Getting the Most From Your Existing Manufacturing System

Manufacturing systems gained in popularity when the worldwide market took a significant hit in 2008, and companies throughout the globe were examining their budgets and trying to determine how they were going to do more with less. Fears over lost revenue, reduced spending and tumbling markets had many companies scrambling to change strategy. One focus for a number of manufacturers was getting the most out of their manufacturing system. While economic pressures have somewhat eased, the lessons learned in the economic downslide have carried into the recovery.

Getting the most from your existing manufacturing system makes good business sense, no matter what the overall market is doing. Taking such an approach assures you are getting the most out of your investment and that you have a value proposition to present to your CFO the next time you need to implement a manufacturing system that has a significant price tag attached.

Consider this scenario: a prospective vendor offers you a new machine that cuts the production time of your key product by 15 percent. On paper, the thought of cutting production time by that much can save your company considerable money. The catch here is that the machine itself cost $150 million to purchase, install and integrate into your system. You also discover that the support for the new machine has a monthly fee attached, which took your cost of operation up 5 percent. If the 15 percent savings is really just $1.50 per product, it will take you a while to justify that $150 million purchase – and don’t forget that added 5 percent.

Such proposals are not uncommon and to make the right decision for your business, you have to look at what you are doing today, where you want to be tomorrow and how you are going to get there. Now, let’s take the same scenario provided above, but add a new twist. You notice that the MRP Software you have in place is pretty robust, but you are only using about two thirds of the capabilities the solution offers. By implementing an additional tool or two, you improve your production time by 20 percent by simply leveraging a solution you already had in place – and you saved the company $150 million+ by not purchasing a new machine.

To be sure you are getting the full value out of your existing manufacturing system; take a close look at what you have in place. Are you using all of the available features? Do you have the latest update? Do you take advantage of consulting services offered by the vendor to be sure you are maximizing the capabilities of the system across your entire production line? Does this vendor offer upgrades on your current system that can streamline one of your processes that is currently done manually?

One of the best ways to be sure you are maximizing the current manufacturing system you have in place is to constantly monitor its performance. Don’t just monitor the performance of your production floor. Yes, this is an important step, but you have to make monitoring the manufacturing system a priority to be sure you are always on track and always improving. Once you start to slide on performance, it may be time to make a change.