What is production optimization?

Production optimization comprises a range of activities related to measuring, analyzing, modeling, prioritizing, and implementing actions to enhance productivity. 

Product optimization addresses these manufacturing problems:

  • Slow production lines
  • Long pending work in progress
  • Separate workstations overwhelmed with work in progress
  • Unnecessary space being utilized for storage
  • Multiple errors that require reworking
  • Bottlenecks at workstations
  • Extended times for delivery
  • Inconsistency in productivity
  • Convoluted production process and management

With production optimization, a company is in a better position to understand and manage its production processes and bottlenecks. Manufacturers optimize the system for productivity and delivery times. As a result, sales increase, and the company can think about expansion plans for the future.

Production optimization also monitors a range of performance through indicators, while encouraging employees to be responsible for eliminating wasteful practices. Some other benefits are reduced production times, improved productive capacity, and better quality--all at lower production costs.

How does production optimization work?

As with any process, production optimization works with the company first, identifying the main issues it has in its production process. Once done, the organization needs to have proper goals put in place, and a manager must be able to answer these questions:

  1. Has the organization identified specific bottlenecks and ascertained the needed resources to achieve production targets?
  2. Can the organization provide precise, objective, and quantitative data to improve processes and increase productivity?
  3. What is the strategy of the company? How is it defining achievable goals?
  4. Can the organization identify measurement, frequency, and calibration methods in its production processes?
  5. Can the organization identify and manage all possible hurdles to the optimization process (such as insufficient staffing information, communication, or software)?
  6. Can the organization modularize its activities and optimize every module?

Once all these questions are answered, the company needs to consider the various modeling, simulation, optimization, and control methods it will use. What is the input to each of them? Is it people or capital, natural resources, or return of investment issues? Is the organization looking to compete with others in the market, address a new law that has come in, or simply adapt to market demand? What are the variations the organization faces in each of these factors and why are there variations? What are the optimal input parameters? How are these optimal input parameters maintained? Are they always the same?

These considerations will continuously optimize and improve over time. Companies should learn how they can find and update newer sets of optimal input parameters, especially because products and raw materials change constantly. The optimal production criteria is determined by:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Quicker and better deliveries
  • Environment-safe products

Most production optimization methods make use of a major cost function analysis along with numerous input parameters (factors that can be controlled or not).

Benefits of production optimization

Production optimization can change manufacturing operations and make it efficient on multiple levels. There are a range of benefits that the organization can achieve if optimization is implemented correctly:

  • Improve the general efficacy of the equipment
  • Reduce production delays
  • Ensure a reduction in equipment breakdown
  • Improve equipment effectiveness
  • Monitor the availability of equipment and its performance regularly
  • Boost quality and yield performance
  • Predict production performance variations with the help of cloud-based ML to analyze wastage and spot inefficiencies
  • Reduce downtime or overtime and any unscheduled maintenance with AI to increase factory transformation
  • Optimize energy usage to save costs and the environment
  • Analyze sources of scrap, waste, and any inefficiencies with AI

Production optimization techniques

After setting the foundation for production optimization, businesses can use these methods to implement optimization:

Forecast market expectations

Every manufacturing business must estimate needed production volumes. Unfortunately, most organizations do not have estimates for future sales. Sales can be forecast by looking into historical sales data and prevailing market trends. With advanced reporting tools in place, an organization can access accurate insights into the company’s sales and inventory.

Manage inventory

A key tool to production planning and optimization is a quality inventory management process. This process is difficult to manually accomplish and should be automated.Automating the inventory management system will help a company view what resources it has on hand at any time. With a quality inventory management system, production planners can track inventory levels and automate stock replenishment. Automated systems can even forecast inventory requirements.

Prepare staff for production

Businesses should make sure both equipment and a workforce is available at all times. For good production optimization, it is important to estimate how many employees are needed in the production process and what their competency should be. Providing employees with the right tools and the necessary training on advanced machinery is essential.

Standardize steps and time management

Every production process needs to know where and when each step occurs and how much time it takes to complete. Keep in mind that not all stages occur in sequence--some occur in tandem, while some others follow a set series. Once the process has been mapped, it becomes easier to understand how long each process may take to be complete. For any repetitive activity, it is best to standardize the process.

Also, documenting all similar activities in the manufacturing process sets a baseline for the future, should there be a change in routes or timings of newer manufacturing processes. Creating a baseline helps companies speed up the production planning process.

Identify possible issues

The best way to anticipate possible problems in the production process is to collect historical data on similar jobs. With access to processing time, materials used, and failures, a company can apply the failure mode and effects analysis technique to analyze risk possibilities and reduce the chances of them occurring. With failure mode and effects analysis, a business will be able to study its processes in-depth and find ways to reduce the impact of any potential issues in operations.

Communicate plans

Employees must be aware of all the plans to optimize production, which can be done via manufacturing software. The plan, related work orders, and production schedules can be shared so that employees are aware of their responsibilities at all times and can check on the production system at any time.

Production optimization does what every business hopes to: constantly produce quality products in optimal time, keeping with the demands of the market.

production optimization diagram

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