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3 Ways to Increase Manufacturing Efficiency for Aerospace OEMs

By OTC Insights Team on April 13, 2023

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OTC Insights Team

Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.

As a manufacturer in the aerospace industry, you understand how critical efficiency is for production.

In this tightly regulated industry, which is often significantly impacted by outside forces, production efficiency is one area where manufacturers can exert control.

As a manufacturing leader, you may not have any control over new government regulations, supply chain disruption, or a shift in market demand for parts and new equipment. But you can leverage tools to increase efficiency to mitigate them. That’s where you can improve business results.


Manufacturing Efficiency for Aerospace Parts Producers

As a business, you should consider the goal of your manufacturing efficiency efforts. The goal of efficient production is high-quality output with minimal waste. However, the details of what that means will differ for every business.

For example, for a high-volume manufacturer, output is critical. Manufacturing and shipping more sales-ready products every hour is the goal of efficient production. Reducing waste may be the goal of manufacturing efficiency efforts for a made-to-order manufacturer. For another company in aerospace manufacturing, tracking production and traceability records may be the focus of their efficiency efforts.

Your efficiency goals should align with your customer needs and manufacturing priorities.

Consider the triggers or “pressure points” in your current processes that will help you reach your goals. The ideas below cover triggers we’ve uncovered in our work with manufacturers. They aren’t the only options for increasing manufacturing efficiency, but they provide a starting point for crafting an improvement strategy.

Process Efficiency

Manufacturers have designed and implemented standard operating procedures (SOPs) to increase process efficiency.

But they only work if they are used.

Many companies struggle to enforce SOPs with workers. Carefully crafted procedures are put aside and quickly forgotten. This can create production inefficiencies and safety challenges. Here are a few ways you can better leverage SOP for manufacturing efficiency.

  • Incorporate the SOPs in the continuous improvement teams and MDI strategies when appropriate. It may be that an improvement to the SOP comes out of the daily meetings.
  • Use workplace signage to remind employees of SOP.
  • Add a sign-off for critical production procedures. Include data collection to ensure the procedure is followed.
  • Conduct regular training on SOP. Even 10 minutes before a shift will reinforce the importance of processes.
  • Assemble a team to evaluate and review SOPs to ensure they are optimized regularly. Include representatives of the team that uses the procedures in the review.

Automation and Technology Efficiency

Automation and technology hold tremendous promise for increasing efficiency, but many companies struggle to implement these applications and equipment. That struggle starts with a piecemeal approach to automation.

Adding a piece of automation hardware in one area, then selecting another piece of hardware for a different process, and then jury-rigging a software platform to manage it all with an employee who isn’t trained creates an inefficient solution.

Starting with intelligent investments and an overall plan to meet your efficiency goals is critical.

  • Rather than separate, disconnected investments in automation, look at an end-to-end solution. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more expensive, but integrated with your processes.
  • Find a trusted outside supplier you can partner with on the project. They can provide best practices, optimize each component, and meet your goals.
  • Don’t forget to invest in training for your employees.

Make Automation a Reality. Discover Automation Tools to Increase Efficiency.

Maintenance and Equipment Efficiency

As an aerospace manufacturer, you know how critical maintenance is for manufacturing efficiency. A machine that isn’t working well can create quality issues and costly downtime.

Unfortunately, maintenance and repair are often deprioritized when a business is short-staffed, as we see in the current tough labor market. You need workers on the floor, and maintenance can wait. That can lead to less-efficient machines, reduced overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and potentially lower quality and increased waste. Take steps to ensure efficient equipment operations.

  • There are outside resources that can help with maintenance and repair. Even if you have an on-site team, you can provide them additional support with a service provider.
  • An outside resource can manage some utilities. For example, managed air utility service for compressed air can improve air reliability, or for short-term or quick-turn needs look at rental air compressors.
  • Vendor-managed inventory (VMI) is another tool to increase equipment and production efficiency and support your team on site.
  • Keep replacement parts and supplies on hand for fast repairs. Consult an equipment expert on the parts and supplies you should focus on.

Taking the First Step Toward Increased Production Efficiency

Aerospace manufacturing is a complex business in a highly regulated industry. Success starts by looking at current processes and operations with a critical eye and identifying opportunities for improvement. Find the gaps in processes and operations preventing consistent, seamless, error-free, and fast production. For improvement, you need to be willing to make a change.

You don’t need to do it alone. OTC Industrial Technologies is a leading supplier of comprehensive manufacturing solutions. Whether it’s new equipment, a better automation strategy, engineering support, or maintenance and repair solutions for mission-critical machines, OTC is a one-stop shop for manufacturing efficiency.

Don’t wait to improve operations. Contact OTC today to discuss your needs.