For chemical manufacturers, the very existence of their business relies on maintaining consistent quality. Without this, your product can’t be used (whether that’s because it’s dangerous or it doesn’t fulfil its purpose), and therefore can’t be sold – meaning you can’t grow your organisation.
SMEs specifically design the manufacturing process so that they have the best chances of reaching consistency, but a lot of manual work is often involved. Of course, this means high overheads and production costs, as well as countless spreadsheets to track KPIs and progress. This method is just as susceptible as paper to human error and mistakes when it comes to compliance and discipline. What’s more, it can’t respond well to surges in demand, and increases time and staff costs.
Process problems like these simply can’t happen in chemical industries. If businesses like yours end up with the wrong product, you can’t take it apart, fix it and put it back together like other manufacturers can. Events (such as weighing, adding and mixing ingredients) need to be tracked at every stage, which requires a standardised process. And that’s where improvement methodologies like 5S, lean and Kaizen can help, as well as manufacturing tools that can measure overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
These process standardisation and remodelling tools ensure that you maintain a customer-first approach and design a user-friendly process. Knowing your OEE will help benchmark your future success when you adopt new processes or systems, and make business decisions based on the right data.
Your people should know what good looks like too. A workflow management solution can act as their guide, helping them to follow the correct procedures and reduce non-productive time. They should also have the right digital skills. With stats revealing that 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025, you need to guarantee that your business can replace your Generation X workers when they retire. Augmented reality tools can help here.
As for the technologies that can deliver you with in-process control? Here are just a few you may want to explore:
- Robotics – To move components, as well as help with filling, bottling, crushing, dehydrating, packaging, palletising and dispatch
- Automation – To automate robotic processes, reduce the amount of heavy lifting required and boost precision, and allow for data collection
- Process control – To monitor and manage all in-process events whilst at the same time collecting live data for full process traceability
- Data and systems integration – To harness the data collected from machinery to provide insight into your processes and inform decisions
- Industrial IT infrastructure and cybersecurity – To ensure devices are safe, and protected from both the conditions in your factory and any cyber attacks