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Editor’s Note: In a previous blog post, we were talking about the idea of lowering manufacturing costs and how a manufacturing company can easily stay efficient by looking at their current operations, the possibility of outsourcing to those who have expertise around your non-core focus, and how technology makes all of it more scalable as you grow. Today’s post continues that thread as we focus on technology and using real time data to make targeted decisions which help your bottom line with a guest blog post from our friends over at Nulogy where the post first appeared

“Real-time” is all the rage these days.

Warranted? I think so.

Over the past two decades, co-packers have evolved to become more responsive to customer demands. This increased responsiveness was achieved through eliminating inefficiencies, maintaining tighter controls on inventory, and integrating all the moving parts of the supply chain.

And all of it starts with access to real-time data. As the old adage goes – you can’t fix what you can’t measure, and you can’t measure what you can’t see.

True visibility means you keep your third eye on everything that’s happening on your production floor. You are essentially privy to the kind of information that allows you to tightly align planning, execution, and decision-making. This kind of instantaneous feedback allows you to react to, and anticipate change, ergo stay competitive. It opens the doors to making the kind of “just-in time” decisions that cut costs and saves time.

To make it more tangible, here are 5 business decisions that you could only make if you had real-time feedback on your production.

5 Business Decisions You Could Make If You Had Real-Time Feedback

1. Adjust labor according to efficiency levels

You’re looking at production dashboards and seeing that you have your 12-person line for an assigned job is performing at 80 cases/hour, while the same line setup performed at 100 cases/hour previously. Your current line may be suffering from efficiency issues. You can visit the line yourself to see how you can reallocate labor to control efficiency variability across multiple jobs.

2. Adjust labor according to job completeness

You’re keeping your eye on dashboards for job completion and know exactly when a job is anticipated to finish.You would be able to anticipate the moving elements needed to transit finished goods into the shipping area, set up the next line to minimize downtime, or allocating labor more effectively. The transition between the completion of one line to the beginning of another could be smooth as peanut butter.

3. Adjust labor according to poor production performance

You can rebalance your line staff based on production performance, as they are occurring. You’re armed with the tools to pinpoint bottlenecks as they occur and address issues instantaneously.

Perhaps your labor allocation was not appropriate to the level of demand for a job. Perhaps a piece of machinery is actually working improperly, and your staff is compensating manually. These are the day-to-day issues that eat into performance and productivity, and the only way to manage them is as they happen.

Without real-time data, you’re left with nothing but hindsight and regret.

4. Production quality checks

Keep an eye on potential quality control issues before your production line even starts. With real-time data, you can see which raw materials are going into a project, before they are processed. Know immediately if expired lot codes are being used, or if a subcomponent that’s expect to go into this line is not available in sufficient quantity to finish the job. If QA is able to receive real-time data on this, they can adjust course to avoid WIP errors.

5. Inventory location

Follow your inventory, no matter where it goes. To run a tight copack operation, you essentially need a live feed of where your subcomponents and finished goods are. This is the only way to manage your operations to prevent stockout, anticipate storage needs, prepare for shipping, and minimize unplanned downtime.

I bet you run into tons of operational inefficiencies without access to real-time data. I bet you’re left scratching your head on botches and bumps, or at best, discover the bottlenecks far after the fact, if you don’t have real-time data.

The damage from not having real-time data to run your co-pack operations, often goes unseen. It costs you much more than just unwarranted operational expenses. It’s impacting your ability to implement quality control, to provide accurate and reliable quoting, to deliver confidence in your customer’s minds, which all rolls up to how competitive you are.

With so many moving parts happening on your shop floor at the same time, the only way to mitigate unnecessary costs is by seeing things as they occur, and adjusting to steer the ship in the right direction. Make sure you invest in processes and tools that can deliver real-time visibility for your co-pack business.