Supply chain management is a tricky thing. It’s kind of like a balancing act. The secret is maintaining production quality while getting parts to market quickly so that retailers don’t end up with empty shelves. The big question is, “How do you speed up your injection molding processes without sacrificing your company’s good name?” You achieve the perfect production balance by using a multi-step approach. One of these steps is on-site finishing.
Strategies to speed up total production
The primary method for decreasing your time to market requires finding strategies to speed up your overall production time. The quicker you can manufacture your parts, the more quickly you can transition those products to the next logistical step, be that finishing or shipping. But what are the best ways to decrease your lead time?
Keep your machines in tip-top shape
This might seem self-explanatory, but the best way to keep business moving at the right pace is to keep your machines in good working order. It also means calibrating your tools to not only work quickly, but at peak efficiency as well. Utilize solid testing procedures to calibrate essential processes, making sure factors like heat, pressure, and ejection speed are optimized for the task at hand.
Put processing in the hands of the machinist
Relying on the expertise of your machinists is a great way to reduce redundancy in your processes. It’s also a great way to foster a team-based work environment. Give your machinists autonomy to handle production themselves. Contrary to intuition, you might find that the old adage, “Too many cooks spoil the broth” to be all too true as you find your production time rapidly decreasing.
Keep an eye on your materials
“Measure twice, cut once,” is another wise old adage that applies. In this context, it means that a little research goes a long way. Spend time matching your materials to the project, making sure that the type of resin selected has the appropriate properties for the mold that you’re using.
The importance of on-site finishing services
A secondary method for speeding up your injection molding processes is by providing on-site finishing services. Once your initial molding is done, and the part has been ejected and cooled, you are left with a raw product. However, many customers require unique detailing before the part can hit the market. They might require that the part be textured, colored, or engraved, or that a three-dimensional logo be printed on it. They might even ask for a basic assembly to be completed.
Sending your parts to a third party for finishing services presents a huge delay in shipping. In-house detailing shaves off a huge chunk of wasted time, giving you the agility to get your product into the hands of retailers quickly.
Kanban and JIT
Employing the right inventory management system is a third method for reducing your overall time to market. Just In Time (JIT) inventory management is an inventory model that syncs up materials on hand with production process so that you only stock what you need to complete the current job. JIT goes hand in hand with the Kanban system that was pioneered by the Toyota company in the 1970s. Kanban is an inventory system that uses signals, signs, or some other form of visual cue to dictate when a station or machine needs supplies. Kanban and JIT work together to create a continuous and efficient workflow free from unnecessary interruption.
Using technology to speed up supply
The fourth and final method for speeding up your manufacturing process is to embrace new technologies. While the above methods are time tested, don’t neglect advancements in injection molding techniques and equipment. Advancements can range from newer 3D printing machines that run cooler and more efficiently, to plant-based plastic resins that have all the same properties as synthetic plastics but are environmentally friendly. Technology moves at a frightening pace that could very well have a material effect on your production process.
On-site finishing with Proto Plastics
Workflow efficiency doesn’t always happen overnight. Streamlining your manufacturing operations is an ongoing project. You can always find a better, faster, cleaner way of doing business. In the meantime, it helps to partner with an injection molding specialist with on-site finishing services that can help you reduce your production time by handling all your needs in-house. Please contact a representative today to discuss your design needs.