Everyone in manufacturing and engineering has a process by which they eventually create their end product. At Denny Bros Engineering, we use many of the principles noted below to improve our own process efficiency, with the aim of offering better service to all customers and clients. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
First, we’re quickly going to highlight exactly what process efficiency is, and how it’s usually measured. Then, we’ll introduce you to some of the most common ways to improve your process efficiency in relation to machinery and engineering.
What is process efficiency?
Process efficiency is a way of measuring how well your business processes are performing. In simple terms, that means it’s a way of looking at how much effort your business is putting into creating your products.
For example, if you own a pencil factory, and you employ 500 people who can create a total of 50 pencils every day, chances are you’re not happy with your process efficiency.
There’s a short calculation you can do to measure your process efficiency, which is:
Value-added time/Total lead time
There are some other metrics you can use, but that’s not the focus of our article today.
Most of us can improve our process efficiency, at least a little. It can be a reliable way to improve business performance overall.
Use a Poka-Yoke approach
Poka-Yoke is a Japanese approach to mistake proofing. As engineers, we find we often add new mechanisms to a machine to detect new problems. Poka-yoke instead looks at eliminating problems at the source.
It’s an approach that makes future errors either impossible, or immediately recognisable to the user. Adopting this approach makes fixing machines a faster process, and gives you more time dedicated to creating products.
Matching material stocks
One of the most frustrating time-sinks in using machines can be due to bad resource planning. Machine stoppages caused by a lack of material at the required time, or the wrong material being loaded, can derail an entire production process.
Designing a water-tight material matching system, that makes sure all the materials you need are in place at all times, can prevent these productivity losses. This can then improve your process efficiency overall as a result.
Automating quality controls
Sometimes in manufacturing, judgements can change from person to person. This then means each product’s quality is always up for debate. That is, if you’re still measuring quality using the human eye.
There are methods using sensors, cameras and automation equipment that can judge quality independently, without supervision. This can remove the debate from your quality controls and can then in turn streamline the whole quality control process.
The above represent some common ways the industry, and the team here at Denny Bros Engineering, have modified our own processes to improve our efficiency. But there are always other methods you can use unique to your business model.