In manufacturing or any other type of business for that matter, a balanced production line is important to running a tight ship and for cutting costs and thereby increasing revenue. A lot of businesses fail to run balanced production lines. This is due to managerial oversight or a mistakes being made on the factory floor. Whatever the case, an inconsistent production line must be corrected immediately. Here is how to create a balanced production line:
- Time everything. From the moment you get the materials out of the box to the shipping of the finished product, time the entire operation. Knowing how long it takes for you to make a finished product is essential to a balanced production line. This allows you to see where you take too long to do a certain task and thus correct it to make a more efficient production line. Time the production line as a whole and also time every individual step to get accurate and precise measurements.
- Human systems. If you have personnel on the production line, you can be sure that there will be instances of human error. Humans are not machines and thus can and will make mistakes. This is why they must be properly motivated, given ample training and sufficiently compensated. Overworking them will cause burn-out while giving them too little to do will waste their work potential.
- Automated systems. Since machines are designed to be perfect and not make mistakes, they must be properly cared for. Maintenance of automated systems is important to a production line to ensure that the machines continue to perform at optimum levels. Once they start to depreciate in value and wear down, they will need to be taken care of and restored. Eventually, machines have to be replaced with newer models. Also, you have to make sure that machines are working at full capacity. If they are capable of producing 1,000 units an hour but are only working at 80% capacity, you are missing out on 200 more units. If need be, you have to redesign your entire production line and acquire new machinery if you want to improve your processes.
- Minimize inventory. Minimizing inventory reduces costs and wastage. Find a way to increase production so that you do not accumulate large holding costs and produce more goods.
- Avoid wastage. Other forms of wastage include excess movement on the part of human personnel, transportation time and waiting time. Finding a way to make use of all this wasted time is critical to a balanced production line. Since during waiting and transportation time nothing is being done to improve the raw materials, you must find a way to shorten it.
- Reorganize layout. Drastic times call for drastic measure and sometimes, you have to scrap the current production line layout if it promotes wastage and excess costs. Reorganize your factory layout so that you can decrease total production time, minimize unnecessary movements and processes and generally increase productivity.
A balanced production line can be achieved only through careful planning and preparation. Follow the steps above to come up with your own effective and efficient processes.