You’ve got the demand — now what?
How to increase production.
Your product is excellent. You’ve got customers lined up. Too bad you aren’t producing enough to meet the demand. Want to stop leaving money on the table? Keep reading to learn how do you increase production.
You can’t fix a problem until you can define it.
Chantelle Sethi, P.Eng.
Automation refers to any system which automates a process. Automations can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be. You can look to your tea kettle for an example of a simple automation. Let’s compare the process of boiling water in a traditional (manual) kettle to the process of a standard electric kettle:
Congratulations! You’re taking the first step by reading this article! Engineers refer to this type of problem as de-bottlenecking. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you are producing enough of your product to meet your demand:
Once you’ve determined what your demand is you will need to review your processes. This is the stage where you look at the capacity of all your equipment and determine what needs to be upgraded. You can do this yourself or you may want to hire an industrial engineer to help you.
You can’t fix a problem until you can define it. At this point you are probably noticing that you are selling out of your product faster than you can produce it, but you may need to do more research to determine how much gap you have between supply and demand. In this stage you’ll want to track the orders coming in and collect data on how many orders cannot be fulfilled. With this data you can calculate how much you want to produce in the future.
Now that you have a budget you will need to perform a cost/benefit analysis to determine if this project makes financial sense. This stage will look different depending on the size and structure of your organization.
Preliminary Design and Budget
Now that you’ve determined what you need to do you can create your preliminary design and budget. At this stage you will want to start reaching out to suppliers to get budgetary estimates on equipment. You will also want to reach out to any contractors required for installation so you can determine those costs. Try to think of as many costs as you can (including lost sales during construction) and create a high-level budget. This is also the time to research any grants and/or tax credits this project may qualify for.
If your project makes financial sense and you decide to go ahead, then you can finalize your design. This stage is when you order your equipment from vendors and approve their design. Once the vendor designs are approved your engineer can finalize the design of piping, supports, and instrumentation (depending on the project scope). If permits are required, this is the stage where they will be submitted for approval.
Once the design is finalized and permits have been approved you will need to start scheduling contractors to install the new equipment. Depending on the depth of the design, you may also need to have an engineer sign off on any design changes that happen during construction.