5 Steps to Improving Your Manufacturing Process
The Value Stream Mapping process is used to improve manufacturing efficiencies and reduce production costs. In essence, it’s an orderly method that identifies labor, time and material wasted in delivering a quality product or service to the customer. By finding and addressing these issues, you can refine your manufacturing processes and improve your bottom line.
It’s not complicated, but it does require an investment of time to critically study and analyze the current process following these steps:
- Understand the process. Take a hard look at all aspects from inception to completion. Question everything: raw material selection, delivery, storage and usage; machining setup, tooling, tool paths; loading and unloading; post-machining operations; delivery to the customer. Document every step, no matter how minor.
- Identify customer value. This involves critically evaluating all of the steps in your process that you’ve documented, and determining which ones add value to the customer, and which do not add value. Your goal is to determine if eliminating or refining any steps that don’t add value would reduce cost without impacting customer satisfaction. For example, could you add equipment that enables you to perform an operation in-house that you now outsource? Or would automating material loading eliminate or reduce the need to move materials from storage to the worksite?
- Visualize the perfect process. In this step, it helps to take a “man from Mars” approach, in which you look at the process with fresh eyes, as if nothing is impossible. Although you may never achieve a perfect state, you will likely discover opportunities to streamline your process by eliminating choke points or finding new ways to improve the existing process. One CNC shop owner did this and made his vision a reality by inventing an unloading and conveying system that eliminated manually sorting the various sizes of a family of parts. This made it possible to add an unattended overnight shift that significantly reduced costs.
- Reduce waste. In addition to refining the overall manufacturing process, think about reducing waste. Taking advantage of IIoT communications devices, for example, enables a turning machine and bar feeder to share data that monitors material usage and adjust production to greatly reduce otherwise wasted bar stock. Likewise, you can reduce coolant usage and cost by employing an efficient filtering chip conveyor.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities. Once you know what is needed to optimize your process, you need a plan of action that includes clearly defined steps, list who will implement these steps and assigns deadlines for each part of the improvement effort.
Your local LNS representative is in the business of helping manufacturers optimize productivity with industry-leading turning machine peripherals. Call today for a free consultation.