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Why is an Initial Manufacturing Assessment Important for Your Factory?

September 7, 2022

 by David Collins III

manufacturing consultant having a discussion

It's impossible to provide an accurate and long-lasting solution to manufacturing problems without an assessment of the factory. Each factory is unique, and it is vital to understand its challenges and conditions. Anyone telling you otherwise does not know how to provide lasting solutions or is lying to you.

Occasionally, new clients ask us to provide a specific solution to their manufacturing challenges based only on what they tell us and without seeing the factory ourselves. We tell them that all we can give is a list of possibilities and possible solutions but cannot and will not commit ourselves to anything without an assessment. It is unfair to the client and unjust to our team, and both will have unreasonable expectations placed on them.

This request is akin to asking a doctor for a medical option about chest pains without an examination or additional data. Yes, the doctor can provide a few possible solutions over the phone with limited information but needs to see the patient and observe it to give a more accurate and actionable diagnosis.

Seeing the Factory in Action

It is essential to see the factory in operation to understand how each piece works as part of the whole. Only by looking at the situation holistically can the root cause of the challenges be determined. The factory management will see the symptoms but not the disease.

People directly involved often miss a critical element that fresh eyes pick up. Our team has, for example, seen a maintenance problem that no one in the factory picked up that solved a quality issue right away or understood that the current paint process was inefficient and brought the necessary experience to fix it.

The initial assessment allows the manufacturing experts to see the factory and understand where the bottlenecks are in real time, see the inefficiencies, and, most importantly, the opportunities for improvement.

The Right Solution to the Problem at Hand

Armed with firsthand factory experience and extensive knowledge of production processes and improvement, manufacturing consultants can accurately diagnose the challenges and find workable solutions. The solution is tailored to the factory's needs, not a solution grafted onto the existing processes.

What does that look like in practice? Recently, a client came to us saying they needed work instructions to train new people. The factory had a problem with retention and wasn't accessible to onboard people. We insisted on an assessment before agreeing with the work instructions and found that they did need standard work instructions for their processes, but that was not the primary problem. The factory was poorly organized and did not have standard or properly running machines.

Our team studied the entire manufacturing process, focused on the problem's root cause, and worked their way to the standard work instructions. First, the machines were not properly maintained and properly operated. Operating this equipment required experience and an understanding of the quirks of that particular machine, making it impossible to create standard work instructions. The machines would need to be repaired and standard preventative maintenance implemented.

Once those are implemented, there would be standard work that standard work instructions could be written for. If the work instructions were created before the other shortfalls were addressed, those instructions would not have solved the fundamental problem and wasted more of the client’s time and resources.

Firsthand Experience is Necessary to Find the Solution

Understanding a problem is the key to finding a solution, and for a manufacturing problem, you cannot find a solution without seeing the operations firsthand. Each factory is unique and has to be understood where it is at that moment if lasting improvements are to be made. Assuming that a solution can be found without observation is akin to malpractice.


Are you unsure what problems your factory might have? Here's how CMC's manufacturing assessment services can help.

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Topics: Manufacturing Consulting

David Collins III

David Collins III

David was a Senior Strategy Consultant for Deloitte, served in Iraq as a Special Operations Civil Affairs soldier, and as a Governance Advisor to the Afghan Government with the Department of State. At CMC, David advises clients on strategy and investments.

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