Introduction At the core of every manufacturing organization is a corporate strategy that guides how it intends to sustainably make money. Global leaders in manufacturing continue to analyze to improve their product lifecycle to achieve the most effective results. A growing strategy commonly used revolves around the cyclic process of .....
- Innovation – developing new products;
- Implementation – ramping up the manufacturing of new products;
- Optimization – wringing every nickel out of the manufacturing process through productivity enhancements; and,
- Divesting the manufacturing of the product entirely when the product is no longer profitable in the company’s structure.
An often overlooked capital asset that can add significant value to all areas of the product lifecycle and impact both revenues and/or profits is the design-to-manufacturing documentation; namely, work instructions. The ability to easily create, manage, deploy, and validate manufacturing work instructions may be a problem area in your operations that isn’t obvious. Well-run companies have seen that well-managed work instructions can allow them to offer more options to their customers, enhance productivity metrics, increase on-time delivery rates, and add significant value to their bottom line. Are you missing out on this significant aspect of your supply chain?
Innovation decisions revolve around the long-term future product or service offerings that an organization must develop for positive market differentiation . The real reward for success in this area of the product life cycle is the premium profit margins that can be recognized by being out in front of the competition. Quite often, innovation centers around a “total solution” approach to a product that serves to further drive the demand for an offering in its given market or open up completely new market opportunities. By having a system in place that makes the management of highly configured, detailed work instructions a core component of manufacturing, organizations experience .....
- Greater freedom in innovation and customer offerings due to the ability to easily manage configurations and options on the manufacturing floor;
- Greater flexibility in manufacturing options by enabling cell-based manufacturing as opposed to straight line assembly; and,
- The benefits of freeing up critical engineering staff from the shop floor support roles enabling them to be involved in critical product design.
Implementation / Rollout
One of the greatest challenges manufacturing companies face is turning the “potential” created during the innovation phase into “profits” in the manufacturing phase . Providing standard work instructions and training employees to make new products is a bottleneck or ‘process gap’, that must be overcome. This is particularly true for companies whose products involve a significant amount of complex manual assembly in highly regulated industries as documentation must be in sync with the start of manufacturing. The value of efficiency however is critical as the ability to hit the window of opportunity offers the chance to capture market leadership and sell at a premium price before competition comes along and eats away at profit margins . By having a well-established and efficient system for authoring, deploying and revising detailed work instructions, companies .....
- Eliminate detailed documentation as the manufacturing bottleneck allowing manufacturing ramp-up to occur more efficiently;
- Spend less time training employees and more time making product when margins are at a premium;
- Promote just-in-time learning by allowing everyone to have current knowledge so that personnel become used to adapting to changes readily ;
- Reduce lost productivity due to rework and scrap that can never be made up during times of constrained capacity;
- Close the loop between manufacturing and production for corrections and changes by offering complete revision control, shop floor deployment and operator feedback; and,
- Simplify the version tracking and audit requirements for new products
Optimization / Efficiency
Analysts continue to report that regardless of the industry every market eventually sees commoditization and shrinking margins as competition enters the fray. At this time, in order to maintain legacy “cash-cows” that account for large revenue streams, companies must turn toward efficiency, lowering of costs, and improving productivity . This is the land of Lean, Kaizen Events, Value Stream Mapping, and Supply Chain Management as companies attempt to wring every nickel out of the manufacturing process. At this stage of the manufacturing life-cycle, organizations that have invested in a systematic program for standardized work reap the benefits of .....
- Higher productivity per employee as a result of less wasted time in compliance activities;
- Higher on time delivery rates as a result of on-demand documentation and reporting;
- Stable product manufacturing that allows redirecting engineering resources towards new product initiatives;
- The ability to move skilled resources to new, higher value products without sacrificing product quality;
- An easy transition between “detailed work” for novices and “standard work” for experts as personnel turnover occurs; and,
- Greater flexibility in changes to the product line for rebalancing and changeover.
Every manufacturing organization has to continually ask the question “What should we not be doing?” The answer may center on outsourcing a component of a whole product or at times of shrinking margins, shedding an entire product line that no longer fits the vision of the enterprise. In a nutshell, valuable people need to be freed from the “Core” and redirected to the “New.” Again, companies that have invested in knowledge capture and management in a functionally specific work instruction system benefit from the fact that .....
- Detailed documentation makes manufacturing knowledge a corporate asset that can be a significant “value-add” at the time of a divestiture;
- Detailed documentation enables transfer of manufacturing knowledge to either outsourced contract manufacturers, a new site or to new ownership; and,
- Collaboratively maintained documentation can be controlled at engineering offices while manufacturing takes place elsewhere.
Work instructions should be a core consideration of every phase of the manufacturing lifecycle; whether it is in giving a company more flexibility with regards to innovation or in allowing them to recognize the full value of that innovation from manufacturing ramp-up through product sunsetting. Well-run companies have seen that well-managed work instructions can allow them to offer more options to their customers, enhance productivity metrics, increase on-time delivery rates, and add significant value to their bottom line. Are you missing out on this significant aspect of your supply chain? Sequence Software has a solution to help your company close the cyclical manufacturing loop with a system that is easy to use, provides complete version control and allows you to use paper or go fully electronic with paperless deployment. Work instruction management has never been easier. Want to know more? Give us a call at 865-927-3000. We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.
For Information: FFD, Inc. | 11020 Solway School Road, Suite 102 | Knoxville, TN 37931 | Phone: 866.863.7541 | On The Web http://www.sequencesoftware.com
 Miller, M.T. (2009). A Seat at the Table: How Top Salespeople Connect and Drive Decisions at the Executive Level. Austin: Greenleaf Book Group Press.
 Yorke, C. and Garrick, J. (2007) Yes Innovation: Everyday Improvement Everyday Leadership. West Conshohocken: Infinity Publishing.
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