Increase in Manufacturing Causing Slower Delivery: How to Take Control of the Situation to Improve Lead Times (Part 2)

posted on: Thursday March 23, 2017

truck-1030846_640In part 1, we celebrated the recent PMI that showed February 2017 had the highest monthly growth in manufacturing since August of 2014. With growth come new challenges for manufacturers, one being that suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand, and therefore, delivery times from them are slowing. This can hurt lead times for manufacturers. So what can they do to overcome factors that seem out of their control?

We’ve been referencing Joseph H. Berk’s publication, “Delivery Performance Improvement.” In it, he identifies six “Ps” that most commonly hurt delivery performance. In the last article, we focused on procurement, which gives manufacturers a proactive strategy for receiving parts on time. Here we will offer a more reactive approach – one that manufacturers can take to compensate when late deliveries are a reality truly out of their control: productivity

Improving productivity is not a desire exclusive to supplier lead times. Any manufacturer benefits from better productivity; the need to do so is simply exaggerated when trying to remain on time in the face of obstacles like parts coming in late.

Berk’s stance on productivity is based on evaluating capacity (the number of machines and people available to do work vs the work load itself) and lead times. To integrate the two, Berk stresses the importance of measuring efficiency.

“Efficiency = actual time/standard time.”

He states, “To use this productivity measure, a plant has to have work standards for all tasks (or at least for most of the tasks performed during the manufacturing process).   There simply is no way to get around this.  Some might view developing and having standards as a burden, but in our experience, without such standards a manufacturing organization is simply guessing at its costs, schedules, and lead times.”

Standardization is the core of most programs designed to improve manufacturing processes. If your organization does not have standards in practice, or they are not followed, doing so will make an immediate impact on production. Many strategies fall under the umbrella of Lean. There are numerous approaches to improving efficiency; we have a cheat sheet on the most successful Lean methods here. Cellular manufacturing is also proving to be a powerful Lean model for efficiency. If none of those strategies are appropriate for your plant, evaluate standardization itself to develop the best plan for you.

Standardization is more than uniformity in processes. It is also about choosing the best standard to implement. When it comes to manual material handling, the right equipment will make a dramatic difference in efficiency, productivity, and lead times. Load Mover Inc. works with manufacturers with these needs to identify where a battery-powered tug would transform not only the process but also the safety/injury rate for employees. We are well versed in Lean strategies and can help you understand the concept to optimally implement a power tug into your process. Tell us about your goals: 952-767-1720, or email