If manufacturers need to boost their efficiency they will usually use computer programs and employ some automated functions. Normally this means using “manufacturing resource planning”, also known as MRP to augment manufacturing efficiency. Take a company that provides a laser cutting service, for instance. This is a company that will need to make certain that materials are easily accessible to fulfill customer needs, and it is also going to have to manage the jobs and inform staff of the projects that are to be dealt with each day. This level of manufacturing productivity is not simple, and that is why MRP programs are used.
Of course, a system geared only at managing one particular portion of the work will not be very effective in increasing manufacturing productivity since it will only be meeting one set of requirements. These days, most companies using MRP to leverage manufacturing also use a CAM or “computer aided manufacturing” system along with ERP or “enterprise resource planning” software too. In unison these applications can create ideal levels of manufacturing productivity as they will register any job, the materials needed , the schedule of completion for any project, and even specify the number of employees needed for the work.
Let’s use the example of the laser cutting company once again. Say they cut precision components for parts manufacturers and also handle miniature work such as the creation of special pieces for cell phones. Their workload demands them to work to a very tight schedule and a large amount of supplies. If the company uses MRP to leverage manufacturing efficiency, as well as implementing a CAM program, they will know that all necessary material ordering was tackled by the MRP software and that the design specifications for the job have been automatically routed to the CAM software too. This will significantly minimize any chances of human error, which may disrupt the work flow, waste resources, and derail schedules.
Additionally, by considering such things as design optimization these programs will reduce manufacturing costs. For example, the laser cutting shop won’t cut a single small part from a huge piece of aluminum, but instead will most likely see several parts for a number of jobs automatically lined up by the computer system. In this way the materials can be used to their fullest potential and time is saved by making a single pass through the machinery to get several jobs taken care of.
Needless to say, there are software improvements and hardware changes on a constant basis, and consequently any business wanting to reduce costs, improve productivity and organize their workflow should look at at least one kind of MRP application. A number of machine manufacturers and computer developers offer systems that have been especially developed to help businesses increase their manufacturing capability.
Marc Anderes is the Vice President of Operations of Maloya Laser which specializes in Metal Manufacturing and Laser Cutting with state-of-the-art laser systems, targeting aerospace, medical, machinery, scientific and transportation needs.