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Obstacles typical in manufacturing

Manufacturing has never been an easy task, not since the industrial revolution. Where would we be without it?

In the old days, manufacturing obstacles were mainly technological. Today the obstacles related to manufacturing are based purely on economics. In today's competitive marketplace, being able to produce a product quickly, with few defects, and at an affordable price are essential to market survival.

Let's discuss some of the economic barriers that make accomplishing the ideal difficult.

Suppliers are an essential part of the manufacturing process. If you are building a specialized radio transmitter, you are basically assembling electronic components. You will need diodes, resisters, transistors, coils, printed circuit boards, and enclosures. If this is not a mass produced item, then you will want to make them when they are ordered, otherwise you will end up like a fast food restaurant with too many hamburgers left over after lunch time. Items that are not needed are expensive to make, and storing an inventory of manufactured items that are not needed is not good for business. However, if you can't get the parts you need when you need them, then you can't be flexible enough to be able to deliver your product as quickly as you would like. You also don't want to have to bank a lot of supplies. It is the same problem as storing an inventory of manufactured goods. The ideal situation is to order and receive your supplies as quickly as possible. You may want to have a relationship with several different suppliers so that if one is unable to deliver your parts, then you have someone else to go to.

But how do you know if the supplier has what you need? Computers are amazing things. Think of how the internet and networking has changed the way business is done. Supplier and customer can share information using the internet. The manufacturer can make sure that the supplier has what he needs in stock, and order them just in time. But what if time and time again, some of the parts that you normally use are not available, or have become obsolete? This is the time for your engineers to use the above mentioned information technology to see what the latest and greatest parts could be used in a modified design of the product.

If your product is in high demand, and you are not able to deliver enough products, then your customers will have to wait until you finally get around to filling their order. This is when you need to figure out how to produce your product faster. You need to locate bottlenecks that are delaying the entire process. Once again, a modern information system is crucial in measuring how long it is taking to produce the item. Measuring the time it takes for different steps of the process will help you figure out how to improve that part of the process.

Another obstacle to successful manufacturing is too many defects. You have to stand by your work, and make good on products that have something wrong with them. Tracking these defects and analyzing them using statistical analysis can help you narrow the band of the number of defects. Manufacturers should be familiar with quality control methodologies. These methodologies were designed to help reduce defects by analyzing and improving manufacturing processes.

With every manufacturing obstacle comes an opportunity to solve that obstacle. With today's technology and accumulated knowledge, there is no obstacle that cannot be surmounted.

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