We have found “Flow” to be the most important part of operational process efficiency.
It is pointless to improve efficiency on one process when the next process is full or you have to wait.
The first step, after ensuring that all processes are standardised, would be to develop a ‘process flow chart’ or a ‘process map’ to determine each step in the process, how those steps interact and the time taken per step.
This would then be used to identify gaps and improvement opportunities.
We have found a simple way to identify what needs to be fixed to improve flow in your operations. This involves observing “waiting time” and asking the following key questions:
- Why aren’t those machines running?
- What are those operators waiting for?
- Why don’t we have material ready?
Eventually the process which is causing delays will be exposed. Once this process is improved the constraint will move and that process becomes the next target for improvement. To confirm your findings the best method is to talk your people and also collect some historical data on equipment downtime or material shortages.
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