Here’s some food for thought: every stage of the manufacturing process, from production to packaging, has the potential to generate manufacturing waste. It is customary to buy raw materials in excess. It is done as a precaution, in case some batches become unusable for any number of reasons.
Waste can also accumulate during the packaging stage if some of the inventory sustains minor damage due to inefficient packaging equipment. The wrong choice of dispensing nozzles for liquid products, for example, can lead to spills, splashes, and unequal amounts dispensed in the bottles.
It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate manufacturing waste, but you can reduce it with the following practices:
- Improve inventory management. As previously mentioned, acquiring extra stock of materials that are crucial to production is a necessary contingency. You can retain this practice but keep a close watch on your inventory and its movement through your production process. For example, apply the “first in, first out” rule when taking materials out of the warehouses and into the production lines. This is a more efficient use of resources instead of keeping the same contingency stock for weeks, even months, and risking that their quality will deteriorate while in storage.
- Invest in high-precision equipment for automation. Automation can do so much for manufacturing, but its maximum benefits can only be achieved when there is precision and accuracy. Machines for food assembly and liquid dispensing, for example, must be robust and can execute at high speed with impeccable precision. This way, you can increase the quantity you produce and keep the manufacturing waste, i.e., spills and QA rejects, to a minimum.
- Explore a closed-loop version of your production process. Manufacturers whose concern about manufacturing waste goes beyond reducing costs and extends to environment preservation should consider adopting a closed-loop production and supply chain. In a closed-loop system, manufacturers reuse the same materials into producing new batches of the product. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are perfect examples of this. They can be recycled and reused for bottling the products they used to hold. Beer brewers can even adopt a closed-loop production process. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. or SNBC is an example. The company uses their manufacturing waste for organic composting, which then goes into their gardens for growing the barley and herbs. The produce goes back to the brewery to make beer.
- Conduct regular equipment checks and maintenance. Pre-empting damage may not save a machine from eventual retirement, but it will give you time to put contingencies in place so that there will be no interruptions to production. Sudden machine breakdowns might force your production to stall for days or weeks, during which your raw perishable materials will have started to deteriorate. Equipment maintenance is a precaution that can reduce not just waste but also unnecessary costs.
Manufacturers always look for opportunities to reduce costs and maximize resources. The need to keep expenditures within a specific threshold, however, sometimes leads decision-makers into focusing on how to shrink spending. Reducing the volume of raw materials or buying lower-quality products, however, can compromise the quantity and quality of the goods you produce. If there’s still a need to reduce costs, manufacturing waste is the one area you should definitely look into.
Improve the efficiency of automated manufacturing processes to avoid waste. Volumetric Technologies can help you achieve these goals. We manufacture quality filling and packaging equipment for a wide range of industries such as food, beverage, household products, and cosmetics production.
Contact us and inquire today.