can take days or even weeks to recover from it. We have already mentioned how employee training can reduce downtime, but there are several other remedies that should be implemented. Cross-training, implemented in your training program, helps solve any downtime issues faster and lessens its effect. By having operators know how to handle different tasks and machinery rather than their own, they will be capable of displacing themselves throughout the plant while their machinery is down or help fix any other machinery. Preventive maintenance is also key to reduce the risk of downtime. Lastly, but most importantly, invest in technology that tracks your downtime and its causes. By being aware of when downtime is occurring and understanding the causes, it is easier to attack the problem in a faster and more effective way. Also, understanding the historical reasons for downtime will provide you with valuable insight into your plant operations and changes that need to be made.
- Incorporate automation: humans get tired and are more prone to commit a mistake, which we call ‘human error’. When product measurements are very specific and there is a goal for large output, humans alone will not be enough to make this happen. Automation is of great help in a manufacturing plant. Automated production systems can perform repetitive tasks at large speeds for great amount of time without getting tired or varying in precision. This will increase throughput by a lot while operators can focus on tasks automated production systems can’t, such as planning, programming and maintenance.
- Invest in real-time technology: this is a very important point and one that covers most of the previous ones. As we have mentioned, monitoring a production plant can be a very time consuming and overwhelming task. There are many different machines, each one with their own characteristics and problems, that make up a production plant. In order to optimize throughput, we need to be able to count it and keep a historical log of it. We also need to be able to track and understand our machinery downtimes. Real-time technology that collects all of this data and makes it easy for you to visualize, manipulate and analyze is a must-have to improve on throughput as well as other aspects of your plant. Proper data collection and analysis is the key to understanding your production plant and making the right decisions.
Improving your throughput goes hand-in-hand with an increase in efficiency and creates more opportunities for profit. Timely deliveries mean satisfied customer. By using real-time technology that tracks your production and keeps track of your downtime, you can significantly improve throughput which will provide you with a positive impact to your business. Here are 5 Key Impacts a Better Throughput Gives Your Company.
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