The goal of most manufacturing organizations is the same: build great products in a repeatable way. That requires good manufacturing processes — which obviously takes more than just having the appropriate gauges, fixtures and training in place.
In a recent blog post, we shared 5 steps manufacturers can take to prepare for growth. Here we break down the “Know your process” step in more detail and recommend how to ensure solid manufacturing processes.
For an assembly process that is clear-cut and ready to grow, follow these three tips:
Tip 1: Document the assembly process
Capture all your manufacturing and quality processes on paper or in electronic format. If you work with a contract manufacturer (CM), be sure to document their processes too. That way, if you need to bring in another plant you can easily share assembly information. Knowing your current build processes will also help you prepare for making improvements and allow you to move the product to another partner or facility if necessary.
Tip 2: Calculate yields and rework costs
Once you’ve documented how you build, examine how well you build. If you’re left with a large scrap pile after each run, you can be certain you’re wasting a lot of money. Preventing material from becoming scrap in the first place, instead of reworking it, can save your company significant dollars.
Tip 3: Identify repeatable processes
Aspects of your process that are not easily repeatable can have a large impact on product reliability. Find out if there are labor-intensive parts of the assembly process. And if so, do they require precise skills and extensive training?
Manufacturing processes requiring that “special human touch” are difficult to replicate and can prevent you from easily expanding your production. Simple ways to increase the repeatability of your process include adding fixtures, gauges and clear acceptance tests. A precision fixture is often more easily replicated across multiple workstations compared to a specialized operator and can provide more repeatable results.
Manufacturing processes and beyond
Fine-tuning your manufacturing processes is a great place to start but it’s not the only place to focus. Check out the other steps on how to prepare for growth in our Be ready when opportunity knocks blog post.