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With more manufacturing businesses springing up every day and carving out slices of the market base, brands need to be diligent about managing their production processes. Failure to do so can result in customers switching to competitors who are better equipped to fulfill orders to spec, on time, and more cost-effectively.
To keep up, manufacturers need to have an accurate view of what’s happening on their shop floor at all times. As such, savvy manufacturers have implemented shop floor control mechanisms to help them make informed decisions regarding the work happening across their operations.
When manufacturing plants install and apply shop floor control systems correctly, they’re bound to see an improvement in production efficiency, employee morale, and order fulfillment. And by extension, this will result in better customer satisfaction.
Therefore, it’s prudent for companies across manufacturing industries to adopt modern shop floor control systems to ensure that they can effectively manage their operations for improved business success.
Read on to learn more about shop floor control and how it can help manufacturers continuously improve their operations and maintain a competitive advantage in the market.
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An overview of shop floor control
Put simply, shop floor control is a set of procedures employed by manufacturers to track, schedule, and get an accurate picture of events happening across their production facilities.
In most manufacturing settings, managers have historically had to manually keep tabs on factory floor activities. These manual methods usually involve keeping track of production batches through paper-based systems applied at various intervals throughout the day.
Not only does this manual work take up considerable time, but it also doesn’t provide decision-makers with the data-backed insights they need to manage the production process when required. This leaves supervisors in a position where they respond to problems reactively, not proactively.
Many manufacturers have switched to the more technologically advanced way of managing the production line – digital shop floor control systems. These modern control systems take advantage of the advancement of Industry 4.0 to provide real-time visibility of the production line and other relevant activities on the factory floor.
With the interconnectivity on the floor afforded by recent manufacturing advancements, control systems track labor and machines to provide executives, managers, and supervisors with real-time snapshots of their production systems and processes.
And with such reliable information, decision-makers can optimize the production process as they see fit, resulting in a number of benefits to the business.
Benefits of digitizing shop floor control
As stated earlier, advanced shop floor control systems bring manufacturing businesses closer to the front of the pack. After all, they provide several advantages over their traditional, paper-based counterparts. Some of these benefits include:
Access to real-time production line information
With manual shop floor control, managers often have to wait for the end of a production run to receive information about work orders and productivity. As a result, the data collected is usually no longer useful for supervisors to make real-time decisions and proactively track and influence production.
But with the introduction of digital systems, supervisors and managers have access to real-time information coming off the factory floor. This means that relevant personnel knows precisely what’s happening on the line at the specific time that it happens, allowing them to respond more quickly to problems that may arise.
Reduced production costs
Traditional systems require personnel to fill out various paperwork to capture shop floor information. But since this is a time-consuming undertaking, businesses often hire full-time employees to execute these tasks.
As a result, managing documentation can quickly become an extremely resource-intensive process that ultimately increases production costs.
By digitizing documentation with a digital shop floor control system, manufacturers enable their employees to focus on core tasks that advance the production process. Additionally, digital shop floor systems automatically capture, process, and store data, eliminating the need for costly document management.
Efficient and timely support from management
The manufacturing floor is usually physically distant from offices occupied by management personnel. As such, communicating with the various departments across a production facility can be lengthy and convoluted when support is required.
Advanced shop floor control systems prevent this inefficiency by connecting departments across the factory and streamlining communication. Managers have instant access to prevailing production status information, allowing them to provide timely support to individuals on the factory floor.
This then ties back to the previous point regarding reduced production costs. After all, timely intervention and guidance can prevent an order from running behind schedule if the prevailing bottlenecks aren’t addressed.
Continuous improvement of manufacturing processes
At the end of the day, if manufacturers are not staying ahead of their competition by adopting a culture of continuous improvement, they’re likely falling behind. One of the best ways to remain competitive is by optimizing processes to create as efficient a manufacturing model as possible.
Digital shop floor control systems provide consistent, real-time insight of manufacturing processes, allowing managers to identify key opportunities for improvement. Consequently, managers can apply these solutions to other applicable areas, making for a better manufacturing process across the board.
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