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Making your manufacturing process faster and better

Have you ever wondered why more and more manufacturing operations have left and gone overseas? American workers expect to earn a much higher wage than do workers of developing nations. So why don't all manufacturing jobs leave the country and go elsewhere. American companies would rather keep their plants in the United States if the could. There are a lot of economic and political benefits for doing so, but in order to do so, they must be able to justify this decision. In the competitive business world, a decision like this can be crucial.

One of the things that need to factor into this decision is the productivity of a manufacturing process. It is easy to justify keeping a particular operation if you can show that you can do it with fewer and better workers than you could overseas. If you could add to the equation that you can produce results faster and with fewer defects, then you will be able to make a real case for keeping the operation at home. How do you do this?

It's a cliché, but you have to work smarter rather than harder, but that is exactly what needs to be done. A manufacturing process manager needs to identify bottlenecks. They need to locate and reduce defects. They need to figure out how increase production when needed, and keep machines and workers productive when cut backs are needed due to lack of demand. They need to identify causes of production downtime, such as the frequent wearing out of moving parts, and eliminate these causes by proper maintenance and replacement of moving parts before they break.

The manufacturing company needs to invest in technology. A lumberjack will cut down more trees with a chainsaw than an axe. Using machines that are outdated in order to save a back is a bad idea. This can create a bottleneck. You don't want your customers to have to wait six weeks for you to fill and ship an order. In a perfect world, a manufacturer's goal would be to produce and ship your product at an amazing speed and price.

How can a manufacturer achieve these goals?

Well, to start with, a manufacturer needs to invest in information technology and lots of record keeping. You need to record date and time stamps of the products at the beginning and end of their voyage from creation to delivery, and every stage in between. This will help your analysis software to determine how long it takes to get the item from point A to point B to point C. You will be able to identify if a particular production line is producing more defects than another. You will be able to cross reference the product identifier of a defective product that needs to be replaced with a supplier. If items are damaged in shipping, you will be able to see if there are trends that might reveal something that you can use to improve your process. It cannot be overemphasized that you need a reliable, modern, and probably expensive information system. It will pay for itself by helping you make your manufacturing process faster and better.

You need expert data mining. Getting the information into your system is only half the battle. You also need an expert that is trained in statistical analysis to make the information come to life. An expert that is trained in a quality control methodology is essential to locating trends, bottlenecks, wasted raw materials, and causes of production downtime. He will be able to make recommendations for additional data inputs as well so he can get the answers to his questions.

By working smarter using information technology and data mining, you will be able to produce better products, faster.

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