Technological innovation is driving a fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) within the manufacturing space. Forward-thinking manufacturers are transforming the production process via new and improved technology and tools like AI and computer learning and further reliance on automation. In a time when manufacturers are struggling to get raw materials, consumers are experiencing longer-than-average lead times when purchasing products. Manufacturing organizations are working hard to counter supply chain disruptions and improve lead time in 2023.
What is Lead Time?
In general, lead time refers to the time between the initiation and completion of a process or project. Specific to manufacturing, lead time refers to the time between an order being placed to a product reaching the consumer. Many factors contribute to lead time, including the previously mentioned availability of raw materials as well as order size and complexity, and required labor and equipment.
Why is reducing lead time important for manufacturers? It’s fairly simple. Modern consumers (be that other businesses or individuals) want quick turnaround times between placing an order and receiving the product. Expectations are high for quick production and delivery of items, and longer lead times can be a deciding factor when consumers make decisions on where to purchase a product. Any excess time between placing an order and receiving it negatively impacts customer satisfaction and the probability of them continuing to purchase from a manufacturer long-term.
Increasing Inventory Management Efficiency
One way manufacturers are combatting the current less-than-ideal supply chain environment is by improving efficiency within their internal processes to speed up production once materials are secured. There are many processes involved in manufacturing, including several that don’t even occur on the production floor. For example, inventory management is a huge opportunity for manufacturers to improve in 2023.
Inventory balance is crucial for keeping lead time low, and achieving (and maintaining) this requires accurate data and analysis. Software solutions, like OptiPoint, can integrate with an organization’s energy resource planning (ERP) software to analyze sales and consumption data to craft and implement inventory and supply policies for lean material management and inventory balance.
Improving Long-Term Planning
It’s difficult to plan when there is uncertainty regarding multiple factors, including supply chains, equipment functionality, and employee availability. Being able to accurately forecast the future in a dynamic way that accounts for uncertainty and variability is incredibly valuable for manufacturers looking to improve lead time. Many organizations are investing in robust long-term planning software solutions to better coordinate product demand and internal capacity planning.
Plan360 is a unique software in its ability to create several horizon scenario configurations, accounting for multiple variables. With this, it offers a “Best Fit” model among its 20 predicted models, so manufacturers can plan effectively and minimize manufacturing surprises – despite uncertainty among variables. Not only does this improve lead time, but it also reduces new product introduction time – making innovation available to consumers much more quickly than it would be without streamlined demand planning.
Reducing Waste – Scrap & Rework
Supply chain inefficiencies or issues are frustrating enough. When precious raw materials don’t result in a quality finished product after the production process, lead time is negatively impacted as it takes longer to produce an ordered amount of quality products. Therefore, efforts to reduce scrap and rework can help combat the factors working against manufacturers this year and keep the lead time down.
For manufacturing organizations focused on reducing these instances of waste, often a manufacturing execution system (MES) implementation or upgrade is required. Achieving real-time visibility of all processes on the shop floor means manufacturers can identify quality issues early, limiting the number of runs and/or products the issue affects. An MES allows for that visibility as well as streamlining communication among operators and decision-makers. When fix implementation occurs quickly, less scrap and rework occurs as a result – ultimately, keeping lead time in check.
Manufacturing Software Solutions from IMCO Software
There are numerous options on the market today when it comes to software solutions for manufacturers. What’s important for organizations to understand is that operating efficiently and profitably (including keeping lead times in check) generally requires several solutions to ensure each function of the company and each part of the production process runs smoothly.
Finding the right combination of software solutions, in an ever-evolving space, can seem nearly impossible. Rapidly changing technologies means staying current with best practices a top priority for most manufacturers. Often, that means partnering externally with industry experts to stay ahead of the competition. For this reason, the team at IMCO Software remains dedicated to staying ahead of the curve in terms of technology expertise and in-the-field training.
We’ve curated an entire suite of both proprietary software and partner integrations to be able to offer our partners a full range of solutions for achieving efficiency and profitability. Every manufacturing operation is unique in terms of both its processes and its needs when it comes to technology. The IMCO team understands needs differ between industries and even between organizations. So, we continue to provide comprehensive shop floor solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of our partners, increasing productivity and revenue along the way, If your organization is struggling to combat external factors lengthening manufacturing lead time in 2023, our team would love to help. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation where you can learn more about:
- Driving tangible results via software solution implementation
- How the IMCO team can help you achieve operational excellence
- Areas of opportunity for growth or improvement within your manufacturing operations
We look forward to hearing from you and helping your operations thrive in 2023!