Improving Manufacturing Flow

After 1,000+ Steel Efficiency Review® consultations we have found Manufacturing Flow to be the most important part of process efficiency.

It is pointless to improve efficiency on one manufacturing process when the next process is full or you have to wait for the preceding process. 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. Although this is an effective method, it requires a fair amount of work in mapping out the processes, identifying the process gaps and then determining how to improve the flow.

We have also found a simpler and quicker way to identify what needs to be fixed to improve flow is to go and observe the actual condition. What should be observed is “waiting time”. In other words, ask 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 these delays will be exposed. This is the bottleneck process or constraint in your process flow and this should be the target of your first improvement activity. 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 with the affected employees in the area and also collect some historical data on equipment downtime or material shortages for example. For more information contact your local SER® representative. If you haven’t registered for an SER® click this link: