Taking a manufacturing process to success is a lot more complex than people think. This is because not many people think about it from an analytical point of view. Factories can result in big bucks for the business owners, but they need to be more data-oriented than some people realize.
When people talk about organizing and controlling a factory, they usually think about the shop floor. This is a fair enough image to have, of course. Talk of factories bring images of people actually producing to the mind. We see people operating machinery, cutting and preparing materials, dealing with problems like spillages. So when we talk about improving factories, we usually think about these very physical processes.
But, of course, a factory is much more than its shop floor. If you want to improve a factory, you have to consider the workplace as a whole. You have to think about what goes on at what people in the business might call “the top floor”. This is where the talk seems to become a bit more abstract. We talk less about the raw materials and machinery and more about things that we don’t often think about when we talk of factories. We begin to think about information, metrics, planning, data. Things like that. All of this could be wrapped up in the neat little term logistics. We may expect to be hearing about this from more computer-oriented businesses.
But it would be foolish to forget about any of these things here. In fact, this is where a lot of businesses owners in manufacturing make a huge mistake. They assume that improving things always comes right down to the hard labor. In fact, it’s the more abstract things that determine where all the hard labor is being invested. Ultimately, it’s all that information that will dictate how much value you get for the dollars you invest in your factory. It’s why more businesses are being careful about the manufacturing logistics software they work with.
The functions of your factory
When you think about all of the functions of your factory, this line of thinking starts to make a lot more sense. You begin to see just how much all of this abstract work affects the physical labor that people associate with factories.
What actually gets you started on a given production project? For the most part, factories will either work solely for a given company, or they’ll have several clients. In either of these cases, the project tends to begin with an order. This works as your project assignment. How you deal with this order on a top-floor level is what determines how production gets started. Think, for example, about how that order is converted into a production plan.
That production plan will set out exactly what is needed for a particular project. The first thing many will think of in this regard is the raw materials that are required. Of course, as soon as we start talking about raw materials, people assume they know what happens next. They assume that it’s a simple case of ordering the necessary materials and handing them to the workers on the shop floor. From there, the magic of production happens, completely separate from the top-floor level. Well, a description of the process can certainly be reduced to that. But that would, by definition, be reductive.
Considering raw materials from a data perspective
Raw materials aren’t just a concern for the shop floor. The fact is that the concerns of raw materials branch out into so many areas before they ever arrive in the hands of a laborer. If you ever wanted to know why information tracking is so important, there’s no better place to look than at the raw materials.
First, consider the ordering process. You see it as someone deciding on a required weight and ordering that weight. But think about it. How is that weight worked out? How much weight can the factory even hold at a given time? Should potential spillages or mistakes be factored in when working out that weight? How would you work out the potential effects of such errors, if they occurred? The smart way to do it would be by assessing previous projects. But do you have the quantitative data from previous projects?
When you consider the complexity of quantity from a factory-wide perspective? The whole thing becomes a lot more complex than people think. And if a business owner is to go at it without true depth of analytical research, then they’re putting their business at risk. The key to good business is to get what your money’s worth at every possible stage. Without logistics, you simply won’t have a true understand of what every possible stage is.