Before jumping into implementing a custom VMI program that will undoubtedly result in improvements to your current supply chain management, there’s another important opportunity to improve efficiencies that’s often overlooked. That’s to conduct an engineering and design review of the products that drive the depth, breadth, and complexity of a company’s parts requirements. This is a rigorous examination of the key design elements of products, looking for practical ways to reduce parts inventory SKUs and potentially simplify the manufacture and assembly of these same products.
Working closely with our customers’ engineers, we search for parts redundancies that can be eliminated with simple design or drawings modifications. Manufacturers with exhaustive product offerings who haven’t gone through a disciplined parts consolidation process will almost always have a surprising number of redundancies uncovered, for no other reason than that in most new product design and engineering efforts, designers are not limited to current parts inventory.
Concurrent to the parts consolidation activity, we can also search for opportunities to simplify assemblies; sometimes that results in eliminating production steps, which can save time, reduce cost, and contribute to parts reductions. In other cases we’re even able to improve assembly line ergonomics with small changes to how assemblies are done. The advantage of having third party involvement is that we have experience with multiple types of products, production technologies, and industries, so our body of experience makes us better equipped to recognize opportunities when we examine the current state.
Here’s how we organize the value analysis/value engineering (VA/VE) services performed by our Application Engineering Specialists:
- Part consolidation and product standardization. Looking closely at all the parts involved in manufacturing a product often uncovers opportunity to replace two or more discreet fasteners/bolts/springs, etc., with a single part, reducing the overall number of SKUs; it’s also a step that helps eliminate multiple versions of a single part type in cases where standardization would reduce costs as volume in the single part increases
- Assembly line evaluations. A disciplined third party review of assembly line processes often reveals some steps that could be eliminated, combined or modified, with the result of a streamlined process that typically saves labor and time, may eliminate some potential for injuries, and can improve quality by reducing opportunities for defects
- Product and industry training. Occasionally customers’ employees require training to familiarize themselves with new products or manufacturing processes, and by providing these insights we’re able to improve overall designs or provide solutions to existing problems.
- Drawing and specification review. When a product is in the design stage that’s the best time to get input from experts about optimizing its design and expected performance, and an opportunity to look for ways to reduce parts costs without reducing quality
- Product tear-downs. One way of ensuring the most technically superior end-use product on the market is to take a manufactured piece and, in our dedicated tear-down facility, deconstruct it. This way, we find ways to eliminate redundant parts, to improve the efficiency of assembly, to simplify design, to consolidate parts…even to improve the quality and performance of the product
Total Supply Management™, Supply Technologies’ proprietary approach to supply chain management, was developed to encompass and drive efficiency of the entire process, from product design and commercialization all the way through finished production and delivery. This is how we’re able to give global manufacturers across many industries greater ability to build their products better, smarter, and faster than ever before.