Bottlenecks in Lean Manufacturing

8/9/21 12:00 AM

No matter how well your manufacturing operations are running, you can usually count on one hindrance within it - bottlenecks. No matter how prepared or capable your system is, they usually tend to develop organically or spontaneously or born within some upstream or downstream process or rate changes.

Bottlenecks and lean manufacturing

What is a Bottleneck?

Bottlenecks represent processes or operations that have limited capacity and reduce the capacity of the entire production chain. They can cause delays in production and may be costly for your company if they are not resolved.

The presence of bottlenecks can cause:

  • Delays in production
  • Low customer satisfaction
  • Stress on employees
  • Excess work-in-progress items

As these bottlenecks are presented, project managers are asking themselves how they can possibly be able to manage them within their supply chain. Lean management tools and techniques can help you identify and resolve the problems caused by the bottlenecks. 


What is Lean Manufacturing?

The goal of lean production is to minimize waste and all activities that are not valuable to the production process. Removing waste from the system reduces the time required for production while improving the quality of products and reducing the overall costs. These techniques are especially useful to alleviate the more static elements in production such as materials staging and inventory warehousing.


Managing Bottlenecks in Manufacturing

Since bottlenecks can limit capacity and inventory is being held back, it is important to chart the points of production to readily identify the areas where bottlenecks are present. As these bottlenecks are identified, there are a variety of approaches that a production facility can take in order to manage them:

  1. Increase Resource Capacity - Is your bottleneck caused by an inefficient machine? This can be mediated by performing some maintenance work to improve its production rate or by replacing it altogether. For inexpensive resources, you may want to consider increasing capacity by adding an extra machine or hiring another operator.
  2. Eliminate Non-Value Operations - By eliminating all of the operations that do not add value to the production process, you can cut down the time required to produce an item. This will in turn increase production as machines will be able to perform more cycles as less time is wasted. Non-value activities can include things like unnecessary transport or items through the plant or rework required on defects.
  3. Improve Flow of Operations - Improving the flow of operations can cut down the time required to move work-in-progress items from one resource to another. A redesign of the workflow and shop floor layout may be required to avoid having unnecessary movements through the plant and cut down the production time.
  4. Sell Unused Capacity - If you have a resource that has a lot more capacity than the other resources, it likely has unused capacity. You may want to consider selling or subcontracting the excess capacity to another company. This can increase the space available in your plant to add other machines to increase the capacity of your bottleneck operation.
  5. Re-allocate Capacity - If you have decided to sell machines that were unused due to their excess capacity, you may end up having extra operators that are available and can be allocated to the bottleneck operation to increase its overall capacity. 

Further analysis and management of bottlenecks can be attained through the Theory of Constraints (TOC). This theory commonly used by lean manufacturers describes why bottleneck management is extremely important within a supply chain: increasing capacity leads to increases in profits. Lean manufacturing principles in general can relieve bottlenecks and improve production flow by reducing materials-related and inventory-related bottleneck challenges. 


Advanced Planning and Scheduling Impacts on Lean Manufacturing

Advanced Planning and Scheduling Softwares have become a must for modern-day manufacturing operations as customer demand for increased product assortment, fast delivery, and downward cost pressures become prevalent. These systems help planners save time while providing greater agility in updating ever-changing priorities, production schedules, and inventory plans. APS Systems can be quickly integrated with an ERP/MRP software to fill the gaps where these systems lack planning and scheduling flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency.

With PlanetTogether APS you can:

  • Create optimized schedules that balance production efficiency and delivery performance
  • Maximize throughput on bottleneck resources to increase revenue
  • Synchronize supply with demand to reduce inventories
  • Provide company-wide visibility to resource capacity
  • Enable scenario data-driven decision making

The implementation of an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software will take your manufacturing operations to the next level of production efficiency by taking advantage of the operational data you already possess in your ERP system. APS is a step in the right direction of efficiency and lean manufacturing production enhancement. Try out a free trial or our demo!

Related Lean Manufacturing Video

 APS Resources

Topics: Advanced Planning and Scheduling, manufacturing, Lean Manufacturing, PlanetTogether, Implementation, APS, APS, Capacity Modeling, production capacity, manufacturing technology, APS benefits


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