21 Sep Impactiva: Manufacturing Excellence
Today’s footwear executives are facing significant challenges. Competitive pressures are growing. The need for efficiency and accuracy is intensifying. And with labor shortages looming across China, labor costs are increasing.
As a result, some are investing in automation, hoping to capitalize on reductions in cost, waste and delays. However, as many are finding, robots alone will not yield success. Like any manufacturing revolution, the shift to automation requires preparation, including optimized processes, practices and operational management.
While the initial investment in automation is substantial, the short- and long-term returns can be overwhelming, allowing to recoup the investment within months.
Like all prior manufacturing revolutions, a shift in technology must be accompanied by a similar shift in organization and operational management. To deliver optimal efficiency, robots require optimal efficiency at the human level. Therefore, executives must prepare and evolve their operations prior to implementing robotics.
Timing of these efforts is critical, especially given the tremendous capital expense of automating tasks factory-wide. If a factory is not sufficiently Leaned before robots are implemented, ROI can plummet—or worse.
So what does necessary preparation look like?
Production flow must be optimized. Cutting, stitching and assembly must be in line and well balanced. Data capture must be organized to maintain process flexibility. Materials and supplies must be fully under control to ensure quality and on-time delivery. Employees and management must be trained and fully committed.
Optimizing factory processes prior to automation allows to accelerate the return on automation investments, since savings start the moment a Lean production system is established, as it removes all waste created through overburdened and uneven workloads. Lean manufacturing principles let factories produce significantly more with the same or less resources. They reduce lead time while increasing quality, productivity, on-time delivery, system flexibility and manufacturing capacity. And in addition, they reduce environmental waste, such as solid/hazardous waste and excess energy or water use.
Considering the wide array of tasks that must be accomplished, the effort may seem daunting, but it can be done in phases with the assistance of process optimization specialists.
Contact us to find out how we can help you.