If you’re just joining us, check out the previous posts in this series on product development:
//Part 5: Pre-Production //
Ok, you’re caught up.
So in pre-production, we laid out the framework for our production pipeline. We trained the staff and defined each step of the process. Now it’s time to put that into practice.
During pre-production, you can plan and fantasize and predict all you want, but you will never be able to maximize your efficiency until full production begins. Efficiency is very important, no matter what your volume, because wasted time is always wasted money.
If one step of the process takes 2x as long as anticipated, maybe you can pull staff from other less demanding areas or add automation.
Lean Six-Sigma is a well known methodology when it comes to production efficiency. Adjusting workflow and production floor layout can do big things to the big picture product line. Maybe it takes a worker 100 steps to reach a trash bin. Moving that bin closer could save several minutes over the course of the day.
Maybe the team that packs up products is having to transport the packages across the warehouse to be palletized. Suddenly your products are not only spending a good amount of time in transit, but the risk of damage is greatly increased.
Observe the entire flow of production to ensure that every effort has been made to cut out risk and time.
Once production is in full swing, you will get a more crystallized view of your profits. In many cases, the money isn’t coming in as you had hoped and something has to be done to save the product. Maybe your finance department comes to you and says that productivity has to double for you to make enough profit – well that’s probably due to poor planning in the previous stages, but it happens every day in companies big and small.
Major adjustments must be made to accomplish a steady production that meets volumes and profit requirements. Automation, new staff, workflow organization, training, etc. can all contribute to maximizing profits.
What can go wrong?
Production requires a lot more planning than just getting product out the door. Machinery maintenance, downtime, supply chain management, vendor/supplier issues, storage of materials, training, demand surges and other logistics have to be carefully calculated and accounted for.
Each one of those areas could bring trouble if they aren’t carefully addressed throughout production.
Constant tweaking required
Efficiency, profits, and planning will require constant tweaking throughout the entire lifecycle of the product. We run into lots of companies who create a system and then assume it will run – as planned – indefinitely. Diligence and dedication are the only things that will ensure that your production is being well executed.
Where do we fit?
Ehren-Haus is a low-volume (<5,000 pieces), high mix manufacturer for highly custom plastic products and cable assemblies. We work with clients at every stage of the product development process, but at the end of the day, we are in the manufacturing business. Specialty products with quick turnarounds are our sweet spot.
We do have clients with products that we have designed that are produced at high volumes and we manage the production with other, larger American manufacturers around the country. Because we are small, we are able to react swiftly with flexibility to meet our clients’ needs.
If you’re considering a new product or maybe your production line needs some tweaking, let’s talk. We have only one purpose and that is to empower companies to be the most successful they can be. Many times, that means managing programs that otherwise keep them from doing what they do best.
Tune in next week when we discuss value engineering to keep costs low during production.
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