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Warehouse operations are the foundation of any company that processes and ships orders. An efficient warehouse means that you’re optimizing labor costs, getting a good return on investment on your space, and, most importantly – ensuring your customers get their orders on time. At USC Consulting Group, we believe that warehouse operations can be used to boost your business’ growth. Want to learn effective strategies to do so? Keep reading to find out!
Reduce the Potential for Human Error
According to The Balance, human error is one of the most significant contributors to decreased productivity. Human error can set back deliverables, delay orders, and mess up operations systems. But how can you reduce such occurrences? Well, it will be critical to ensure that every employee undergoes proper training. This will help reduce the events of basic mistakes. However, there will always be a certain error level irrespective of training. To mitigate this, invest in solid warehouse design. Some solutions to implement in your design will be clearly labeled products, easy-to-access racks, and scannable items.
Organize Your Inventory Properly
A well-organized warehouse can pave the way for optimized operations. An intuitive workflow, logical storage, and segregated products will ensure your employees know where to go, what to do, and how to find items. By following a systematic method into your inventory organization, you’ll be able to process orders faster and with more ease. Below are some easy organization strategies to implement today:
- Best selling products close to the front
- Stack inventory higher to optimize space
- Use information and photographic labels
- Always store like products with like products
In addition to physically organizing your warehouse, keep everyone on track and productive through digital tools as well. For example, create a process map to allow your team to analyze processes and outcomes while assigning and reviewing tasks. This will keep your workflows organized, as the whole team will get both the micro and macro picture of what they’re working on.
Incentives for Workers
You’re relying a great deal on your employees when it comes to warehouse operations. You will have to keep your workforce happy and thriving to boost productivity. Setting up an accepting and uplifting workplace will be critical for this, as company culture sets the tone for employee performance. In addition, offer incentives to workers to motivate them to do better. Reward systems could be tiered or pay-based, but make sure the rewards are tangible and make a difference to your workers.
An essential part of any company’s operations is tracking results, Demonstrating Value reports. Besides monitoring marketing and financial performance, be sure to follow your operations performance. Set up metrics for evaluation, for example – time efficiency, capacity utilization, safety, production costs, and quality concerns. Use logistics technology to track these results consistently for reliable data, and then streamline from there. This is a great way to optimize operations, as it will keep you pivoting and adapting to change. Furthermore, warehouses have lots of moving parts. Tracking results helps narrow down which strategies are working and which aren’t. You also want to consider real-time data so you can see how each warehousing process is doing in a timely manner.
Running a warehouse is a complex puzzle, and it requires an excellent level of planning, physical optimization, and analysis. Be sure to follow these strategies to ensure that your warehouse operations run like a well-oiled machine – it is truly a great way to grow your business to the top.
Need additional support for optimizing your warehouse operations? USC Consulting Group helps companies reach their highest potential by improving operating excellence across the supply chain. Click here to learn more about what we do today.
*This article was written by Dean Burgess. Dean runs Excitepreneur, which celebrates the achievements of entrepreneurs. He understands that there are many types of entrepreneurs, and strives to provide helpful information to assist them in achieving their particular idea or goal.
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It’s been a bumpy ride for the automotive industry this past year. Back in November and December when the economy was running full speed ahead, automotive manufacturers had high expectations for robust sales activity in 2020.
Then, COVID-19 happened.
With frightening speed, the economy ground to a halt as states, employers, and officials implemented various measures to slow the spread of the virus, which ultimately resulted in layoffs and reduced buying activity. In a typical year, the number of motor vehicles sold runs between 17 million and 20 million. But the sudden decline in car sales has analysts forecasting an overall light vehicle sales total of 14 million nationwide by this year’s conclusion, CNN reported. Perennial leaders in auto sales — such as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — witnessed double-digit declines in quarterly sales compared to 2019. In response, automotive manufacturers slowed down output, a consequence of declining demand, assembly worker absences caused by COVID-19, and other supply chain disruptions.
Yet defying the odds, automakers appear to be back in the driver’s seat. As some of the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have lifted, the economy is in growth mode, with gross domestic product soaring at an annual rate of over 33% in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
While car sales during this same period were lower than this time last year, they finished far better than experts anticipated, including Cox Automotive Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs.
“It’s coming in better than we thought,” Krebs told CNN.
Here’s the problem: Consumers may be back in a buying mood, but automakers still aren’t operating at peak capacity. As Car and Driver magazine reported this past summer, in response to the effects caused by the pandemic, numerous nameplates pushed the pause button on several all-new or upgraded product reveals. During the average year, the upcoming year’s car models start arriving on dealer lots in the late summer. In 2019, for example, 11% of motor vehicles available for purchase were 2020 models. Today, the latest models represent just 2%.
“Consumers may be back in a buying mood, but some automakers aren’t operating at peak capacity.”
“They’re just sort of behind,” Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough told Car and Driver. “The white-collar workers are behind in planning the model-year rollovers; the factories have had a difficult time getting the supply chain up to speed.”
The same is true for used and preowned automobiles. As Edmunds.com’s Jessica Caldwell pointed out in a press release, used vehicle parking lots had few to any buyers in them initially, but now, what was unsold is going fast.
The question becomes, then, what strategies and planning can automotive manufacturers implement to ramp up production so inventory issues don’t show up in 2021? The following recommendations may help:
Keep an ongoing maintenance schedule for equipment
While assembly workers is critical to increasing output, the equipment leveraged are the workhorses of auto manufacturer factories, increasing and streamlining production seamlessly. But when they’re not working or encounter repair issues, everything slows down. That’s why it’s important to adhere to a maintenance schedule so equipment is well lubricated and bolts are properly fastened. From semi-automated lifting machines to die gripper cranes, preventive maintenance is critical to avoiding issues that can prevent assembly teams from reaching their production goals in a timely manner.
Review current systems and processes
When it comes to solving problems, you first have to recognize exactly what those are and why they’re happening. When it comes to output for automakers, it’s really been a confluence of events brought on by the pandemic, economic instability that resulted and how manufacturers responded. However, with slight or significant tweaks on the factory floor, teams may be able to maximize how much they produce. By mapping current production processes, crews may be able to isolate where the problems exist and uncover bottlenecks. This type of review may all help identify potential bottlenecks so they can be resolved before they occur.
Consider developing new protocols to keep teams healthy
One of the issues that automotive manufacturers encountered throughout the pandemic was absenteeism. The virulence and contagiousness of COVID-19, the symptoms of which often are similar to influenza, led to fewer people on assembly lines, leaving others to pick up the slack. While most people fully recover from the illness, a lack of personnel naturally leads to a slowdown. Firms may want to think about installing measures that can help workers avoid the potential for becoming sick. Whether it’s daily health screenings like temperature checks, social distancing measures, personal protective equipment, or more regularly scheduled deep cleanings between shift changes, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace.
Perform investigation into more automation
Automation is already a standard part of many automakers’ production processes, given it helps to maximize output, reduce costs and virtually eliminate mistakes that result from human error. But as technology is in a constant state of advancement, there may be systems out there that are better than what you have now. None of this is to say you should invest in more automation, but smarter machines can not only increase the speed of output but improve quality control and give crews the ability to handle issues that automation can’t solve.
Using automation as a supplement to your personnel can help you identify quality control issues that they may miss. As IndustryWeek points out, numerous quality control studies tracing back to the 1970s show human inspectors find 80% of the defect in manufactured parts. Leveraging automation can pick up the difference to increase efficiency, consistency, and — above all else — productivity.
Just like a major motion picture is more than the actors on screen, an automobile is made up of thousands of pieces, parts, metals and components. A supplier is bound to encounter supply chain issues at some point. Instead of relying on one, aim to diversify them so if one is out of what you need, you can pivot to a supplier that has the items necessary. Strategic sourcing is a discipline that is crucial to ongoing supply chain management.
From throughput to quality improvements or supply chain optimization, USC Consulting Group can help your company resolve issues and rev up your operations using the right methodologies. Contact us today to learn more.
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Modern businesses in almost every sector regularly greenlight operational improvement projects – internal initiatives designed to address serious shop floor deficiencies, boost product quality and output, and ultimately bolster the bottom line. However, a surprisingly large number of these efforts fail on multiple fronts, according to research from the Project Management Institute, an international professional organization for in-house strategic coordinators. For instance, an estimated 16 percent of the organizations that embarked on internal projects in 2017 experienced outright failure and surrendered one-third of their respective budgets in the process. These businesses attributed project failure to numerous variables, including ineffective vision-setting and poor communication.
How can enterprises looking to upgrade their operations via internal improvement programs avoid these missteps and the associated fallout? There are multiple solutions out there. However, few are as effective as strategic roadmaps. During this process, project stakeholders establish a long-term collaborative framework meant to streamline execution and increase the likelihood of an ideal outcome. Project teams essentially create the blueprints for success, making it easier for them to carry out key tasks and move forward without getting sidetracked or making major strategic missteps. That said, effective roadmapping requires serious effort. Here’s how internal improvement stakeholders can get started with this approach:
Unpack the Kaizen event
The strategy of a roadmap actually centers on specific collaborative meetups called Kaizen events. These assemblies come from the well-known Six Sigma process improvement methodology, which emphasizes iterative, efficient operational advancement. Kaizen events serve several key purposes, including:
- The assembly of all project stakeholders
- The evaluation of existing project workflows
- The development and deployment of process improvements
- The solicitation of clear buy-in from all project stakeholders
These are essential collaborative functions that might go unaddressed in looser project planning strategies. Additionally, team members often attend multiple Kaizen events throughout the lifespan of an internal initiative. This prevents the emergence of collaborative roadblocks or misunderstandings that could lay the groundwork for failure. However, businesses cannot simply put meetings on the calendar and expect their teams to communicate flawlessly and address all relevant pain points unprompted – there must be structure. This is where a strategic roadmap enters the picture.
Develop the Kaizen roadmap
Agendas build the foundation for effective meetings. The Kaizen roadmap does something similar, acting as an unchanging touchpoint for project team members in all departments. Most feature timelines overlain with specific collaborative tasks and sequential relationship details. Kaizen roadmaps also display the required effort levels and optimal durations associated with each scheduled task. This brand of planning makes it easier for teams to focus in on and address key variables in a timely manner.
What duties might a Kaizen roadmap include? Again, this varies depending on the project. That said, there are some relatively standard tasks. For instance, group data analysis is almost always a key activity, as Six Sigma, the genesis of the Kaizen event, emphasizes metric-based decision making. Additionally, businesses that host roadmapped gatherings of this kind often include time for current state evaluation, during which project stakeholders evaluate the status of a given initiative and assess the efficacy of its workflows.
In the end, strategic project management roadmaps centered on Kaizen events can make an immense impact on the shop floor, allowing businesses to roll out internal improvement efforts that generate actual return on investment. Here at USC Consulting Group, we have been helping companies embrace this approach for decades, lending them the guidance they need to bolster project team performance and realize revenue gains.
Contact USCCG today to learn more about our work.
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Learn more about project management best practices.
Every organization with major assets has different initiatives or projects it wants to pursue such as shutdowns, turnarounds, outages or other large scale capital projects. However, managing all the details that go into those efforts — from team coordination to stakeholder communication — requires a dedicated strategy. Furthermore, avoiding schedule overrun and staying within or under budget is critical. That’s where project management comes in, which helps leaders better monitor, control and execute projects by emphasizing:
- An established scope of work and delivery schedule.
- Different methodologies for different projects.
- Progress tracking and win sharing.
Want to learn more? Download our eBook “Getting Down to Business: The Essentials of Project Management.”
Planning an upcoming project? Contact us today to speak with our subject matter experts about your initiative.
Tenets of process improvement must, by nature, contain a certain degree of ubiquity. Processes are everywhere: on manufacturing production lines, in back-end administration, from the warehouses to the corner offices to cyberspace.
While there are many process improvement methodologies including Lean, Six Sigma and Kaizen, each methodology has a different approach to the problem. Therefore, choosing the right methodology for your business is quite important in terms of reaching a solution.
Despite the universality of process improvement, it can provide many valuable guidelines to industries seeking cost efficiency, optimization, standardization and/or enhanced quality. What are some of the most powerful principles?
1. Do not become distracted by change
Whether your business is Lean, Six Sigma, a little bit of both or neither, blind allegiance to process improvement does not itself achieve results.
“Look to give form to processes that lack it or those that could use a dose of uniformity.”
Modern businesses, fearful of inflexibility, have sought to re-identify their company cultures as ones with a better grasp on change and continuous improvement. As this new era in more malleable management awakens, however, some rigidity must remain, particularly in dealing with ad-hoc processes as opposed to established channels of production or service. Instead of homing in on reconstructing and re-reconstructing processes to squeeze out every last drop of efficiency, look to give form to processes that lack it or those that could use a heavy dose of uniformity.
2. Do not expect to improve everything all at once
Improvements should always have a benefactor, someone or a group of people who experience positive effects through implementation. Maybe it’s asset operators on the production line, maybe it’s human resources, maybe it’s suppliers or customers or regulators. However, there is one group of people process improvements could never and should never accommodate: everyone.
A process improvement should help a closed cadre of workers and create small reverberations of affirmative change throughout an organization. That said, some of the best improvements have little to no significant impact on anyone else. It’s the sign of a smooth integration. Achieving process improvement modularity, where change occurs compartmentally, is a victory all its own.
3. Do incorporate more data, more people
Earlier this year, a survey commissioned by Osney Media found while businesses utilize data as a means of studying their own performance, only 11% actually use data during strategic decision-making, the cornerstone of effective process improvement. Data can do more than tell a company when to pull the trigger – it can also teach it how to aim. Beyond that, cold hard data helps decision-makers win over employees who push back on process improvements not perceived as beneficial to them or their operations.
However, don’t let that lead you astray in terms of the role employee recognition plays in process improvement matters. Cross-functional teams serve a valuable purpose by ensuring all legitimate concerns are addressed, both on a department-by-department basis and also between departments.
When undertaking a new project or process improvement, organizations create action items that set change in motion. As the name suggests, an action item is a discrete task meant to be carried out to achieve a common goal. In regard to optimization, managers or supervisors typically assign action items after group meetings or cross-functional collaboration with leaner or more streamlined operations as the core objective underpinning everything.
Although action items may appear like simple tools anyone could master, they are, in fact, quite nuanced. Developing clear, concise action items improves a project’s chances of success and prevents risks from slowing projects down or dismantling them altogether.
Pay attention to the three prongs of every prosperous project
For a project to be considered successful, it must adhere to three standards:
- Teams met all their goals established at the onset
- Teams completed their goals on time
- Teams stayed on budget throughout
All action items comprising a project must distinctly address each of these components. Project managers who assign action items must, among other things, ask themselves:
- Can the person to whom I assign this action item accomplish it with the resources provided?
- How much time will this action item take to accomplish?
- How much money should an assignee spend to accomplish this action item?
Not following through may bring disastrous consequences. One study from the Project Management Institute reported low-performance project management organizations, those who did not heed these elements, risk much more money than high performers if given the exact same budget. With $1 billion to fund projects and little to no observance of these three principles for project management, low performers could endanger as much as 28 percent. High performers that keep goals, money and time on their minds only risk 2 percent.
Be careful when assigning one action item to multiple people
Some project management experts will argue the ratio of action items to people should always be 1:1. Others may allow leniency for a small group to take on an action item. And honestly, whatever verifiably works for an organization should be the rule of thumb.
However, a word of caution: When project managers appoint many people to perform a simple task, they imbue the assignment with unnecessary complexity. If managers feel like groups are crucial to finishing an action item, perhaps the action item in question hasn’t been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Project leaders may find it beneficial to continue dividing and assign action items from there.
“Uncompleted or incorrectly completed action items always create more action items.”
Understand how today’s action items branch off into tomorrow’s action items
Action items typically delineate stages or phases in a project, each one progressing further toward the accomplishment of a goal. The completion of one action item may, in turn, give rise to another or to multiple others. Employees assigned action items, as well as their managers, may find value in considering what lies ahead and how that may impact present work. If an action item involved travel to a remote location, for example, and managers knew another action item a week later would require the same trip, combining the two tasks may present savings in time and labor costs.
Additionally, while the potential of one action item to create another may not necessarily hold true, uncompleted or incorrectly completed action items always create more action items, many of which a project team may be incapable of solving. Let’s say an employee completes a task but spends much more of the budget than anticipated. What happens? This dilemma births action items focused on trimming costs elsewhere to make up from overspending in that one area. As such, project managers must stress to team members the importance of sticking to the script when carrying out action items. Failure to do so will only create more work for everyone and put more space between them and their objective.
Compartmentalizing project management into discrete chunks and delegating intelligently helps organizations home in on the finish line one step at a time. Before your next big project, be sure to review the finer points to creating action items so the whole team stays on task.
Process mapping allows businesses to chart out steps in a given system to understand them more fully. Virtually every process in any industry can and should be mapped, in order to conceptualize exactly where bottlenecks may exist, wasteful actions occur and, where emergency detours might be necessary to preserve production or service uptime.
As any cartographer will tell you, there are right and wrong ways to construct maps. While process mapping might not have been what map-makers like the ancient explorers had in mind, similar rules apply. We’ve collected a few best practices for creating valuable process maps that deliver results and hone operations.
“Process mapping works best with concrete tasks.”
1. Tangible processes map best
Almost any process materializes well onto a process map. It is, however, worth noting the small category of those that don’t: highly abstract processes. Process mapping works best with concrete tasks that include appreciable and quantifiable objectives.
If process map-makers find it keeps failing to address all the concerns that led them to begin the project in the first place, that may be a sign the prospective map ought to be broken down into smaller chunks, a set of process maps within a greater process map. The road to the top of the mountain is beaten by many footsteps, so don’t attempt to leap there in a single bound.
2. Know where you’ve been and where you’re going
Since it is a tool commonly attributed to an agenda of continuous improvement, process mapping exists within a time continuum. Perhaps an organization has used process mapping since its inception, or maybe it’s part of a new operational excellence initiative. In either case, the use of this resource represents a single moment in an organization’s unending commitment to changing for the better. As such, process mapping should exploit the context of time any way it can.
“Treating process maps like historical documents can provide valuable insight.”
Process mapping can provide valuable insight as to how a company’s performance has improved or declined – a great metric for change management – as well as what sorts of process maps might be worthwhile in the future. Concise documentation is always needed to flesh out the story around the map: the reasons for updating, iterations of experimentation with process changes or shifts, or whether the team reached its goals at that time in history.
These notes will be informed by legacy and, in turn, inform future mappers. After all, process changes may pave the way for whole new avenues of possibility. Most of all, meticulousness ensures no step in the process goes unheeded and operations have the highest potential to succeed.
3. Strive for simplicity
All that said, these notes should be supplementary to process mapping and not exist on the map itself. Process maps should clearly and succinctly outline a system in the order it should be performed, with careful attention paid to visual simplicity. Save the extra documentation for planning meetings, but leave it off the map itself to prevent confusion or worse: non-use.
4. Try cross-functional mapping – but only when you’re ready
While all process maps are subject to time, only some are subject to a single department. In many instances, process mapping is most beneficial when it goes beyond a single silo. However, cross-functional process mapping adds a new dimension of complexity, as different departments may be subject to requirements, regulations, customs and, other kinds of checks and balances.
Gain some experience with a few simpler processes before tackling organization-wide process mapping challenges. Cross-functional maps can bring about significant improvements, but only if they’re established and implemented with speed and accuracy honed through experience.
“Every step from beginning to end should result in some tangible value.”
5. Distinguish value at every turn
Process mapping is very much a value-based activity. Every step from beginning to end should result in some tangible value for the organization and/or its customers, even if the benefit is simply a more optimized system. But to accomplish this, the map-maker must examine what value means for their organizations – and their organizations alone – as it pertains to each component of their process maps as well as the “big picture” objective.
Say a manufacturer wants to create a process map for an equipment changeover that includes a recently established standardized method operators have been asked to perform. Although the overarching reason for standardization might be to improve lead times, each step within the process map should demonstrate a quantifiable time management improvement over past operations:
Has the location of the equipment components necessary for changeover moved so they’re physically closer to the operator? Does the asset need to be equipped with different resources like raw materials or packaging? If so, how with a process mapping change factor into reloading?
However, the value in a single step doesn’t necessarily have to align with the process map’s general objective. So long as it’s of benefit to either the business or the client, the process map succeeds.
In the coming decades, the field of medical device manufacturing will be put to the test. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 75 million baby boomers are reaching retirement age in the near future. Now more than ever, healthcare in general will need to find a functional way to accommodate so many late-in-life patients. And seeing as the number of millennials exceeds 83 million, a long-term solution is vital to the industry’s success. A system must be put in place that both adequately provides services to baby boomers today and is sustainable enough to at least lay the foundation for healthcare’s future. After all, the U.S. population is only getting bigger.
Medical device manufacturing will play a large, active role in how U.S. healthcare reinvents itself in the modern age, especially with the rise of the Internet of Things, a growing inter-operable network of wirelessly connected devices. A Goldman Sachs report on medical technology found devices like implantables and other forms of monitoring equipment have the power to lower healthcare costs for both providers and patients. Since cost stands among the single greatest concern for both parties, innovations in medical device manufacturing can be considered one of the most crucial drivers piloting this healthcare revolution.
That said, if medical device manufacturers cannot develop new equipment with quickness and efficiency, the medical industry as a whole loses a level of responsiveness it will desperately require during this transitory period. This industry can increase its efficiency by optimizing its research and development stages to help build an advanced infrastructure of digital awareness that will make low-cost, high-tech healthcare a reality?
“Manufacturers allocate more money to R&D, but generate fewer products
Never compromise on quality – reinforce it with process mapping
A study published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery stated during the last six decades, the number of new treatments created for every $1 billion spent on research and development has declined by around 50 percent every nine years. In short, drug and medical device manufacturers allocate more money to R&D, but generate fewer products. Though this factor may indicate a need for efficiency improvements during a given product’s clinical trial stages, for the time being, manufacturers have no other choice but to find areas in R&D to cut for the sake of cost efficiency.
However, regulation from the Food and Drug Administration has only become more stringent in the last few decades with little sign of loosening. Reducing costs, therefore, should not jeopardize quality of the products under review.
Unconnected though it may seem, envisioning better layouts of a medical device manufacturer’s work cells on the production floor can increase efficiency by improving throughput and reducing resource costs, but potentially also improving a device’s quality. According to CIRTEC Medical Systems, O- and U-shaped production lines as well as intelligently placed tools and materials at every workstation increase efficiency by both reducing wasteful movement and action. Instead of hiring more employees or scaling up costly assets, manufacturers could instead strengthen R&D and standard operations through process mapping to gain a substantial efficiency margin.
Efficiency gains in one area often bolsters success in another. Streamlining R&D means manufacturers are able to move into the production stages faster. Reducing waste in manufacturing creates a greater pool of resources to encourage innovation in R&D
Medical device manufacturers can integrate new technology into their operations
In-house tech takes center stage in R&D, innovation timeline
As we just touched on, rudimentary organizational upgrades can impact operational efficiency in extraordinary ways. Outside of the production floor, however, there are plenty of other opportunities to incorporate more consolidated, actionable lines of inter-departmental communication to that very end. But before the medical device manufacturing industry can accomplish those goals, companies within may need to overcome certain stigmas regarding the on-boarding of new internally facing technology.
A poll conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found executives in medical device manufacturing expect increases in innovation, but around 86% have yet to focus their directives on enhancing the processes directly related to fast-tracking new products from R&D through their releases to market. Moreover, of the executives surveyed, only 12% use advancements like mobile technology, data analytics, and cloud technology to “create new business models that center on clinical and consumer dynamics.”
While these technological additions to the world of medical device manufacturing cannot purport any innate efficiency improvements, their absence in an industry dedicated to the advancement of healthcare through state-of-the-art computerized machinery doesn’t make much sense. As the nature of patient care turns a corner, so too should the organizations leading the charge, which means laying the groundwork for more intelligent, responsive health services through the integration and development of dynamic digital assets that allow employees to communicate data comprehensively.
To learn more about the importance of medical device design, check out Toptal’s article Prioritizing Health Pros’ Pain Points in Connected Medical Device Design
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Process maps can help you improve operations and add value to your organization.
In lean manufacturing, process maps are powerful tools that can help you understand what your current processes look like now, and what they should be. On continuous improvement projects they are essential. If you have embarked on the journey of making your facility more efficient, but are facing difficulty figuring out exactly where you need to make changes, you should consult with proven operations consultants who can use process maps to help identify your problem areas and eliminate them.
Process maps provide a realistic view of a production process
According to Six Sigma Material, that process maps involve the creation of detailed flow diagrams of processes, using color coded symbols. These maps provide a high-level view of what operations look like and how processes work with one another. The intention behind using process maps is to help you see your processes as they really are. This can be a very valuable learning experience for you, especially if you are ready to start making improvements.
“Consultants can help you identify automation opportunities, duplication, redundancy, delays, and idle time.”
Using process maps, operations consultants can help you identify automation opportunities, duplication, redundancy, poor decision-making, delays, and idle time. Addressing any one of these areas can raise efficiency at your plant, but addressing them all is a game changer. In lean manufacturing, this is known as waste elimination. Process maps are documents that should be updated and analyzed on a regular basis. The more detail they have, the easier it will be for you to have the best process and capture opportunities.
Enhance your value stream with process maps
According to Lean Manufacturing Tools, process maps can add value and reduce costs in an organization. They are one of the most important tools in a consultant’s kit. It is important to point out, however, that process maps are only helpful if you take action. It is essential to have a clearly defined goal to work toward. In this way, the analysis of your process map will be based on amending existing processes to get you to where you need to be.
A comprehensive process map captures your value stream – the processes that your product goes through, from raw material to customer delivery. In your value stream, a product goes through a series of steps that either add value or waste time. Done right, a process map will find those weak areas and allow you to improve them. All non-value adding steps and delays should be fixed and reflected in the next iteration of the process map. As previously mentioned, this involves taking action, which will necessitate educating and training plant staff – another area where manufacturing consultants shine.
Lean Manufacturing Tools also pointed out that depending on the purpose of the mapping, there are various tools that can be employed. Before mapping, you should know exactly what it is you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to fix an individual work cell or the whole supply chain. Value stream mapping, for example, will help you see your whole process, but it won’t provide enough detail to analyze a specific process.
Use process maps to improve your operations and add value to your organization.
A comprehensive view of a facility’s processes
Six Sigma Material explained that a successful process mapping exercise combines all types of diagrams and should show you your processes from a macro bird’s-eye view as well as on a granular level, but accomplishing this will require effort from your whole team. Additionally, improving your operations will involve educating everyone on what the processes are like and how they should be improved. Some improvements are self-evident, others need a little bit of extrapolation.
If you attempt to create process maps on your own and they don’t end up perfect, don’t worry. There are many software programs that can help you handle the complexity involved. These solutions can help you identify rework loops, communication issues, delays, and other issues. Additionally, you can create a brown paper process map, which combines many different mapping tools on a roll of paper that is often hung on a wall. You may be shocked to discover the number of steps involved in creating one of these, as well as the people and forms involved in a basic process. You may also find yourself wanting to dig deeper. However, if this seems difficult, you should probably consult with a manufacturing consulting firm with a proven track record in lean manufacturing techniques. Lean principles are all about improving your value stream by removing obstacles, delays, and other inefficiencies. In this area, getting outside help is a good idea so that you can successfully achieve your desired results.