People who work in the High-Mix, Low-volume (HMLV) processes face so many challenges along the way. High-variation, low volume manufacturing tends to come with all the complexities that are associated with a broader product range. However, you will not get the benefits of flexibility and economies of scale that come with high volumes.
Whether you are part of the process improvement team, operational researcher, or industrial engineer, it can be more challenging to attain an HMLV project buy-in because stakeholders will want more justification for the process improvement initiatives, validating potential benefits vs risks, and the confidence on ROI.
If you would like a better approach when facing such problems, you can get it in the simulation software.
Here are some of the ways that the simulation software can help in improving the High-Mix, Low Volume processes.
This question is common among SIMUL8 users with HMLV processes. However, with the low volume runs, there are often processes and machines which present a practical batching case. Simulation can prove the best approach as you can watch each work item progressing as a single piece flow and compare it to a run with batched work items. A complete set of results from every run, together with the ability to repeat the tests thousands or hundreds of times with variable conditions allows users to confidently assess and find out the best long-term solution to the process.
From here, you can take it to the next level. If batching is necessary, you need to find out the batch size, the size of the autoclave or oven, number of test chambers, prioritizing projects at the bottleneck, and whether you need more storage to Kanban working items before the bottleneck. However, these things should not hold up your implementation. Simulation provides a flexible and risk-free environment where you can assess any of these questions. They are backed by in-depth results and visual that will truly engage your stakeholders through the process.
Therefore, you should not restrict production as you wait for quality checks on one set before processing the next group of parts. The increase in demand can extend the batch sizes to a point where the approach becomes unsuitable in supplying downstream operations. The team can solve this problem by replicating the process behavior through simulation. The best brand to help you with this process in the United States is Contract Manufacturing Specialists of Ohio.
You can use labels in controlling process times and the route decision-making. Labels are a lovely feature of SIMUL8 that allows users to build high-mix processes simulation quickly. A label is a smart way for the SIMUL8 to apply an attribute of individual work items in your processes. It allows manufacturers to distinguish between various work item types and accordingly apply process behaviors.
For instance, if you want two different types of products to have varied cycle times for a similar activity, or if you wish to use the color, size, or re-work status on the item to create pathway selections. You can give work items multiple labels and they also support high-variation norms decision-making like the express jobs, routing by sequence, and customized product options.
Labels are amazing tools because you can edit or update them as the items continue to progress through the process. Therefore, you can track events on the simulation as they continue to take place. How many items needed re-work, the number of completed cycles of the looping operation, or even the waiting time count that a customer experience.
With these insights, you will be able to get the high-mix, low volume process right the first time. When handling low volumes, you should be able to trace and understand the movement of items via the system. The animated and visual element of simulation allows you to track this flow and see any non-value add time or blockages in the process.
These include streamlining, outsourcing, and automation. Most of the High Mix, Low-Volume processes have evolved to the current state via a series of incremental changes. For instance, parts of the process that you add over the years to cope with increased demand or a new product line. When the approach begins to become stretched, it may be hard to convince the stakeholders that merely adding another machine will no longer remain as effective.
Improving this process presents two challenges. These include how to accurately and safely test out options which are radically different to the prevailing state and after getting a better option, how do you excite and satisfy the stakeholders to onboard them.
The most common approach that peoples use to demonstrate a new approach with simulation are automation, outsourcing, and streamlining. All these approaches are effective ways of walking stakeholders through the proposed changes to help them visualize their current and future state.
Test Schedules Against Rework Rates and Bottlenecks
Demand isn’t the only factor to determine whether the process will become high volume or not. For instance, in the case of aerospace, there are several processes where the demand is high but the process remains low volume due to the time-consuming and intricacy nature of the work alongside failure rates and rigid testing regimes.
Simulation offers several benefits under all these conditions. It will help you to identify the critical factor or bottlenecking that delays the process flow. It also allows you to test multiple options for solving several issues. You will know whether you should bring on more teams or staff, improve the pass-rate, rework failed parts and test them again or whether you should prioritize re-worked parts over new ones that extend the lead times.
If the results indicate that you can’t attain target throughput within the allotted time even when you change the strategy, the simulation will serve as evidence of formulating another plan of action. The ability to spot this long before implementation is a great benefit of simulation.
Provide Ongoing Documentation, Management, and Communication of the Process
The process change rate seems to be higher for High-Mix, Low-Volume systems than with the other production strategies. From the bringing of better tech replacing legacy machines to introducing new streams of products online, together with Lean Six Sigma activity, all these represent changes to the process that you need to understand, document, and communicate to the staff.
From the boardroom to the shop-floor, simulation is a highly effective tool of visualizing the changes and engaging your staff to draw out their questions and input well before the implementation. You can visualize the benefits of this engagement in your projects first hand. When you use simulation to walk through the current process, identifying any problems, and assessing the proposed improvements will help everyone fully understand the current process and why changes are necessary. With this shared understanding, you will be able to motivate your staff and help from your project as a collaboration opportunity and not a top-down management exercise when the operational staff may feel as if they don’t have any involvement.
At the end of the High-Mix, Low0volume project, you will get a lot of benefits from the simulation process. It is a concise record of the process rules which manage the rules and decision making for the documentation process. You can even use it to train new staff or to test the quick what-if questions that crop up on a daily basis. For example, to develop strategies for coping if you suspend critical activities or in managing higher than normal volumes.
You can also share the simulation with other parties to enhance the other parts of the process. For instance, passing it over to a supplier to allow them to coordinate deliveries better to the process timings or send the simulation to another firm within the organization to replicate a similar or the same process. You can easily and quickly do this online through SMIUL8 Studio and then share your simulation with other users.
Lastly, when the next project is around the corner, you have to begin with an accurate simulation of your process. When you maintain an ongoing simulation in the process to utilize for risk-free experimentation, you will maintain a continuous culture of improvement and maintain the discussion on new initiatives like active focus for your team. The best company to work on your High-Mix, Low Volume project in the United States is Contract Manufacturing Specialists of Ohio.
The company commands the largest customer base when it comes to all forms of laser cutting and metal fabrication projects. You can get your name on this list by simply consuming our contract manufacturing services.
Our core offerings and services at Contract Manufacturing Specialists of Ohio includes, but is not limited to, the following:
We service multiple cities throughout the state of Ohio. We provide all the services listed above, and much more in every city throughout Ohio.
If you don’t see your city listed or a specific service listed, don’t worry. All you have to do is contact us by either giving us a call or filling out our online contact form. Then we’ll discover what are some of the top solutions for you, your business, and executing a solid solution.