Rework is an inherent part of manufacturing for businesses across many different industries. Despite significant investment in quality management systems designed to prevent quality issues from happening, businesses are unlikely to prevent 100% of quality issues and, as a result, will need to find effective and efficient ways to manage their scrap and rework procedures.

This is especially true as the global trend toward personalization and individualized products increase the complexity of manufacturing processes.

In this post, we’ll discuss how manufacturers are addressing their rework challenges by implementing tools and systems to reduce quality issues and streamline the reprocessing of materials into finished goods.

What is rework in manufacturing?

Manufacturing rework is when manufacturers repair and reprocess materials, parts, or poor quality products into products that meet the necessary quality standards and criteria.

In some manufacturing environments, items for rework can be confused with scrap or waste. Scrap refers to materials left over from the production process. These materials don’t conform to design specifications but can be repurposed to create value.

Similarly, waste is material originating from the production process. However, these materials can’t be merely reintroduced in the production process and are typically discarded or recycled.

With rework, manufacturers take products or parts that don’t fit the design specifications expected by customers and reprocess them to fit the design. This process costs money and labor, impacting profit margins for the business.

What causes rework in manufacturing?

Even with the various advances in production techniques and operations management approaches, businesses still engage in rework to maximize production materials and eliminate the chance of low-quality products making it out to the customer.

Here are the different causes of rework in a manufacturing setting:

  • First, rework can originate from poor-quality materials used in the production process.

  • Sometimes defective products occur on the production line because of a machine malfunction.

  • Relatedly, defective parts or products can result from human operator error.

  • Loosely implemented quality assurance and control programs often contribute to high rework.

  • Lack of proper communication of changes in product design or specifications can lead to mistakes by operators.

  • Even with proper communication, new and updated product designs might be implemented incorrectly, leading to defective products that require rework.

How to reduce rework in manufacturing

Because manufacturing rework affects customer satisfaction and employee productivity, manufacturers must implement effective means to reduce it.

These approaches include:

Be proactive: Manufacturers can avoid rework by getting ahead of the problem. Instead of fixing the problem, manufacturing businesses can be proactive in their approach, ensuring defects don’t occur in the first place.

For example, improving employee training reduces the potential human error that leads to defects. Further still, manufacturers can fit their premises with newer equipment and machinery that runs more efficiently according to the desired specifications and tolerances.

Implement better documentation strategies: A manufacturing operation uses and produces several types of documents. For instance, production processes require a bill of materials (BOM) specifying the requirements for manufacturing a particular product. Another example of a critical document type is standard operating procedures (SOP) and work instructions.

If the business uses manual, paper-based documentation strategies, it can fall behind in managing these documents. For example, SOPs might not be updated in time, or BOMs can get misplaced or inadvertently destroyed.

However, by applying more advanced digital solutions, manufacturers can reduce rework because the production process is based on easy-to-follow, up-to-date documents.

Emphasize continuous improvement in quality management: Effective quality management practices ensure that a manufacturing operation keeps its rework, scrap, and waste at acceptable low levels.

However, quality management isn’t a one-off implementation that eliminates defective parts, components, and products. Instead, it requires operators, supervisors and managers to implement the different quality management and control measures throughout the product lifecycle. This limits undesirable quality events across the production process, reducing the need for rework.

Quick and comprehensive communication: As earlier discussed, some manufacturers undertake rework because they didn’t clearly communicate design updates or product specifications. As such, operators might encounter mixups on the production line, resulting in defective parts, components and products.

Businesses can solve this by improving their communication skills and techniques. This ensures everyone is on the same page, operating with the most up-to-date information.

Adhere to compliance guidelines and regulations: Standards and regulatory bodies institute parameters for manufacturers to follow when making and delivering products. In some sectors, regulators require particular sourcing methods for raw materials.

These guidelines allow manufacturers to make products safe for customer consumption and use. When manufacturers follow these guidelines correctly, they can significantly reduce quality issues. As a result, such products don’t require rework.

Make use of technological tools and solutions: The proliferation of the industrial internet of things allows manufacturers more control, visibility, and insight into their operations.

For instance, employing quality management systems allows manufacturers to better identify and understand the source of quality issues within their operations. Additionally, digital work instruction solutions enable businesses to error-proof their operator workflows, reducing defects resulting from human error.

Other digital solutions like manufacturing execution systems provide extensive control and insight into production operations. This allows manufacturers to avoid potential problems by performing predictive maintenance, ensuring that machines continue operating as intended.

Using Tulip to manage quality and rework processes

At the end of the day, when it comes to improving production efficiency and reducing rework, manufacturers require complete, real-time visibility into the activities taking place within their facilities.

Across industries, businesses are using Tulip to automate data collection from their operators, machines, and devices to understand where inefficiencies may be taking place, allowing managers and supervisors to quickly respond and issue corrective action.

Additionally, Tulip enables manufacturers to create digital work instructions to better equip their workers with intuitive, detailed workflows that can reduce quality issues from happening in the first place.

In scenarios where rework does need to take place, Tulip can help notify relevant parties and schedule rework processes so that materials and defective products don’t sit for extended periods of time collecting dust.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can help your business reduce rework and operate more efficiently, reach out to a member of our team today!