Raise your hand if you’re pretty good at getting food to your customers fast. Now raise your hand again if you believe you still could find ways to improve throughput. You can get different, better equipment. You can alter and improve your facility layout. You can balance your workstations better. You might even reevaluate your operation’s processes, e.g. whether sourcing is done in the best possible way?
Time-motion studies can show you and your operations team a lot you probably don’t think about during your typical busy day. Timed-task analysis, as it relates to industrial work, traces its roots back to the 1880s. Motion analysis goes back to studies during World War I of the precise movements involved in assembling and disassembling small arms. By the 1950s, industrial engineering had widely combined the two types of analysis and adopted time-motion studies across major industries.
So, what does it take to achieve efficient ways of working on the production floor? In my view, it is the ability to question each and every process that is being followed currently. Even thinking about doing a small daily task differently can improve the entire process chain.
So how does it all happen? Firstly, the entire AS-IS (current process) is observed and mapped by breaking down each activity to smaller tasks and noting the times that it takes for each task. We then end up with a total cycle time. To reduce the cycle time, a closer look at each of the processes and their respective times is a must to determine the bottleneck.
A bottleneck is one process in a chain of processes, such that its limited capacity reduces the capacity of the whole chain. The result of having a major bottleneck are delays in production, supply overstock, pressure from customers and low employee morale.
So how could bottlenecks be managed?
Once you know the time it takes to produce the different menu items, which stations they come off of and which specific pieces of equipment they come from, then you can allocate the right amount of labor to those stations. If you have a product that takes longer than others, you ask yourself whether you can eliminate wasted steps or add labor to reduce production time.
There are many ways to fix things by redistributing tasks. According to Foodservice Equipment report, say we have two people making sandwiches: one doing tops and one doing bottoms. Maybe we’ll find that if the first person puts the cheese on instead of the second person, the work will be balanced out and the process will flow more quickly.
If those kinds of changes aren’t sufficient, then aspects such as investing in a new fryer or new grill could be explored. If we redesign some aspect, e.g. we can switch to using designated areas for tools close to the work area instead of unnecessary movement on the production floor. Other ways to manage bottlenecks include minimizing downtime, set-up time, changeover time and removing non-value added activities done by the bottlenecks or resources. The advantage of reducing the bottlenecks is increased efficiency, reduced costs and customer satisfaction.
Record Everything – It is important to record processes on the production floor in order to make observations without bias.
Does your production floor have any of these issues?
Process lines not balanced
Operators idle, waiting for activities
End-to-end production taking too long
Not meeting customer delivery deadlines