Anyone involved with manufacturing in any industry or on any scale understands how complex of an endeavor it really is. Manufacturing is essentially an accumulation of large and complex systems integrated with one another to create a system even larger and more complex.
Manufacturing managers have to closely study the data produced by this system in order to monitor and maintain its effectiveness. But as a consequence of the volume of data involved and the sheer number of metrics that can come into play, it’s not always easy to know where to find the best insights. These are the ones you will want to focus on in your quest for improving manufacturing processes:
- Cycle Time – This tells you exactly how long it takes for a product to make its way through the entire manufacturing process. A faster time is always ideal as long as you are not compromising quality or putting too much stress on the distribution department.
- Time of Changeover – A changeover is when one machine or system is converted for a different use. The time the changeover takes tells you a lot about how agile and adaptable your manufacturing processes are as a whole.
- Throughput – Knowing how much product a specific machine, process, or team is able to produce over a set amount of time is crucial for understanding your true productivity. With a tool like ERP manufacturing in place you can study throughput on both a macro and micro level in order to optimize the way you do things.
- Capacity Utilization – Many manufacturing operations are not operating at 100% capacity. Measuring capacity utilization tells you a lot about how well you’re provisioning your resources.
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness – This is actually a range of metrics designed to reveal how effective a piece of equipment is. Monitoring this metric can help you spot problems, schedule maintenance, and order replacements sooner.
- Availability – The amount of time you might actually operate can be starkly different than the amount of time you planned to operate. Considering the difference as a ratio tells you a lot about how effective or ineffective your predictions and plans really are.
- Yield – One of the oldest manufacturing metrics is still one of the most revealing. Look at both your total yields and the number that had to be destroyed or reworked because of defects. High yields are not an asset if the products can’t be sent to market.
- Returns and Rejects – Customers are the ultimate judges of whether a manufacturing process is effective. Closely monitor the number of returns, and look for spikes as evidence that something is off in your production process.
- Incoming Supplier Quality – Finished goods reflect the quality of the materials they were made with. Track the quality and consistency of the goods you rely on from your suppliers, and be very cautious if the quality starts to slip.
- Order Management Success – There are multiple metrics related to how well you’re able to fulfill orders at the culmination of the manufacturing process. Improving these metrics directly elevates the quality of the customer experience.
Data is the one tool you need to transform your manufacturing process for the better. But trying to make sense of this data on your own is frustrating at best and impossible at worst. Instead, rely on tools that either eliminate or automate the biggest data-management challenges. That way you can glean the strongest insights in the least amount of time. The right investment in data-driven IT can help you improve every aspect of your manufacturing process and build your company into a titan of industry.