Balancing Speed Against Efficiency In Manufacturing Operations

Posted on: 28 May 2021

Efficiency is one of the most common buzzwords in the world of manufacturing operations. Businesses have to strike the right balance between efficiency and speed, though.

To study how to find that balance, they often turn to manufacturing operations consulting professionals. Here's how a consultant is likely to assess your needs and determine the appropriate balance between speed and efficiency.

Company Goals

Foremost, a manufacturing business operations consulting firm will look at your company's goals. It's often necessary to prioritize speed over efficiency to meet deadlines, especially in the short term. If a company needs to get 100 widgets out the door each day, it probably isn't inclined to tell customers that it's cutting back output to prioritize efficiency. Meeting your production goals is always the first objective.


It's also critical to take a detailed look at how your operation is working. This may require a complete audit of the manufacturing process. Consultants will watch the process unfold, speak with workers and managers, and take notes about strengths and weaknesses. They also will note what the costs and benefits are for doing tasks faster versus more efficiently.

Analyzing Processes

In many cases, speed and efficiency aren't mutually exclusive. Fortunately, there are often ways for you to improve your manufacturing processes. Many businesses adopt systems for flagging when different stages of the process are done.

For example, a car manufacturer might have a factory line process that identifies when the body is ready to be wired. They often use automated systems to trigger the completion signal so the people at the next stage of the process can prepare their stations.

It's common for processes to have speed and efficiency issues. A consultant will examine how you may tighten the process to maximize both.

Supply Chains

Materials and components often induce reductions in speed and efficiency. If you're not able to get parts from upstream partners in time, you may end up idling equipment and people. This leads to delays and waste, especially if reordering and task completion are well-synchronized.

Simply improving the way reorders are done relative to the completion of tasks can frequently reduce supply chain issues. For example, reordering 5% soon might lead to improvements in speed and efficiency that more than offset the costs of doing reordering faster.

In many instances, you can work with third parties to better integrate the reordering of materials and parts. Sometimes, though, the best move may be to find new partners.