Manufacturing Operations Management: The Key to Smarter and More Effective Production
Manufacturing involves a multitude of complex workflows and fragile machinery. In the process of production, even the slightest error can lead to equipment damage, production delays, and financial losses. The manager's role is to oversee every aspect of the process and ensure precision and efficiency above all else. This is exactly where manufacturing operations management takes center stage.
For years, large-scale manufacturers have fine-tuned their processes with manufacturing operations management software. But today, the digital benefits are not reserved just for the giants.
In this article, we'll delve into the world of manufacturing operations management. We’ll shed light on what it entails and show how industrial automation solutions allow medium-sized businesses to boost productivity and find their place in a rapidly changing market.
Let’s get started.
What is operations management in the manufacturing industry?
Manufacturing operations management involves the organization of humans, machinery, and materials to craft tangible goods. This encompasses all supply chain processes, including customer requirement assessment, resource allocation, production scheduling, inventory management, and product delivery.
Sometimes, manufacturing and service operations management are lumped in a single category, but that is a mistake.
Service operations management strives to create fulfilling experiences that leave clients satisfied. Service operations include areas like customer support and customer experience. They are the backbone of industries like hospitality, travel, media, sports, healthcare, and entertainment.
So, the main difference between manufacturing and service operations management is that the former is focused on creating a tangible product, while the latter strives to provide an intangible customer experience.
In the following sections, we will delve into the subareas of manufacturing operations management and explore the software solutions that effectively optimize processes in these domains.
Production process management involves overseeing every aspect of the manufacturing process itself. It encompasses processes like management of product definitions, resource management, dispatching and execution of production orders, collection of production data, and performance analysis.
Effective production process optimization ultimately leads to the successful execution of orders and on-time delivery of products.
Process management solutions
The main type of manufacturing operations management (MOM) solution in process management is manufacturing execution software (MES).
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a dynamic software solution that serves as a guardian of the quality and efficiency of the manufacturing process. MES systems act as the connective tissue that bridges live information from multiple plants, sites, and vendors together. These systems integrate with equipment, controllers, and enterprise applications, which results in complete visibility, control, and optimization of production across the enterprise.
Key functions of MES systems include:
- Real-time production monitoring and synchronization of manufacturing activities across globally dispersed plants.
- Tracking of product and order details on the plant floor
- Collection of manufacturing process analytics for financial and planning systems.
- Electronic dispatch of orders and manufacturing instructions to staff
- Elimination of human errors with quality data checks and automatic enforcement of rules and specifications
- Reduction of paperwork and redundant checks
- Provision of real-time feedback for swift issue resolution.
Operations management in the manufacturing industry can’t work without effective management of employees.
Workforce Management (WFM) is a strategic approach that ensures organizations have the right people, with the right skills, at the right time and cost. It encompasses tasks like recruiting and training, budgeting, forecasting of workload, and performance monitoring.
Workforce management solutions
Workforce Management (WFM) systems are software tools that help you make sure that employees have efficient schedules, attend work punctually, and properly receive leave and overtime benefits. These systems are especially useful for businesses with hourly or shift-based workers, complex scheduling needs, and compliance requirements.
Key functions of WFM systems include:
- Labor forecasting. You can plan for fluctuations in customer demand due to factors like holidays, events, and weather.
- Scheduling. You can create optimized schedules based on labor forecasts, employee skills, and preferences. Some systems even enable shift swaps among employees.
- Time tracking. You can use various methods, from timesheets to mobile apps, to accurately record hours worked and make sure you’re compliant with regulations.
- Absence management provides visibility into time-off balances and improves the way you treat extended leaves, including those covered by national legal regulations.
- Analytics. You can use real-time dashboards and reports for effective workforce monitoring and performance assessment.
- Regulatory compliance. WFM systems help configure work and make sure you comply with internal policies, union contracts, and labor laws.
- Mobile accessibility. WFM systems allow for quick responses to scheduling changes via mobile devices. This provides optimal coverage even in unexpected situations.
Maintenance management is a set of practices that safeguard the company's physical assets and resources. Maintenance managers track the equipment, workers, contractors, and associated costs. This approach reduces expenses related to repairs and inspections and boosts the safety and productivity of work.
Maintenance management solutions
There are two main types of maintenance management solutions – CMMS and EAM.
CMMS software, short for Computerized Maintenance Management System, is an equipment maintenance digitization tool that centralizes maintenance data and streamlines maintenance operations. It is designed to optimize the use of physical assets like machinery, vehicles, and infrastructure. CMMS systems find application in industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, power generation, construction, and transportation.
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software is used to oversee and optimize operational assets and equipment throughout the lifecycle. The objective is to boost enterprise asset visibility, quality, productivity, uptime, and cost efficiency. Nowadays, EAM can integrate advanced analytics and AI. As a result, it can use data from connected assets to improve preventive maintenance and decision-making.
The primary distinction lies in their scope. CMMS is primarily maintenance-focused, while EAM encompasses broader business functions. CMMS typically manages single locations, while EAM excels in handling multiple sites and businesses. EAM is more comprehensive, sophisticated, and robust, and is often seen as an upgrade when companies outgrow CMMS. A rule of thumb is: companies with over 100 maintenance personnel or multiple facilities should consider EAM.
Key features of CMMS and EAM systems:
- Asset lifecycle management: gain real-time insights into equipment, track costs, and address maintenance needs proactively.
- Inventory management: track parts, tools, and materials with barcode scanning, and streamline inventory and supply chain management.
- Preventative maintenance: use predictive maintenance technology to prevent breakdowns and ensure equipment longevity.
- Work order management: manage work orders, from initiation to completion, in a centralized, searchable database.
- Vendor management: keep track of suppliers, contracts, deals, and prices.
- Incident management: report accidents, anomalies, and more, to create an audit trail and reduce downtime.
- Equipment health monitoring: collect and analyze real-time data from pre-installed sensors to further boost the efficiency of predictive maintenance.
Why custom solutions?
Whether you want to digitize your construction business or start a manufacturing digital transformation, one key question always emerges – should you buy a ready-made solution or opt for custom software?
There are at least three considerations that can tilt the balance in favor of a custom solution.
- Manufacturing software integration. Most likely, you're already using some software at your enterprise. An off-the-shelf solution might not smoothly integrate with all your existing software systems. Conversely, a custom solution is tailor-made to fit your specific needs and will easily work with the software you already have in place.
- Smooth adaptation. A custom solution is like having a tailor-made suit - it fits you perfectly. Custom software offers precisely the features you require without unnecessary complexity. Plus, with custom software development for operations, you can request modifications and the development of new features as your business evolves.
- Improved safety. Security is paramount in today's digital landscape. A data breach can cost the average business a staggering $4.5 million. Many off-the-shelf solutions rely on open-source code, which makes them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. In contrast, custom solutions are closed projects with unique security measures. This can significantly reduce the risk of data theft.
A case study
The Client. Conexwest is one of the leaders in container manufacturing in the United States. The company creates a diverse range of shipping containers, designed to meet the needs of both domestic and international markets. With a strong presence in the United States, Conexwest offers expertise that extends from conceptualization to manufacturing and supply.
The Solution. ProjectBoard.io acts as a coordination hub that brings together project management, task tracking, team communication, and file sharing in an easy-to-use interface. Our manufacturing efficiency software streamlined the workday through the consolidation of tasks in a single dashboard.
ProjectBoard.io improved the following aspects of the operations:
- Optimized inventory management. Precise inventory control enabled proactive planning and reduced excesses.
- Enhanced efficiency. Streamlined processes and customized digital tools have significantly boosted operational efficiency.
- Informed decision-making. ProjectBoard.io helped to navigate key business choices with actionable information, which maximized profits and minimized errors.
- Simplified operations. The solution has simplified complex management tasks and integrated project management and task allocation.
- Helped to allocate resources: A data-driven manufacturing tool improved the capabilities to effectively allocate resources.
The future of manufacturing operations management
As we step into the future, the landscape of manufacturing and operations management is rapidly evolving. In this section, we'll dive into the emerging trends and innovations that are shaping the future of manufacturing.
- IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an interconnected network of devices that boost the efficiency of custom solutions for equipment management. Sensors provide crucial data on machine performance, which enables more precise proactive maintenance and minimization of downtime.
- AI and automation. AI allows machines to handle tasks once reserved for humans. Increasing automation offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced productivity, impeccable precision, and cost efficiency. The rise of fully automated 'dark factories', where production occurs without direct human intervention, is now on the horizon.
Manufacturing operations management software can truly transform the way your business operates. From streamlining processes to making better use of your resources, this software can be a game-changer. If you're ready to take your manufacturing to the next level, get in touch with Apiko today. Your digital transformation in manufacturing can start tomorrow!