In the world of industrial manufacturing, every element of an assembly line is important. Taking extra time to place a part, anneal a material, or cool a finishing product costs money. Heating a product for a necessary process even a few degrees off the mark can cost the product quality, and the company reputation. To get the very best results in the very best amount of time, there is a need to hone efficiency and craftsmanship. Our two-part series explores the methods and tips that can help you streamline and improve your production process
Here at HIX Industrial Ovens and Dryers, we know manufacturing intimately. Not only do we run our own manufacturing line, but our industrial ovens and dryers play key roles in many industrial processes. If you are looking for the best industrial oven or dryer for light and medium industries, then check out our website. We have stock ovens, but specialize in high-grade custom industrial ovens for the client who really wants to get the most out of their production process. Check us out!
Tip #1: Keep a Log
This is more of a pre-step, but this can tell you about changes and gradual degradation in your manufacturing efficiency that will tell you where to focus your improvements. Any line can slow down over time due to lack of machine maintenance or creeping inefficiency in the workforce. Logs for your equipment will help your business troubleshoot issues that need addressing and help you maintain a regular maintenance cycle.
Logs will help your business prepare for continuous upgrading and to schedule out improvements or replacements to certain areas of your production line, while letting you know if adjustments to your production process has had positive results.
Along with maintenance and work quality logs, make sure that you are keeping process logs. This can help you create repeatable processes by following the same system that created superior results, and improve the quality of your product. At HIX Industrial Ovens & Dryers we offer custom and line annealing, drying, and batch oven options for automated process data recording to make sure that you are constantly honing your process for maximum efficiency.
Tip #2: Create Process Maps
Creating a large map of the process with average times for each step can help you get the big picture, and also pinpoint where to start in trouble shooting, or improving your production process. Check your machines to see which are redundant, have worn-out parts, or are unnecessary. Then, while you are mapping the production process, ask yourself a series of questions. Where is the entire process at its slowest? Why is this step slowest? Can this be improved? How much time and money would it take to improve the machine? How long will the improvement last? For many of these questions, you may have to consult outside sources to get acceptable answers. Other times, there may not be answers you can get. this is especially true of non-machine issues that will require more inspection.
During this key step to improving efficiency, remember to not only look at machine steps but human steps as well. Measure individual times and average times for processes and movement efficiency. Look at the slowest parts of the day and the slowest steps. Make sure that you are asking why those are the slowest parts and steps. Are your employees hungry and working slower? Are they coming back from lunch? Are they taking unnecessary steps or even cutting steps? Some issues can be solved through the Google method, where resources are used to help workers increase efficiency.
Tip #3: Evaluate Worker Competence
Not all workers are the same, and it really does matter who you hire to work the assembly line. Workers should have all the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job competently and safely. In-house training should be provided to maintain levels of knowledge, and maintain a safe work environment.
Workers that do not work as hard as is expected, cost valuable time and money by slowing down key steps in the production process, or cutting corners to the detriment of product quality. More seriously, certain workers can create or contribute to a negative work atmosphere. Negative work atmospheres often results in the slowdown of entire departments or sections of departments. This can also lead to workers who go out of their way to cost the company money, or do not care about quality or safety in production processes, potentially costing you new equipment, or openning you up to lawsuits. To combat this, make sure that workers are receiving fare wages and benefits. At times, outside consulting can also help.
Tip #4: Analyze Production History and Data
If you don’t have production logs, you should certainly start tracking them. If you do, we suggest that you use a type of enterprise resource planning software to help find where inefficiencies exist and what trends occur throughout the day that can tell you where potential improvements can exist.
Tip #5: Tailor Even Minor Steps
Adjusting almost every detail of a step for maximum efficiency can save seconds, which will turn into minutes, hours, or days of production in the long run. Once you have the details of where your steps are slowest or inefficient, it’s important to go back and implement ways of making it more efficient. This can be as simple as machine to machine angles, distance between points, lunch times, break times, cooling rates, worker health, bathroom distance, and much more. It’s important to note that this is a step that is best taken in stages and it is easy to get carried away with minute changes.
Tip # 6: Increase Equipment or Staff Where Efficiency Cannot Be Helped.
At certain times, there is little you can do about a production process’ efficiency. This is especially true with state-of-the-art batch ovens or annealing ovens. The processes here are governed by material chemistry. Both heating and cooling rates can be set only so fast as to not damage product but to maintain product integrity and strength. In cases such as this, adding multiple production units multiplies the speed at which the production stage is finished per individual unit. At HIX Industrial Ovens, we are always open to negotiating for larger bulk unit deals.
We hope that these tips are effective at helping your business revamp your production process for maximum efficiency and maximum profit. If you are looking to install or replace an industrial oven in light or medium industry, consider the HIX advantage. At HIX Industrial Ovens, we create the finest custom and standard industrial conveyor or batch ovens for annealing, curing, drying, printing, and baking. Contact your area field representative for questions regarding our ovens or business or to get a free quote on an order!