Identifying & Solving Bottlenecking in Your Shop

Bottlenecking is an annoyance that almost all shops have to deal with at some point.  Since some things can get so routine, we become so used to the small inconveniences that we often forget that there are sometimes simple solutions to.

Listed is the cycle of Bottlenecking and the questions you should be asking yourself.

Identify the problem

Of course, the first step to fixing a problem is identifying it. Asking questions like what machine on your line is helping or hindering progress, whether or not your machine forms only one part of the sheet metal process or if it does multiple things, or if you could streamline the process in any way that you could immediately think of. Is it human error, or is something deeper going on like an inefficient shop layout?

Possible consequences

Once identified, what are some negative takeaways that could be remedied with either a simple fix or changing out an entire machine? Whether it’s automation or simply a matter of speeding up the process, identifying consequences is a good angle to look at it from.

Manage the problem

Does your bottlenecking stall production time or overstocks supply? By identifying the specific cause of the bottleneck and the negative results it has, your shop manager can quickly and productively get to the root of the problem and change it.

Prevent future bottlenecks

Repeat this quick process with every machine or area in your building a couple of times a year. Really take a deep dive into what could or should be done to prevent bottlenecking in the future. Bottlenecks can possibly hinder employee morale by causing stress and frustration if a problem isn’t pinpointed and properly taken care of as a result.

There’s only so much that can be done before you need to take a look at the automation of your machine, so if your bottlenecking problem turns out to be more involved than anticipated, go through this process again with your manager and start shopping around for equipment that increases productivity, has a smaller margin of error and keeps the process consistent. Bottlenecking hinders a streamlined and throughput process that can be easily identified and fixed if looked at from a closer point of view. It’s a win/win for both the input and output and a quick quality control check every few months helps as much as possible.