5 Indicators it Might be Time to Change Your Manufacturing Process
Are you still on the fence about whether to make the investment in your manufacturing system? Maybe you know you need to make some changes but don’t know how to find the right balance between automation, semi-automation and manual content? Sure, the benefits may seem obvious – Faster production, reliable inspection, cost reduction, waste reduction. But making the decision to move to automation isn’t right for every manufacturer. It’s complicated and it should be a decision based on your company’s needs and future outlook. Here are 5 indicators that it might be time to make a change.
1. Increased quantity or quality demands from your customer
The good news is your product is being well received in the market and sailing out the door. The bad news is your customer has approached you, asking for more quantity or higher quality standards. If you are running a lean facility, you may not have prepared for a significant increase in demand. You need to decrease time and increase production, fast.
2. Different variations of products
You finally refined your process to run smoothly. Congratulations! Now new variations of your product are being introduced and to save money they want you to find a way to run these in your current process. How will you get this new process to work as smoothly as before? How will you continue to meet the quality and quantity requirements your customer demands? You need to expand your equipment’s capability or integrate a new piece of equipment to your current process.
3. Inconsistent quality
Quality is becoming a more stringent specification in today’s manufacturing and if you currently operate with manual quality inspection, it is easy for defects to slip through the cracks. This can be costly to you in the form of customer perception, returns, complaints and scrapped products. To meet the profit demands of management and the quality demands of the customer, you need a more reliable form of quality control.
4. Reducing labor content
So your customer has gotten you to meet their quantity requirements and now they want you to reduce your prices! What do you do? Finding good people is difficult enough, even when you have plenty of time to search. Now, you need to find good people to meet the increasing quantities needed by your customer and fast. This can feel next to impossible. You need to be able to do more with the same number of people by careful implementation of equipment to supplement the manual labor content.
5. Space constraints
As your products increase in popularity and your process grows so does the complexity. This often creates tight working environments and inefficiencies in your process. If you start with a completely manual process, you create an assembly line of workers. As the demand increases and more workers are hired, the facility becomes more cramped with space at a premium. You need to consolidate and/or automate some of your processes to satisfy the increasing demand for your product.
Do these challenges sound familiar? Do you find yourself lying awake at night trying to figure out how to solve some of these problems? If so, then it’s probably time to make a change. The next move is to determine how much automation capability you really need. A fully automated system might not be the answer. Sometimes the best way to stay on budget and still reach production goals is to automate a single step in your process or even develop fixturing or error-proofing for a manual process. Either way, it is important to find an engineering firm that will help you determine what level of automation is right for you, your company, your budget and your team.
If you’d like to learn more about your automation options, check out some of INVOTEC’s past projects at www.invotec.com as a guide. Or if you’d like some advice from one of our automation experts, Click here to contact a member of INVOTEC’s applications team.
Check out the next articles in this “Changing Your Manufacturing Process” series, see below…
Part 2: How Much to Invest in Your Manufacturing Process
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