Nowadays, decisions-making of a factory is shaped by four forces:
- market (decisions related to volume & quality);
- economic (cost reduction targets);
- social (safety standards);
- environmental (sustainability initiatives).
Providing solutions to all of the above challenges, process optimization takes an important place in the decision-making toolkit of a contemporary manufacturer. As a quantitative tool for industrial decision-making, it rests on these three principles:
”There is a clearly stated objective.”
”There are several alternative courses of action.”
”There are measurable benefits associated with these alternatives.”
Needless to say that the impact of process optimization is compromised once any of these principles is neglected. Process optimization is a rigorous approach aimed at tangible results.
At its essence, process optimization is the act of making the process as good as possible by improving specific parameters without violating specific constraints (e.g. safety, capacity, quality, regulations, etc.). Fundamentally, there are three parameters that a manufacturer can adjust to achieve optimal process performance:
This type of optimization is largely concerned with leveraging existing equipment to its fullest advantage.
There are hundreds of control loops in a typical factory, each used to control a part of the process such as temperature, flow, speed, light, pressure and so on. Designing and tuning control loops optimally helps to increase process speed and avoid material and energy waste, defects and equipment break-downs.
- standard operating procedure (SOP)
The third possibility is about improving instructions that help workers carry out complex routine operations or automating some or all of their tasks in order to ensure desired efficiency, quality and consistency of production, while reducing miscommunication and compliance issues.
To conclude, as a quantitative approach, process optimization creates a tangible link between higher-level organizational priorities and operational improvements. Its main value comes from its straight-forward influence mechanism on relevant business KPIs.
If you have questions about process optimization, let us know in the comments below or contact us directly.
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