Reaching a consistently high throughput isn’t always easy. Manufacturing facilities are under constant pressure to do more with less while operating in very complex systems. It can be hard to know where to start looking for opportunities for improvement when trying to drive a high throughput. The areas to focus on that will provide the highest return on investment (ROI) aren’t always self-evident.
Worximity is in the business of helping manufacturers improve their manufacturing key performance indicators (KPIs), including throughput. The Worximity TileBoard provides real-time manufacturing data and analytics dashboards that are available at your team’s fingertips. Because of what we do, we have experience across numerous food processing plants and can provide insights into the top factors that affect whether or not a manufacturer will have high throughput.
Below are the top factors that affect throughput.
Reducing or Eliminating Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are part of the process that limit the continuous production flow. The overall impact on production is a limited throughput and possibly a lot of time and energy wasted in managing product accumulation downstream of the bottleneck.
Unfortunately, a line or facility’s production throughput is only as fast as the slowest machine in the line, meaning that bottlenecks can hold an entire facility back to a slower throughput than is possible. Reducing bottlenecks to achieve greater throughput levels or eliminating the bottleneck as an issue entirely can allow the whole facility to achieve high throughput. This optimization can be accomplished in a number of ways, but you can’t fix what you can’t see.
Using real-time production monitoring software like Worximity TileBoard will help you measure the actual throughput of each stage of your production systems to identify bottlenecks under all production conditions. Once you have an accurate model of your production systems, you can simulate the outcomes of making changes to each stage.
Downtime is any time during which a machine is scheduled to be in production but isn’t actively producing the product. This can be the result of machine malfunction or breakdown, maintenance on a machine or facility, and worker or material shortage, among many other causes. While the cause of downtime is being dealt with, large amounts of productive work time are being wasted, leading to a drop in productivity, profits, and throughput. When a line is experiencing downtime, throughput drops to zero.
Reducing downtime increases the amount of productive production time, increasing throughput over the course of days and weeks significantly. Downtime can be reduced in a number of ways, including performing machine maintenance, training employees to diagnose and deal with downtime causes, and using real-time monitoring to quickly respond to downtime events.
The percentage of good products produced per total of products produced is referred to as quality. In a food processing plant, variations in throughput can have a deleterious effect on quality. When the production rate is above or below standard, product filling processes can produce errors and foods can be overcooked or undercooked.
The more defective products that are produced, the lower the throughput, because defective products can’t be sold without reworking and therefore won’t be counted in throughput statistics. Drops in quality can be caused by machine malfunctions, worn-out machine parts, human error, and bad raw materials. Improving quality will increase the number of products produced that meet quality control standards, thereby increasing throughput. Quality can be improved via preventive machine maintenance, part replacement, machine optimization, employee retraining, and the use of quality, recently acquired raw materials. High throughput isn’t just about the number of items produced—it’s about the number of items produced that meet a quality standard.
Human error can lead to a number of issues that can reduce throughput, including downtime events and defective products. Human error refers to any mistake or problem in production caused by employees. Training new employees, retraining existing employees, or updating training of existing employees can help to dramatically decrease the frequency at which human error becomes a problem, which in turn can decrease the number of mistakes made and increase throughput.
Employees are often motivated by real-time feedback regarding how their efforts are resulting in improvements.
Properly maintaining machines can prevent several of the problems listed above, facilitating maximum productivity and throughput levels in manufacturing facilities.
Correct machine setup directly translates to scheduled maintenance, with little unplanned downtime caused by equipment problems. Simply monitoring throughput allows managers, maintenance techs, and supervisors to adhere to the production equipment design standards and ensure planned production output.
Monitoring manufacturing processes can help managers identify times when maintenance is necessary, such as when defects occur more frequently, throughput drops, or downtime occurs. Creating preventative maintenance plans to prevent unexpected downtime events from occurring can also help to reduce problems in production and increase throughput. An interesting outcome of implementing a real-time machine monitoring solution like Worximity TileBoard is that data trends can be analyzed and the resulting insights can be applied to a predictive maintenance program.
Monitoring All Processes
Monitoring all manufacturing processes can reveal problems in real time and can give exact information about the location, shift, and time in which the problem occurred. This kind of information allows the team to identify and diagnose problems more quickly, preventing downtime and defects from becoming issues, and increasing throughput as a result. Additionally, monitoring production metrics over time can reveal trends in production levels of certain machines and lines that may not be noticeable at first glance. These trends can show which conditions lead to the highest and lowest throughput levels and when a machine or line productivity drops, enabling easier root cause analysis.
Reaching a higher production throughput can be accomplished in a number of different ways, with focus placed on specific individual problems or small improvements to many problems. No matter which problems you choose to address, production monitoring will help you diagnose those problems and plan for their elimination. Our experience tells us that focusing on the top factors above is likely the quickest path to high throughput and higher ROI.
All of the factors above contribute to overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Benchmarking your OEE is the best way to get started improving the factors above. With the Worximity 30-Day OEE Assessment, you’ll know exactly where you stand and begin to see the potential impact of making improvements to your throughput by addressing the top factors above.