Manufacturing Workflows & Process Definitions

Understand, Analyze & Improve Manufacturing and Production Plant Business Processes

An Introduction to Manufacturing Process Flow Charts and Workflows

Manufacturing process workflows, or flow charts, detail the granular activity-level steps that must be completed to create finished goods from the time raw materials are received at the manufacturing facility until those materials are turned into finished goods. Companies in all manufacturing industries are constantly looking for ways to achieve continuous process improvement (e.g., Lean Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Just-in-Time Production, etc.), and flow charts are one of many tools that can help organizations optimize their manufacturing processes.

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Use Manufacturing Process Flow Charts to Improve Manufacturing Speed & Quality

Manufacturing processes typically follow a strict set of rules or guidelines in order to turn raw materials into a quality finished product. Any deviation from standard manufacturing processes can lead to machine malfunction, elongated lead times or excessive scrap rates. In-depth and detailed analysis of manufacturing processes can be reinforced through the use of flow charts – a few examples:

  • Standardize Production Run Setup Activities: Inefficient manufacturing setup procedures can be very costly (financial and otherwise) to an organization. A well-documented and detailed flow chart describing the exact steps required to prepare a new production run is pivotal for reducing lead times and increasing machine utilization.

  • Create Flow Charts for Preventative Maintenance Procedures and Notification: Develop standard preventative maintenance (PM) processes for each machine in the manufacturing process. Following these processes and developing protocols for notifying machine operators of PM schedules will allow employees to plan ahead and do other work while machines are being inspected.

  • Identify Root Causes of Defects Using Flow Charts: Flow charts can enable manufacturers to analyze their manufacturing process step-by-step in detail, which can help in diagnosing which activities are leading to higher defect and scrap rates.

Key Sub-Processes Within Manufacturing Industries

Manufacturing processes may vary across manufacturing industries. For example, food processing and manufacturing will require different activities from automobile or heavy equipment manufacturing. However, most manufacturing industries follow the same manufacturing processes outlined below:

  1. Production Planning: Works closely with procurement and material management functions to ensure raw materials and other prerequisites are prepared for production runs. Flow charts should be utilized to dictate efficient communication protocols among functional teams.

  2. Manufacturing Engineering: This phase consists of designing the systems and processes required to complete high-quality production runs. Flow charts and workflows are necessary to aid in the design of assembly processes.

  3. Manufacturing & Assembly: The manufacturing & assembly stage includes setting up the facility for production runs and putting the materials through to completion. Creating flow charts of the production run allow you to measure KPIs (e.g., Defects Prior to Assembly, Product Mixing Time, etc.) for specific yet critical steps in the assembly process.

  4. Quality Assurance: The quality assurance function is responsible for inspecting finished goods after going through the manufacturing process. Checklists and flow charts need to be created to standardize finished goods inspection and ensure any defect can be detected and mitigated in the future.

  5. Facility Management: Maintaining the equipment, safety and overall environment of the manufacturing facilities requires specific protocols for PM, temperature, space usage, etc. Flow charts ensure consistency among facility management tasks and promote transparency as employees need to know facility maintenance schedules and processes.

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