Improving Just-In-Time Manufacturing with Better Data

For manufacturers, the year 2022 began with some unique challenges not felt since WWII; global supply constraints of raw materials. Now manufacturers are looking for ways to do more with less, including efficiency to run fewer shifts or faster and more accurate equipment given limited raw materials, leaning deeper into just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, but with minimizing waste as a key component.

Just in time (JIT) is a management philosophy that focuses on reducing in-process inventory, and supplier lead times. Manufacturers looking to perfect JIT practices require data sources with high accuracy and reliability to give them the ability to adjust their manufacturing processes. But the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted this mindset from reducing supplier lead times to achieving more with what you’re able to acquire.

Everyday, manufacturers add new equipment to improve their operation; such as routers for woodworking or new jacks for a forklift, to their production facilities, but before they do so, they have some tough questions. Additional equipment is going to require additional raw materials and additional maintenance, so manufacturers want to know how much of each one will be consumed by the new equipment over its lifetime.

New Ways of Facility Design

To answer these questions about new equipment manufacturers turn to new technology designed to help them visualize their new production facility before they even break ground, which is an approach many would not have expected just a few years ago. These visualizations allow manufacturers to get better data faster since they don’t have to wait for physical jacks or jigs to be built, tested, and introduced into the shop floor. Once jacks and jigs are in place, manufacturers can adjust their processes to mitigate any potential problems, but this is a time consuming and costly practice.

Using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and 3D-imaging systems with lasers the new machines, fixtures, and equipment can be accurately modeled. These models give manufacturers the ability to see what’s really going on in their jacks and jigs before they start adding them to their production environments.

Manufacturers are also looking at new technologies for acquisition, such as robotic jacks and jigs that can add ‘intelligence’ to your robot replacements. Imagine a robot using its embedded sensors to check itself off against a jig it’s supposed to pick up, before actually picking the jig up. This way it wouldn’t have to stop its task just to check itself off.

As more manufacturers are able to visualize their new equipment on their shop floors they will be able to better predict how much of each raw material will be consumed by new machines over their lifetime, as well as better predict your maintenance costs and downtime when you add new jacks, jigs, machines, fixtures, and equipment to the shop floor. If you are looking to add new equipment to your facility, ENGS is here to help fund your acquisition.  Contact your ENGS Industrial rep today for information on current industrial equipment financing promotions.