If your facility is involved in the production of goods, among the most important elements of maintaining an efficient warehouse involves perfecting the production process. The production cycle in a warehouse occurs when you take raw materials and convert them into a final product that’s ready to be shipped.
While you may understand all of the components involved in the production process, you may not have mastered the rhythm of them. If material acquisition takes longer to complete than you anticipated, a bottleneck could develop, which only serves to waste more of your time and money.
There are many components within the production cycle, all of which must be considered when improving warehouse efficiency. The following guide takes a more comprehensive look at warehouse production cycles and how to enhance them.
Introduction to the Production Cycle
The production cycle consists of every task and activity that occurs when you’re converting a raw material into a finalized product. There are several stages of the production cycle, which include designing the product, manufacturing the final design, incorporating the process into your production schedule, and obtaining cost accounting feedback. In most warehouses, these stages are covered by different departments, which often include the production, accounting, materials management, and engineering departments.
Elements of the Production Cycle in Warehouses
You can effectively separate the production cycle into processing phases and planning phases. These phases involve:
- Quality control
- Customer service
- Sourcing materials
If you want to keep your customers satisfied, it’s important that you properly manage every element of this cycle.
The main processing phases that occur during production include:
- Technical activities and equipment
- Natural processes and ripening time
- Quality control and inspection activities
- Equipment upkeep and maintenance work
- Internal transport and logistics
- Inventory and storage management
Pausing phases involve all waiting times that occur in your warehouse. For instance, preparing your workplace for production and completing batch formulation count as pausing phases. These tasks result in interruptions to your production cycle. The same is true for any organizational factors that impact your facility, which include breaks, non-working days, and shift changes.
Planning and Control in Warehouse Production Cycle
Two of the most important aspects of the warehouse production cycle involve planning and quality control. Keep in mind that some of the biological, chemical, and physical processes that occur during production aren’t considered to be processing phases but are instead pausing phases. Let’s say that you’re fermenting an alcohol beverage. During the fermentation process, all you can do is wait, which means that this is effectively a form of storage until the fermenting is complete.
During the planning stage of the production cycle, you’ll need to identify the product’s materials, design, and scope. You should also set production budgets, goals, and timelines. If you want to develop a plan for manufacturing services and goods, it’s important to organize your facilities, personnel, resources, and equipment. Every stage of the production process must be mapped out ahead of time.
Once all of these factors have been identified, it should be easier for you to determine what this process will cost. Make sure that you consider any environmental and safety regulations as well. During the planning stage, gather the necessary personnel and resources, which can involve skilled labor, raw materials, and equipment.
Quality control is among the last steps of the production cycle. It takes place right before you release your product to the wider public. During this phase, thoroughly inspect the product to determine if there are any flaws that must be addressed. You can perform quality control through functional testing, laboratory testing, visual inspection, or taking dimensional measurements.
Key Documents and Methods
Throughout the production process, there are a wide range of documents you must create and methods that should be implemented, the primary of which include:
- A list of the materials you’re using
- Production orders
- A list of the work steps and processes
- Proof of orders for equipment and materials
- Machine configurations
- Material requirements planning (MRP) software
- Lean manufacturing
- Master production schedule (MPS) software
- Computer-aided production (CIM) software
- Quality and process management
- Process cost calculation
Compiling these documents and implementing the right technologies and software should help you develop a robust production cycle.
Relationship Between the Production Cycle and Cycle Time
The production cycle and cycle time are intricately linked. You should view the cycle time as the production cycle for a single warehouse or facility. In many cases, products that are similar to one another will be produced in the same facility. If you change from one product to another, you’ll invariably spend time setting up the next product, which is why it’s important to plan the right order sequence for your facility.
A facility’s production cycle is fully complete once every stage of the production program is finished. The cycle time or throughput time will need to be balanced with periodic breaks. You should also focus on doing what you can to minimize setup times.
Batch Size Planning in Warehouse Production Cycle
When you’re developing your facility’s production cycle, you should focus on reducing the amount of time it takes to manufacture a finished item. If the steps you take to reduce production time allow you to complete this process at a more rapid rate than your competitors, you should be able to keep your customers satisfied. Your production process will be more efficient if you can quickly convert your inventory into a finished product. Keep in mind that less production time also means less storage time for raw materials.
Among the more effective techniques for reducing processing time involves utilizing batch production, which requires extensive batch size planning. During batch production, you’ll need to perform lot-size planning to make sure that you minimize the period costs and unit costs you incur. Period costs are all expenses that aren’t part of the production process. For instance, any administrative, overhead, or marketing expenses will be viewed as period costs. Only with the proper lot-size planning can you reduce these expenses.
There are two cost trends that you should consider when identifying which lot size is optimal for your facility, which include the storage costs and setup costs. If you have a smaller lot, you’ll need to pay higher setup costs. However, your stock level will be lower, which means that storage costs will also be low. In larger lots, setup costs are relatively affordable, while storage costs are high as a result of the larger inventory that’s being stored in your facility.
By performing lot-size planning before making any final decisions about batch production and lot size, you’ll be able to identify any weak areas in your production cycle, which should help you keep downtime phases to a minimum and optimize efficiency.
Shortening the Production Cycle in Warehouses
In recent years, there have been many technological advancements centered around shortening the production cycle in a warehouse. For instance, material requirements planning (MRP) is a method that allows you to plan out the resources and materials that you need for production before this process begins. While there are several ways to implement MRP in your facility, the most efficient method is to use software. This software will help you with scheduling and planning production activities as well.
If you decide to use MRP software, you should be able to identify possible bottlenecks that may develop during the production cycle. You can then take steps to streamline your production processes. Once this software is integrated into your facility, you can more effectively monitor your inventory levels and send alerts to production managers when there are any overages or shortages that must be addressed.
An additional type of software that you may want to use in your warehouse involves enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which will assist your company in improving productivity, profitability, and efficiency. This software is capable of reducing manual labor, managing your resources, and automating many different processes.
You can also use ERP to improve communication with your personnel, perform real-time monitoring of inventory levels, and streamline your operations. The right ERP system should give you the tools you need to maintain high product quality, minimize expenses, and make informed decisions based on the most relevant data.
Along with automation, focus on implementing robotics into your facility. Robotics can transport materials, monitor inventory, and package items. With each passing year, additional advancements are made within the robotics industry, many of which can be used in a warehouse or distribution center to improve production cycles.
Regardless of the type of software you use, it’s highly recommended that you keep track of key performance indicators to effectively measure your production cycle efficiency. Any improvements you can make to your production cycle will save you time and money.
The production cycle in a warehouse involves everything from planning and quality control to packaging and shipping. Mastering every aspect of the warehouse production cycle should make it easier for you to keep your customers satisfied and reduce the number of errors that occur during a single production cycle.
You should always strive to optimize efficiency and workflow. Doing so will allow you to keep costs down, maintain high productivity among your personnel, and eliminate bottlenecks. Staying ahead of the competition requires you to continuously improve your operations in any way you can. Adapting to the latest trends and technological advancements within the warehouse industry is essential for your bottom line.