Visualizing & Preventing Bottlenecks in Your Manufacturing Process

Emily Suzuki June 27, 2022 3 min read

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Manufacturing bottlenecks happen sometimes, but you can take steps to prevent them with the right manufacturing execution system. Here are 5 steps to help you get ahead of some common bottlenecks.

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Picture this: you’re a manufacturer, and you’ve set up your process to be as seamless as possible. You have the exact number of machines you need, the perfect amount of material, and highly skilled employees to get the job done. You think everything is going according to plan until something…isn’t. Maybe your once smooth process has suddenly become inefficient or your highest-performing employee takes a vacation. Sound familiar?

The truth is, bottlenecks happen, human errors (and vacations!) happen, and miscalculations happen — it’s the business of manufacturing. You can’t always predict the unexpected, but there are a few steps you can take to prevent as many mistakes and errors as possible.

What are manufacturing bottlenecks?

A manufacturing bottleneck is anything that negatively affects production efficiency. Unexpectedly running out of material, hiring too many employees, or a machine breaking during production are all examples of manufacturing bottlenecks.  

Having the ability to easily find the source of a potential bottleneck and prevent or eliminate it before it has too much of an impact on your bottom line has a multitude of benefits depending on the situation. For example, if you’re able to predict how much material you need in advance, you can reduce wasteful spending on labor and utilities ahead of time.

Set your team up for success – Visualize and prevent bottlenecks

What’s the best way to get ahead of a problem? Prepare. A manufacturing execution system enables you to track and analyze all aspects of your operations — orders, workers, materials, machines, maintenance, waste, time, and costs — in real, time.

Here are a few steps you can take to visualize manufacturing bottlenecks early on in your process and ultimately prevent them:

Track it all from the get-go

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It’s important to track everything you can from the very beginning. For example, if you manage warehouse space and track raw materials at the start of your process, you can minimize potential risks along the way (i.e. overstocking or under-purchasing). 

Implement realistic production and workload goals

Organizing and tracking your data from the beginning also helps you set realistic production targets and actually follow through on meeting your goals. Tracking how much material you have to go around and what each member of your team is working on means that if your star employee gets sick or takes a vacation, you’re covered.

Know your capacity

The best way to avoid overextending your employees and systems is to know your capacity. If you can predict your capacity in advance, you can avoid digital and physical burnout. This also makes balancing and dividing workload much easier. 

Eliminate waste

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There’s nothing worse than finishing a job with tons of leftover material lying around the shop. Just kidding! Know what’s even worse? When you realize that you’ve run out of material during a job. Yikes. If you’re able to predict how much material you need in advance, you can reduce wasteful spending on labor and utilities ahead of time. You can also avoid the nightmare of miscalculating how much material you need for each project.

Stay connected on-the-go

Checking in with your team and production process while out of the office used to be impossible. Now, thanks to modern manufacturing execution systems, it’s the new reality. Manufacturers want to produce the most items impossible in a short amount of time to meet customer demand. Naturally, though, this can lead to overextended machines that break down. Setting up notifications to alert you when a machine breaks or requires maintenance is a great way to stay in the know and act fast. Prodsmart offers a mobile app equipped with a team chat feature that keeps you connected in real-time even when you’re off-site. 

Get ahead of manufacturing bottlenecks

The moral of the story? Preparation is key if you want your manufacturing business to consistently run as smoothly as possible with as few bottlenecks as possible. Looking for a solution? Good news — you can do everything in this article and more with the right manufacturing execution system:

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