10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Cost Saving 6: Materials

10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Cost Saving 6: Materials

(Almost) eliminate waste

A few years back we outsourced a part of one of our brands to a sprawling production facility. At this site the General Manager managed efficiency by the 240lt and 500lt bin. He would roam the factory, inspect the bins every day or two and challenge different staff members about what was happening. Unfortunately staff were aware of this routine, so they made sure to empty the bins into the shredder as quickly as possible. Thousands of dollars were draining from the business every week, and there was no accountability.

Significant (there’s that word again) savings can be realised by making every fail event visible, trackable and accountable. In good factories they prevent reprints from being issued without a trackable quality fail event initiating the ability to reprint the file. In the very best of the factories we see fail-budgets per staff member implemented, requiring escalation if budgeted limits get exceeded.

The trick is to be able to do this without reducing productivity (and in fact speed it). We observe two ways to drive down on this cost – either i. grant the ability to quality fail work widely and then track via budget limits or ii. Centralise the fail function and have someone given the task of fail processing to inspect and fail, but do it with the Station ID of where the work was failed.

Regardless of the method being used, the objective is to create accountability and attach ownership of the failed work. In doing this it’s important that you have the ability to see the whole workflow, as the fail reason could have originated in an upstream workflow.

We’ve seen this fail accountability technique used to great effect. In another site, each peak season as they moved to peak operations and a three-shift, seven-day operation, waste levels would spike, reaching a peak of 20% of total production. With a large number of seasonal workers, skill and knowledge fell when management was under peak of pressure. It became easier amidst tight seasonal deadlines to simply reprint work.

By introducing fail accountability the culture of the plant was rapidly transformed and within 8 weeks the issue had been solved. The outcome was transformational. In addition to dollars saved it unlocked capacity for innovation.

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© ZenSmart.ai

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.

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