Eliminating Lost & Idle Time in Production Cells
For manufacturers looking to increase their production throughput and lower cycle times, few actions are as impactful as determining the company’s manufacturing productivity rate in a given work cell. Often a source of great confusion, determining productivity rate and efficiency is nowhere near as difficult as it might seem.
In an ever increasing competitive world economy, manufacturers must have a solid grasp on their production capacity, lower their cycle times, and must find ways to eliminate idle and lost time in all its forms. It amounts to capturing idle time, identifying actual work time and setting the stage to eliminate the root causes of downtime and delays. So, what are the steps to calculating a company’s manufacturing efficiency?
1. Determine Actual Hours Worked in a Given Work Cell
Like a surgeon operating on a patient, workers must have clear work instructions, a clean bill of materials and their tools and equipment within reach. Each of these items listed plays a huge role in work stoppages. Essential to determining the productivity rate is to first determine the actual hours worked during a production run. These are the essential criteria that need to be determined.
- Total hours of paid work time.
- Total time taken for lunch, and breaks.
- Lost or idle time in production, regardless of cause.
For example, let’s assume a company runs two 10 hour work shifts a day. Of each 10 hour work shift, how much time is allocated to lunch and breaks? For this example, we’ll assume 1 hour for lunch and two 20 minute breaks. In this case, the employees could only realistically work 8 hours and 20 minutes total, and that’s if they were 100% efficient. No employee is capable of that! Therefore, the question remains, of this remaining 8 hours and 20 minutes, how much of this time is actual work time and how much is lost time due to delays?
2. Capture Lost Time and Identify Root Causes
There are many companies who use an MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) to track work orders and determine their appropriate cycle times in a given production cell. However, while these MRP programs show what the cycle times are, they in no way show how to improve those times, or what the delays are caused by. That’s why even companies that have MRP systems still prefer to see work done with their own eyes, in order to identify causes of downtime. In this case, it amounts to actually standing at a work station and tracking lost and idle time as it occurs. It’s certainly not the greatest use of anyone’s time, but it’s an investment in improving the company’s production capacity.