Job Shops and contract manufacturers are consumed by getting jobs done and booking new jobs, a balancing act that requires the utmost lead time efficiency to stay competitive. Reducing lead time sounds intimidating, but the reality is that making a number of small adjustments can produce big benefits.
Finding those small, often hidden, time thieves means taking a long, hard look at your overall manufacturing process from quote through payment. And understanding the entirety of your job flow will reveal opportunities for making relevant reductions to lead time, including:
1. Eliminating Bottlenecks
Process steps that slow progress are sometimes unnecessary and almost always add no value for your customers. Streamlining component and product handling by using subassemblies, merging certain inspection and documentation steps, and re-prioritizing paperwork management are often practical ways to keep your turnaround from getting bogged down.
2. Preventing Redundancies
Involving too many departments or workers in the job flow invites missed handoffs, needless repetition, costly rework and a host of other mistakes. Narrowing the scope to include only essential personnel and job phases alleviates concerns about superfluous activity that otherwise drains resources.
3. Managing Inventory
Finding the sweet spot between on-hand inventory and customer need is the ultimate in lead time reduction. However, it’s not uncommon to overestimate demand and have money tied up in parts on the shelf, or to underestimate and put yourself in a bind waiting for parts. Automated stock replenishment through a vendor managed inventory (VMI) program based on actual usage instead of guesswork aligns inventory and demand.
4. Consolidating Suppliers
Using a variety of vendors seems like a viable solution to avoid wasting time and money waiting for parts, but the variance in lead times between suppliers can actually create surplus inventory and stock-outs. Choosing to work with a small number of vendors (or one primary vendor) eliminates the unpredictability and chaos of random shipments, usually cuts shipping costs, and makes build scheduling more efficient and accurate.
Supplementing these practices with industry-leading manufacturing ERP software solutions will help you maximize lead time reductions in the near- and long-term. Contact Wipfli today to explore how technology will help set up your Job Shop or contact manufacturing operation for success.