Inspection bottlenecks are the bugbear of many manufacturing businesses, tying up staff resources and causing delays that impact your own and your customer’s targets. To avoid this, businesses spend a lot of valuable time identifying bottlenecks and how they occur. This can usually be done quite quickly and is the easy side of the equation. The challenging part is to correct bottlenecks so they don’t recur.
How To Solve Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks can occur at any point of the manufacturing process. Administrative bottlenecks can often be resolved by implementing new software and changing your procedures, while production line bottlenecks can be minimised through automation. Inspection bottlenecks are a different proposition. Inspections are labour heavy, involving a skilled team with specialist knowledge and training. Specialist equipment is also required, such as CMM machines.
So if inspection bottlenecks are likely to be a problem for your production line, your two options are to take on the additional measurement resources in-house, or to subcontract your inspections to a measurement service. At Status Metrology, contract inspection is one of the key services we provide, so we do have an angle on this! However, we realise that some businesses like to do their inspections in-house, so we will briefly look at the internal resourcing option, before discussing the benefits of contract measurement services.
The In-House Option: Is It More Cost-Effective?
In the manufacturing sector, as with so many market areas in the UK, the days when a business employed all its required skills in-house are long gone. Even the biggest businesses now frequently outsource parts of their process to third-party specialists, whether designers, health and safety experts, quality control consultants or inspectors. The reason is clear: a dispersal of skills across different providers spreads risk, boosts productivity and slashes costs. Jobs get completed in a faster time and on a smaller budget.
The Benefits And Downsides Of Employing Staff
Of course, for manufacturing, a core group of assets and employees will always be necessary. The sort of decentralisation that you see in some service businesses will never be possible – which is why some mid-to large businesses still prefer to do their inspection in-house. Advocates will argue this gives them greater accountability and control over their manufacturing process; a reassurance that appeals to customers. With an in-house team there is no uncertainty over costs, budget forecasts or service quality.
But is this preference because of traditional employment practices or for genuine economic reasons? Employing your own inspectors and machines comes with all the associated costs. Just ask your HR manager and they will tell you how much time and resources are involved with employing a single member of staff! Managing an in-house team is more resource-intensive than liaising with a third party, and comes with no cast-iron quality guarantee.
Responding To Market Demand
Beyond this, you have the wider problem of responsivity. With an in-house team you’re pretty much stuck with a fixed capacity. This restricts the amount of work you can take on. If you get a surprise order or want to take on new clients, then you risk stretching your capacity and facing inspection bottlenecks. On the other hand, if your requirements change or you have to downscale your production (e.g. in response to fluctuating seasonal demand) your inspection team could be underutilised. This increases your overall costs while adding nothing to your productivity.
The Advantages Of Subcontract Measurement
Using a contract measurement service, on the other hand, gives you instant access to the resources you need to prevent bottlenecks. If you have a flexible service agreement, you can simply use your sub-contractor to create additional inspection capacity at times of increased demand. You won’t have to worry about employees twiddling their thumbs or not being able to cope with the workload. Therefore you only pay for the resource you need, giving a better ROI for your inspection.
Subcontract measurement services, such as those we supply at Status Metrology, complement the actions of your team by allowing you to streamline your skills to focus on the most value creating aspects of your work. You may want to retain some inspection capacity in house, while outsourcing to cover your gaps, or you may want to subcontract all your measurement requirements. Either way works for us and you should make a decision that fits best with your business model.
Using either model will give you greater freedom of action. No business has an infinite budget to spend. So saving money by outsourcing your inspection, allows you to spend more money on designers, a sales force, state-of-the-art technology and greater production capacity. A good subcontract partner will be able to scale your service up and down to respond to your needs, making bottlenecks a thing of the past.
Avoiding Inspection Bottlenecks
Inspection bottlenecks are often a simple resource issue, but they can also point to areas in which process or technology can be improved. For a detailed look at inspection bottlenecks, their causes and how to avoid them, download our new Inspection Guide: How to Avoid Bottlenecks. You can claim your free copy by clicking here.