Four Core Methods for Improving Value Stream Efficiency

For manufacturers, value streams are effectively revenue streams. The more efficiently they run, the more effective they are at  production and generating revenue. Experienced manufacturers know there’s always room for improvement when it comes to value stream efficiency. The question is, how do you get more out of yours?

Adopt a lean manufacturing approach

The first step in any improvement strategy for value stream efficiency should involve adopting a lean manufacturing approach. Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste and mapping value streams, both of which streamline processes and save on costs. Mapping helps manufacturers visualize the many moving parts of their value stream. Analyzing, managing, and designing the flow of materials is much easier with a good value stream map.

The other part of this approach, waste elimination, helps prevent unnecessary spending. There are seven distinct types of waste: transport, motion, waiting, inventory, overproduction, defects, and over-processing. By identifying and eliminating each category of  waste, a lean manufacturing approach helps cut costs.

Train, upskill, educate, and empower workers

Reducing waste and increasing the quality of products is sometimes as simple as providing workers with the right knowledge and relevant skills. One of the best ways to improve the value stream is to ensure all employees know how to properly operate any equipment they’re using. Proper machine usage helps prevent downtime and materials waste.

Manufacturers can empower, educate, train, and upskill workers with regular training opportunities. During these sessions, emphasize equipment maintenance tips and how to spot small problems before they turn into large ones with the potential to derail value stream efficiency.

Measure and understand value stream data

Improvement begins with understanding. To improve a value stream, manufacturers must first fully understand it. The best way to gain value stream insight is by accurately measuring data. There are many factors to consider when measuring value stream data, including the number of units produced per hour and the percentage of defects present. Collecting and considering a wide range of data allows manufacturers to spot problem areas and implement better solutions. This also factors into value stream mapping.

Take a proactive approach to maintenance

Don’t delay or neglect maintenance. Unexpected breakdowns and unplanned downtime have a severe negative impact on efficiency. A proactive approach to maintenance helps prevent breakdowns, thus preserving the quality of the value stream. New technology provides plenty of ways to implement a proactive maintenance strategy. An asset maintenance solution, such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), allows manufacturers to easily plan for, predict, and track maintenance.

Efficiency shouldn’t come at the expense of quality

While these four strategies will certainly yield results for improved efficiency, manufacturers also need to prioritize quality. Decisions affecting the value stream should never compromise the quality of finished goods for increased throughput. It’s an imbalance destined to backfire. Instead, view efficiency as a quality metric and make adjustments for enhancing both.

Well-functioning equipment is at the heart of every efficient value stream. To keep yours running reliably, you can always count on the professionals at Global Electronic Services. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!
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