Every manufacturing operation has a set of functions that work together to produce products smoothly and efficiently for sale or further processing. These various processes can range from activities that need to be completed before production to ones that are part of the aftermarket process. Each of the individual elements must be performed to ensure that manufacturing continues without delay.
Involved in guaranteeing production are supplies and supporting materials that seem to be inconsequential but are responsible for the flawless transition of every component. These supportive functions are very much in the background of the overall process and may only be noticed when they are not completed on time or inappropriately.
The major concern when the various elements do not mesh and lose their momentum is the slowing down of production or having it come to a complete halt, which is expensive and may cause problems further up the supply chain. To prevent such delays, supply chain managers carefully monitor and examine the movement and transport of the necessary supplies.
The first step in determining any problem in supplying raw materials is a close examination of each of the incremental parts of the process, which can include types of electrical components, conveying systems, storage methods, or materials management. In most industrial operations, there are fail safes along the supply chain that prevent and control any errors.
Many of the things that support the production process are considered to be supplemental and minor pieces to support the greater picture. A simple thing, such as a hydraulic cylinder, lift, or motor, can cause a delay and prevent fulfillment. For this reason, it is critical to understand each aspect of an industry's required supplies and components.
One of the difficulties in developing an understanding of plant and facility supplies is that every operation and industry has a different set of requirements based on the type of products they produce. In the garment industry, it is very unlikely that 55 gallon drums would be required, whereas shelving, conveying systems, and packaging equipment are a necessity.
The design and development of a product goes beyond the actual production of what is being produced and includes all of the necessary supportive supplies that ensure a constant and steady flow to the production process. In the case of CNC machining, it would seem that they can operate completely on their own without the need for extra support. In reality, the technical nature of CNC machines requires constant monitoring of metals being used, methods of power transmission, and other small and large electronic components.
The managing and coordinating of plant and facility supplies is a never ending process that requires the closest and most diligent attention to quantities on hand and when the materials will be needed. This range of monitoring and supervising activities has to be carefully controlled to avoid delays or costly stoppages of production.
The supply chain for any operation is the most difficult aspect of production to monitor and requires a great deal of time and effort. It is this single component of manufacturing that causes the greatest frustration and delays because of the importance of the supplies that have to be readily available and on hand.