How will technology help your production?
Production is the process of assembling the final product or service that you sell to your customers.
Electronic solutions can help you drive down cost and improve efficiency in production.
What are the benefits?
Automating production will help your business to reduce lead times and respond better to shifts in demand. The opportunities include:
- collaborative working – with networked computers everyone involved in production can work together
- precision – use technology to increase accuracy and reduce waste
- flexibility – computer controlled production allows units to be customised more easily
- cheaper product testing – products can be modelled using computer simulation
- speed – automated production lines reduce the time to market
- reduced inventory – e-production allows Just-In-Time manufacturing techniques to be adopted, lowering storage costs
- customer service – automated production can be integrated with order tracking, providing better product information to customers.
Improve your current production process
Use your network to promote collaborative working. Production is a team effort and the more you get people working together, the better the process will be. There are some simple steps, which will bring improvements.
- Use e-mail internally to build links between designers, the production team and sales staff.
- An intranet can provide closer links. Use it to improve internal information flows.
- Use video and digital photography to help colleagues in different locations monitor and improve production methods.
- Use your accounting system to trigger automatic stock reordering or to link the order book into production planning.
- Improve automated links between specific, production-related processes from machining to welding.
You can improve your production process by working more closely with customers and suppliers. Look at ways to develop closer links.
- Use online exchanges and auction sites to source raw materials.
- Locate suppliers that provide online order tracking (and offer the same facility yourself).
- Use suppliers’ extranet services to share production data (and provide extranet services for your own customers).
- Structure your production process around Just In Time (JIT) techniques. You can do this by automating procurement and stock management.
Once you know which aspects of your business can be improved, you’ll be better placed to decide your strategy for implementation.
Decide on the best strategy
The electronic solution that will work for you depends on the kind of business you’re in.
What are your production needs?
- Do you need to build to order?
- Do you produce in bulk?
- Is the production process simple or complex?
- Do you produce bespoke items?
- Are you producing a service?
The best way to apply new technologies is to look at the areas that are under performing. It’s worthwhile auditing your current processes.
- Where are the queues and hold-ups? Is machinery idle? Are you making the best use of resources? Do stocks mount up at certain stages in production? Where are the pressure points when business is brisk?
- What are the information flows? A smooth production process depends on close collaboration throughout the business. This is one area where sharing information and prompt action can prevent major problems.
You might want to consider specific questions, such as:
- Do you have a computerised accounting system?
- Are your design workstations networked?
- What are your training needs?
- Do you need to invest in new interfaces for existing machine tools?
- What about your customers and suppliers? Do you need to standardise on any systems they have?
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