When discussing inventory management optimization, efficiency usually enters the conversation. More businesses are focusing on efficiency today than ever before, as more is understood about how these variables factors into business success. In a recent Manufacturing.net article, contributor Michael Overturf explored this topic of lean energy management for the manufacturing sector, discussing a few principles that could be particularly useful.
Overturf noted that many U.S. industrial businesses have been doing more while utilizing fewer energy resources, referencing data that indicated productivity has improved by nearly 1,000 percent between 1960 and 2010.
"Energy is a discretionary expense, and the less you pay for it, the more competitive the value added product," Overturf wrote. "So while energy is no longer a major share of cost such as raw materials, reductions in that cost do fall straight to operating profits. That means there's plenty of motivation to improve energy productivity by another 1,000 percent over the next fifty years. But it may take a new business model."
Manufacturing Inventory Control Systems
While it may not be entirely obvious how manufacturers can make alterations to improve energy conversion cycle times, Overturf explained that they have a significant amount of control over these kinds of variables. An inventory management program that takes a "just-in-time" approach enables managers to be more efficient by controlling the amount of raw material that sits on the loading dock. This can reduce the amount of material in the manufacturing process as a whole, instead aligning supplies with customer demand. This can not only accelerate production, but also lead to less wasted energy during the development process.
In order to ensure that the amount of raw materials sitting on the loading dock is proper, manufacturers can utilize inventory control software that utilizes electronic data capture to provide an accurate picture of real-time demand as well as historical cycles. Efficiency can also be improved in the packaging stage, and, according to a recent Automation World article, one metric being increasingly utilized in manufacturing is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Measuring OEE, alongside inventory control measures, can also help a manufacturer improve efficiency, as it details how equipment is functioning. As Automation World explained, OEE can lead to a reduced production time, which also means that the production line will run for fewer hours, leading to reduced labor and energy costs.
"Manufacturers typically think they know what's causing inefficiencies in their process," Mike Alyounes, weigh price product manager for Ossid, said to the source. "but when you actually measure the process, you realize there are factors you didn't even think to look at."