Photo by Lenny Kuhne on Unsplash

You’ve managed to raise enough capital for your business and optimize all of your systems. You’ve even managed to streamline and optimize every aspect of production. But there’s a niggling feeling that something isn’t right with the way you’re running things.  

Here are 9 tips on how to optimize your manufacturing lines:  

1. Take advantage of automation         

One easy way to optimize production is through automation, reducing labour costs, reducing errors, and speeding up installation time. It’s also a great way to get started with lean manufacturing practices because it requires less human intervention from the get-go.  

As far as automation goes, look into robots — robot arms in particular — since they provide more flexibility than traditional industrial robots and are easier to use. Though, automation isn’t only restricted to robots and machinery. Automation is used by inventory management software too.   

When you automate your MRP software, it will help increase the production rate tremendously. The ERP manufacturer planning sheet can be scheduled so that batches of products are created, manufactured, and then finished goods are produced in an assembly line fashion. When you use ERP manufacturing software, it’s easy to monitor the progress of each order, report on work orders completed in a shift or two days ago, manage routings for the product, etc. In contrast, manual processes make this difficult without extra resources. Manually using ERP manufacturing software takes up more time when you need to go through this hassle when operating with multiple machines at once. It’s just not efficient.  

2. Train your team on lean manufacturing principles       

Your team is the backbone of your production process, so it’s important to ensure they’re up to speed on lean manufacturing principles. This will help them eliminate waste in all production areas, from material handling to assembly.  

3. Implement a pull system       

A pull system helps reduce inventory and improve production flow by allowing only the necessary number of materials to be processed at any given time. This can be implemented by setting up a Kanban system or using a software program that helps track inventory levels and trigger orders when needed.  

4. Evaluate your process for bottlenecks        

It’s important to constantly evaluate your process for potential bottlenecks, even if your production line is running smoothly. Think about how you can optimize bottlenecks so that they’re not slowing down your entire process, as these can have devastating effects on your business over time.  

5. Optimize the layout of your facility        

Your factory or warehouse likely has a lot of wasted space — just think about all those corners and crevices where equipment may be stored or left to gather dust during lull periods. Segmenting areas of your facility behind closed doors for specific work stages will optimize workflow and make it easier to track inventory levels throughout the production process. If possible, try incorporating a conveyor system to maximize efficiency by automatically sorting products at different points in the production line.  

6. Improve flow throughout your facility         

Improving flow can optimize overall production, which is particularly important if you plan on adding additional equipment to your factory floor in the near future. While this will likely require some heavy machinery to optimize workflow, it’s well worth the investment because it will help deliver products faster and within budget once they move into mass production.  

7. Encourage consistent quality control        

Quality-control methods need to be efficient first and foremost so that errors are stopped early before they become major inconveniences down the line, like defects or reworks. That means encouraging consistent quality control through rigorous inspections at every stage of production — don’t allow any room for error whatsoever.   

8. Reduce lead time between processes       

One way to optimize your manufacturing process is to reduce the lead time between processes. This can be done by incorporating a just-in-time (JIT) delivery system, which delivers materials and components only when they’re needed in production. This will require close communication with your suppliers, but it’s well worth the effort because it can greatly reduce your overall manufacturing time.  

9. Standardize your processes       

Standardizing processes makes it easier to optimize and streamline production because it eliminates variation in the way tasks are performed. This can be done by developing standardized work instructions or flowcharts that dictate how every process should be completed. By following these guidelines, your team will be able to produce products more quickly and efficiently while reducing the likelihood of errors.  

Once you have optimized the manufacturing process, there will be a huge impact on manufacturing costs. This is because manufacturing lines and processes which were once inefficient will now run smoothly with less waste and more productivity. There may also be a reduction in manufacturing costs because manufacturing lines that used to run at half capacity can now be closed or re-purposed. 

These 9 tips to optimize your manufacturing lines will keep your business running smoothly well into 2022.  

Author info:   

James Humphreys  

James is a content specialist at Katana ERP manufacturing. Katana gives thousands of manufacturers a live look at their business with visual, intuitive, and easy-to-use ERP software. You can read more of his posts over at https://katanamrp.com/blog/