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Maximize Existing Resources

Industry 4.0



Published on

Jul 25, 2021

Production targets are often unmet for manufacturers that have high-mix, low-volume operations because of lost capacity in setups, changeovers, and loading parts. Here's how to fix it.

There’s no doubt that the manufacturing world is volatile. From constantly growing labor and material costs to wildly unpredictable demand, manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to get ahead of the competition and maximize profits. A major tool implemented to ensure a leg-up in the market and the profitable capture of demand is simple, yet often overlooked by far too many competitors: maximizing existing resources.

Production targets are often unmet for manufacturers that have high-mix, low-volume operations because of lost capacity in setups, changeovers, and loading parts. The difference between expectations and reality regarding machine utilization is particularly outstanding, as Machine utilization on average is close to 25% - a notable difference from the 60%-70% uptime assumed by most manufacturers. This hidden loss is hard to quantify without having an up-close look into a shop. Tracking operations and strategic investing in technological and process improvements are vital to understanding operational realities in manufacturing. To do this, leading manufacturers use tools like machine monitoring to create an accurate, real-time baseline of operations necessary for consistent goal completion in production, quality, cost, and delivery.

Through implementation of machine monitoring, a lot of manufacturers are faced with the unfortunate truth of their inefficient machine utilization. Shops learn from their data that machinists are held back from running machines through no fault of their own. Issues such as waiting for inspections, materials, or loading of parts slows down efficiency and results in slower uptimes. Manufacturers are discovering that in everyday operations, machinists are clearly unable to devote themselves to higher-skilled tasks, such as programming and adjusting settings, because manually loading parts monopolizes way too much time. By quantifying the downtime cause by unloading and loading parts and analyzing the trade-off based on rate of capacity, innovative manufacturers are now choosing to embrace automated solutions, such as robots and CNC automation, to free up time and maximize existing resources. Further, getting automated text alerts when machines go down help machinists confidently run unattended production, effectively avoiding the mundane side of manufacturing and focusing on other pressing (and more fun) projects. Visual “scoreboards” of real time production metrics after installing automation have also been utilized by top competitors in manufacturing to instill excitement and boost morale, as workers can see the benefits of automation and visualize the success of their investment. By engaging in more value added-work, manufacturers reap the benefits of maximizing existing resources, stay ahead of the competition, and ensure a profitable outcome.

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