It’s now well over a century since the advent of the assembly line by Henry Ford. Thanks to the assembly line you see today, car manufacturing times back then were cut down from over 12 hours to about 2.5 hours.
Decades on and manufacturing and processing facilities in Kenya (and Africa as a whole) have embraced numerous practices and strategies (Kaizen, lean manufacturing, six sigma protocol etc) with the aim of increasing production, cutting costs, reducing manpower and ultimately optimizing energy consumption. In Kenya today (2018), the Government has put manufacturing among the key pillars of the Big Four Agenda aimed at spurring economic growth.
With increased competitiveness and stricter customer preferences, production control provides a solid baseline for tracking and acting upon your current operational performance. Let’s dive a little deeper into it.
What is production control?
In the context of industrial processes, production control contains the key elements of monitoring/tracking and controlling available paramaters in order to improve on effectiveness. An example is the fueling personnel at airports; their job is heavily dependent on safety and speed. Get that, safety then speed. It is up to these teams to coordinate and turn around each landing aircraft in the shortest time possible, minimizing charges met by the airline.
In Kenya, because we don’t have that many airports, we’ll focus on food processing companies as candidates of production control. Major hurdles faced by these companies include, temperature control, packaging, logistics, moisture control etc. These factors are all data-driven. You need to have updated records of them somewhere on the plant floor, whether being hand-written in a ledger or updated on a computer software.
Without a clear definition of the team’s goals for production control, you might collect irrelevant data or data that makes little to impact process improvement. As such, it is important to identify your poorest performing production processes. This is where KPIs come in.
What is KPI?
In production planning and control, the acronym KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. Simply put, these are measurable parameters that allow you to evaluate the performance of your production processes. KPI monitoring will let you know your highest and poorest performing production processes, allowing you to make smarter production decisions in the future.
More on KPIs (in manufacturing) can be found here. We’ll go over some of the most common ones which are:
- Production throughput (Good and Bad)
- Production rate per day (or per hour)
- Turn-Around-time (TAT)
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
- Number of incidents/accidents
- Production targets
This refers to keeping count of all the units produced e.g. number of packets, stems of fresh-cut flowers, litres of products piped to clients etc. It is important to note that these records will capture both good and bad products. These figures come from data around all the involved machines/equipment
To make further distinction in the data collected, the production data can be tagged with the shift and operators in charge. This way it is easier to highlight particular performance hiccups in your process.
The scrap or off-product that comes from processes should be accounted for. Just like production throughput, this collected data is tagged with the operators and shift that was involved. This data can help reveal reasons for poor equipment/personnel performance as well as test ways of reducing these numbers
Production figures should be broken down to show the figures from all the involved machines. Having done this, the rates of production of each involved equipment can be assessed. From this assessment, targets and optimization opportunities can be identified.
This parameter can be described as the time taken to accomplish a given task/request. A packaging machine’s TAT for example, will be the time taken between sealing and cutting the previous package, to doing the same on the next one. Some machines will have internal timers to give you this value. Alternatively, you can record it using a stopwatch.
Machine breakdowns or changeover procedures constitute downtime – the time when the machine is not operational. Do you keep track of this metric?
Downtime is the elephant in the room for many production teams because of not keeping track of it. Planned and unplanned downtime should be recorded keenly for purposes of resource planning and preventive maintenance. Downtime directly contributes to financial returns. Operators should record downtime sessions and tag them with the associated reasons for analysis later on. The most common reasons can simply have codes (e.g. MT for maintenance) for easier recording.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
“Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things”
OEE combines equipment/process performance with the product quality to give an indication of resource utilization.
From a safety point of view, an accident is an unplanned event that could result in harm/damage to property or loss of life. It is contradictory to expectations of safety practices which are to identify and mitigate hazards that might lead to incidents.
An incident is an unplanned event that also hinders the completion of a given task. It also has the implications of causing harm or damage. The main differentiator from an accident is that incidents can be prepared for and/or prevented. More on accidents, incidents and near miss can be found here
Keeping track of such occurrences helps the production team (and the whole company) take the necessary precautions to stay safe within the plant. It is also a contributor to health and safety training.
Without keeping track of production metrics, setting targets becomes a huge hurdle towards making your production processes more efficient. So before putting out random figures that will collect dust on the floor, make sure you have gathered and analysed the other metrics over at least 12 weeks of production.
Afterwards, improvement opportunities can be identified and targets set in order to achieve production goals. Social targets for your teams will include behavioral change, training, consistency in tracking data among others. When it comes to production, setting targets for each of the equipment/processes is the way to go.
It is one thing to talk about production control and a whole other to implement it. Now that you have seen its importance, it is integral to implement it and to do so effectively. Remember, your company personnel have the power to make or break your efforts. Therefore invest adequately in training and collaborating with them