Process optimization methods: The key to increasing operational efficiency

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Overview of process optimization methods

As a rule, process optimization does not mean optimization, but improvement. Therefore, process optimization methods are actually measures that are intended to bring about improvements. Where process optimization used to be carried out by quality management, today this task falls more and more to industrial engineering. Processes can be improved in different ways. It is important to set up process optimization methods and to analyze the respective conditions correctly. Process optimization methods can only be achieved by a structured approach. There are many ways to optimize processes. The approach for each industry and company can differ fundamentally.


Process optimization methods and techniques

The increase in productivity can be achieved in various ways. Both technical and organizational means are used, since in combination they achieve far more than just one of these approaches. Technical means or automation can serve as tools. The technical means should correspond to the given framework. For example, the purchase of a fully automated welding robot is not worthwhile if only a few parts are to be welded. But process optimization through automation is an important factor that should not be underestimated. One possible process optimization / approach to improving processes at the workplace and thus increasing productivity would be the 5S method.

The 5S method is a possible way to improve processes in the workplace and thus increase productivity. The five "S" are originally derived from the Japanese terms Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, which represent the five steps of the 5S method. Translated, they mean: select, systematize, purge, standardize and self-discipline.

Process optimization: Procedure for improving the production areas

Layout planning is an important part of factory planning. The representation of the layout is usually done with a CAD system. The reduction of the floor space and the arrangement of the departments to each other are planned with special methods. In this way, ideal process optimization is achieved. Procedure with the triangle method according to Schmigalla can achieve very good results. With this method, the departments can be optimally coordinated with each other. The material flow between the respective departments is important here.

Process optimization: Procedure for improving capacity utilization

Machine utilization can be improved in various ways. A very efficient solution is the reduction of setup times. This is one of the lean production methods of process optimization methods.

Process optimization: Procedure for improving processes

In order to improve the processes, it is necessary to analyze them beforehand. There are a number of process optimization methods that can be applied in a particular case. The process optimization methods as well as the use cases are very diverse.

Process optimization: approach to shortening paths

A reduction of work routes can refer to a work system or to the entire company. In a work system, the reduction of routes can be achieved with the spaghetti diagram. This process optimization / approach cannot be applied to the entire company. However, layout planning, e.g. with the triangle method according to Schmigalla, also improves the paths at the same time. If less material has to be transported in the plant, the distances to be walked are also reduced.

Process optimization: procedure for improving quality

Good quality is one of the most important process optimization methods: Quality has always taken a special role, and especially in an industrial country the quality factor is the decisive factor. Quality is determined with measuring and testing equipment, but quality is created much earlier, and a suitable framework must be established for this purpose. One possible framework that ensures quality could be the Six Sigma method. Apart from Six-Sigma, other statistical procedures and methods for quality improvement are very common.

Process optimization: approach to shortening lead and throughput times

There are various process optimization methods for reducing throughput times. One of the most important process optimization methods is the value stream design. With this process optimization/approach, the so-called value stream is determined. The material and information flow is analyzed. This method also has an influence on inventory, quality, and delivery reliability. More process optimization methods will follow at this point.

Process optimization: approach to reducing resources

Reducing the resources used and avoiding waste are still very important issues. One philosophy or system that has proven itself and is accepted by all highly competitive industries is Lean Production. Lean Production, better known as Lean Production, was developed in the U.S. but originated in Japan, where it was called the Toyota Production System. Lean Production is therefore equivalent to the Toyota Production System. The production system offers more than just the elimination of waste.

Process optimization: Procedure to improve communication in the company

Information technology is used for all sorts of things today, so why not for communications? Information technology already plays an important role in this area as well. Electronic communications such as e-mail and the like are now an integral part of business. However, communication also takes place in other areas, and it is sometimes more complicated to make yourself understood. In manufacturing, visual inspection plans are very often useful because communication is often neglected or almost impossible due to lack of time or noise. Visual inspection plans are only one possible solution to improve communication.

Process optimization: approach to reducing accidents

A basic process optimization/approach to reduce accidents is the 5S method already mentioned above. This process optimization/approach creates order and cleanliness and is the first step for subsequent process optimization methods. Visual markings and the like also contribute to accident prevention. Time reduction is only one of the process optimization methods. Since the beginning of mass production, time has been an important area of research and has also been recognized as a cost factor. There are various ways to waste time, and often the people involved are not even aware of it. In manufacturing companies, it is often waiting and idle times that cause delays in processes. This can be remedied with value stream design. But even in assembly work, waste inevitably occurs if the working method is not analyzed and clearly described. This is where the Methods-Time-Measurement (MTM) process optimization/approach has often been used in the past.

Process optimization: approach to cost reduction

The above methods contribute to cost reduction and therefore there is no specific process optimization/approach that alone reduces costs. For the most part, many process optimization methods are used to contain the costs incurred in operations. There is no specific process optimization/approach that by itself can improve everything in a company. When dealing with an isolated area, several process optimization methods are always used either in combination or individually.

Conclusion: Process optimization methods

Process optimization methods: In order to achieve a goal, it is important to analyze the initial situation correctly and to initiate the appropriate steps with the right process optimization methods. Alone, no process optimization/approach leads to the goal, and when applying the methods, one should know how they work and what can be achieved with them. Only the exact knowledge of the methods and their potential makes it possible to use them correctly. Unfortunately, it often happens that process optimization methods are not properly understood. But the fatal part comes later because then the functionality of the process optimization methods is also ignored. Many process optimization methods unfold their full potential only in combination with other process optimization methods. Using a single process optimization/approach without understanding these interrelationships will inevitably lead to the failure of the effort. Success comes to those who correctly apply the knowledge of experts and use process optimization methods in the right way. With MotionMiners GmbH you not only have a powerful tool at hand, which automatically captures and analyzes the processes, but also experienced process engineers, who support you in choosing the right process optimization methods.

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