Throughput is one of the most important metrics to track for your processes. Manufacturers are always asking, “How to increase throughput?” but the answers are rarely obvious and are often complex. However, the right manufacturing strategies can help your operations increase throughput and enjoy the increased productivity and profitability that come with it.
What Is Throughput Rate?
Throughput is defined as the total number of units produced during a specific time frame. Manufacturing throughput is a common KPI used by manufacturers to track their production rates and ensure that they are using their capacity effectively. A low throughput can significantly impact profits, so manufacturers are often looking for manufacturing strategies that can increase throughput.
Your manufacturing throughput might be measured in terms of unit, weight, or volume produced depending on your individual process. In addition to finding the right metrics to represent your process, you’ll also need to define throughput based on specific time intervals.
Instead of focusing on whether or not your process reaches maximum throughput capacity at one moment, the average over a period of time can provide better insight. Ideally, your operations will have the ability to monitor throughput both in real-time and over specific intervals.
What Is the Throughput Equation?
Calculating throughput based on production data is fairly straightforward. It is your completed production, whether in units, tons, gallons, or other units, divided by the time interval over which they were produced. While straightforward, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
When working out how to calculate throughput time for your operations, remember that it only includes completed products. If your operations produce 100 units over the course of 1 hour, but 50 are rejected, your throughput is 50 units per hour, not 100. Including rejects in your calculations will inflate your throughput numbers and hide a real problem in your process.
Ways to Increase Manufacturing Throughput
Increasing throughput can be achieved in a variety of different ways. Every element of your factor floor contributes to throughput in some way, so there are many areas to investigate for inefficiencies or potential improvements. You can take action in these ways to achieve improved throughput on your factory floor.
- Analyze workflow – the first step in increasing throughput is to get a clear picture of the current production process from start to finish. This means analyzing the entire workflow, including all involved employees, equipment, and processes, with added focus on which specific steps may have the most impact on throughput capacity.
- Address bottlenecks – identifying and then remedying the bottlenecks that are preventing the manufacturing process from operating as efficiently as possible will help to increase throughput. Collecting real-time data from the machines throughout the throughput process is the best way to locate the bottlenecks quickly.
- Reduce downtime – unplanned downtime can lead to lower throughput capacity because the machines are not operating at their optimal level. Constant machine monitoring and preventative maintenance are effective strategies for reducing downtime and increasing throughput.
- Improve quality control – manufacturing throughput is lowered when there are defective parts that have to be thrown away. Changing the inspection process in order to spot and fix potential errors faster can help make the production process run more smoothly and increase throughput.
- Train employees – well-trained employees who are aware of the entire production process (and not just the one part they may be responsible for) will have a better understanding of how their specific actions can impact the rest of the assembly line. They can also identify areas where changes can be made to make the process more efficient, resulting in improved throughput.
- Automate – many manufacturing strategies are beginning to include automation. Automating and monitoring processes along the assembly line can mitigate the risk of human error and make the entire manufacturing process more efficient.
- Reducing latency – the latency between a disruption or slow-down happening and your team taking action can significantly impact throughput. Real-time monitoring and automated alerts can cut that latency to nothing, minimizing the impact of unexpected events on throughput.
Implementing These Manufacturing Strategies on Your Factory Floor
These recommendations can help you increase throughput, but there is still the challenge of implementing them for your unique processes. Matics Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) is a solution that can help you do just that.
Comprehensive data aggregation and analysis in real-time provide the highest level of visibility and insight into your processes. You’ll be able to analyze and optimize workflows to increase throughput. Automated alerts and work management tools further enable your team to take immediate action when any event reduces your throughput.
You can book a demo with the team at Matics today to see how we can help you increase throughput.