What is the process improvement plan you have in place to reduce cycle time at your manufacturing facility? That sentence is a mouthful, but it contains a lot to think about.
Do you even have a plan to reduce overall cycle time? How about cycle time on individual processes? Excuse me, do you even consider cycle time at all?
You really need to consider the total time consumed during the manufacturing of any one given item that you produce. If you only produce one item this might be a little smoother process. What is the quickest you can manufacture a quality product? Making something fast isn’t going to do you any good if you are sacrificing quality to get that speed.
A beginning step in this process is to look at one item that you produce and go through that product’s life in your manufacturing facility. How many steps are in the process and how long does each step take?
The next thing you need to think about is what is the time between those steps? With some automated processes that time may be very minimal, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be examined. With other processes, such as those encountered at assembly facilities that interim time might be transporting a component to another building or even another facility altogether.
How does that transportation happen, and why does it go where it goes?
Once you have examined all of the steps and the linkages between them, that is when the real work starts. Why is each aspect done the way it is done? Does each operator/production worker do the job in the same fashion? Is there an easier/quicker/more efficient way to do step one?
This gets into your standard operating procedures. Do you even have standard operating procedures? (SOP’s) That may not be as far-fetched a question as you might imagine. Many companies start out at small operations and grow, but never really get away from that unique mindset.
When Henry Ford was working with the process of the assembly line many of his original competitors were still working with the artisan approach and scoffed at his efforts to make the parts on his automobile as exchangeable as the workers who were on his lines. The thought of quality was in their heads and they just couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea of a quantity of quality. Those businesses have since either changed their ways or are gone.
But the artisan approach still exists. Workers and companies embrace their unique contributions and sometimes feel that quality cannot be defined; that quality is something achieved by some sort of magic, but we know that for a business to succeed and move to the next level standard operating procedures must be in place and must be strictly followed.