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Why manufacturing metrics are as important as ever for our changing industry

With costs and delivery expectations pushed to the limit, furniture companies face a new challenge: producing a wider range of items to satisfy a new consumer who seeks trend-based pieces and a more personalized shopping experience, articulated through customization, options and choice.

Why manufacturing metrics are as important as ever for our changing industry

What do these three factors – cost, time and agility – have in common?

They require total production efficiency within an increasingly complex environment under a new set of constraints. The production paradigm of the past, which included stopping and starting machines for maintenance (both scheduled and unexpected) and processes that lacked the automation to send information seamlessly, is no longer viable. Yet while much of the production paradigm of yesterday is totally outdated, there is an exception.

Historic metrics used to measure production excellence are still completely relevant and give massive insight into how furniture companies satisfy the requirements of today's market, as well as well as solid workable indications of where improvement is most immediately needed.

The first step to improvement in any field is to gauge where you are now, so you can turn your objectives into SMART goals – that’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely – and determine your roadmap to achieving them. These metrics and many others have become increasingly relevant in today's complex, volatile and interconnected manufacturing environment. Equipped with technology that measures more precisely and accurately than ever, filters and dashboards that give you solid information to work from, and automation that removes the need for the stops and starts caused by maintenance, you can see traditional metrics in a whole new light.

Yes, you’ve heard it before: speed is key. Increasingly shorter customer delivery expectations have turned our traditionally unhurried industry into one competing on click-to-sit delivery timeframes. Reducing “total manufacturing cycle time” has become a top KPI in today's industry. With technology that automates and measures exactly how long each step takes, it’s easier than ever to improve processes.

Agility is crucial to staying in the game. In the connected internet age, trends and personalization keep consumers engaged and brands relevant. So how does this translate into production metrics? Time to Make Changeovers and Rate of New Product Introduction give us solid indicators to evaluate how agile a furniture company really is. Changeover is the process of converting a line or machine from running one product to another. This metric simply measures the speed or time it takes to make this switch. And New Product Introduction indicates how rapidly new products can be introduced to the marketplace and typically includes a combination of design, development and manufacturing ramp up times. For both, the quicker the better. Depending on equipment, technologies, processes and how they all run together, a changeover can last minutes, hours, or even days.

The good old Percentage Planned vs. Emergency Maintenance Work Orders is a simple indicator with a big impact. It measures how often scheduled maintenance takes place versus “surprise” maintenance, ie. unplanned, disruptive and costly. This is a really interesting metric to keep top of mind as you move towards automated, predictive maintenance operations that are now integrated into smart factories. Maintenance reduces the probability of failure and downtime, increases overall equipment effectiveness, and improves safety and productivity, so managing it correctly is key to efficiency. The result can be measured in Downtime in Proportion to Operating Time, which is a direct indicator of asset availability for production, and therefore has a direct impact on your bottom line.

And the king of manufacturing metrics? Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Availability x Performance x Quality, used to indicate the overall effectiveness of a piece of production equipment, or an entire production line.

Want to know more? Check out our comprehensive best practice e-guide to explore metrics and manufacturing challenges and their solutions with the objective of confronting our more globalized, competitive market, on its own terms: immediate, short-term, and full of choice.