Our last blog post discussed the importance of an initial on-site manufacturing inspection and assessment. These are vital to understanding the factory's current state, accurately diagnosing the problem, and creating a viable solution. Those are the results of the assessment, but they don’t tell you how our team comes to those solutions.
8 Steps For a Successful Initial Manufacturing Assessment
Every factory is different, however, the expectations of how an on-site assessment is run remain largely the same. The general steps are:
- Establishing the pain point that the team will focus on
- Request and review production documentation
- Initial meeting
- Walkthrough of the factory
- Assess specific requests
- Interviews with managers
- Review of the data
- Close out meeting
1. Establishing the Paint Point(s)
The client relationship team will work directly with the client to establish the primary pain points the problem wants to solve. Let’s take a quality-related example. The client is dealing with persistent quality problems where a large number of products are scratched and chipped.
2. Request and Review Production Documentation
The client relationship team will speak with the consulting team in China and present the paint point(s) and the client’s specific requests. The consultant team will communicate directly with the client and ask for production data on defect count, first past yield, machine maintenance, etc. The consulting and client relationship teams then set the date for the assessment.
3. Initial Meeting
The consulting team meets the factory leadership at the beginning of the first day of the assessment. In this meeting, they will outline who they are, what they will do, and what assistance they may need to accomplish their objectives. Ideally, most of this will be communicated to the factory leadership as part of the previous item, however, there are often information silos and not everyone is fully briefed before our meeting.
4. Walkthrough of the Factory
After the initial meeting, the consultants walk through the entire factory from the incoming raw materials to the packaging of the finished goods. The walkthrough helps the team understand the entire process and how each part interacts with the other. This walkthrough may reveal additional areas for improvement and/or shed light on the specific requests the clients have.
Certain things will jump at us – for example, a lot of work in process material lying everywhere, a very long total production lead time, a lot of rework being done, a material flow that is very sub-optimal, etc.
5. Assess Specific Requests
The assessment of the is the largest and most varied part of the assessment. Here the consultants will work directly in the areas that the clients requested. This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring the operations of the line, interviewing supervisors and operators, reviewing the relevant documentation (such as the quality control plans, standard work instructions, etc.), and recording data.
Here the consultants create a report of what they observed. All reports start with an analysis of the current shortfalls. The focus will be on the client’s requests but will also include other observations on areas of improvement. Each area of improvement will have an example of how that area is negatively affecting production. This can be higher labor costs, lower production, more scrap, etc.
Finally, the report will include a brief outline of CMC’s proposed solution to each challenge would be. These solutions vary depending on the state of the factory, the needs and budget of the client, and the timeline to accomplish the objectives.
6. Interviews with managers
The consulting team interviews the managers, without identifying them in the report, to understand the situation of the factory from the people closest to the production.
7. Review of Data
Part of the assessment is reviewing the data we received from the factory beforehand. Review is important because, without it, it is very difficult to measure the process and understand where the factory’s current situation is. Factories often have inaccurate data and understanding how it is collected assists with the improvement plan.
8. Close-out meeting
On the final day of the assessment, the CMC lead consultant will present his/her findings to the factory in an oral report. This will highlight the opportunities for improvement and how much the factory could increase its efficiency through capacity improvement, cost cutting, and quality improvement. A final assessment will be presented to the client and the factory within a week after the completion of the assessment.
How to Have the Best Manufacturing Assessment
Assessments are most productive when there is a free flow of information between CMC, the factory, and the client (if the client is a buyer from the factory rather than the owner). CMC follows this structure to find areas of opportunity and work with the factory to achieve greater results.
An on-site assessment is the best method for understanding manufacturing problems and creating a realistic plan to bring the factory to a higher level of manufacturing excellence.
Are you interested in CMC’s on-site assessment for your manufacturing facility? Find out more and get started by clicking the link below.