Torey Heinz, of Teagles Consulting, has a background in small manufacturing jobs shops. This gives him a good sense of how poor workflow and other issues can affect a small shop’s lead times. Shortening lead time is important, Teagle told participants at his Oct. 17 Expo session, because shorter lead times mean increased sales and enhancing your reputation for reliability.
“Most projects take far too long thanks to employee distractions and wait times between the steps of a project,” says Heinz.
“Typically, employees are working fairly efficiently. It’s job processes such as not having materials available, that cause longer lead times.”
Heinz discussed a variety of way to shorten lead times in small shops including:
- Streamline workflow processes
- Hire more people
- Outsource during crunch times
- Minimize interruptions
- Limit multitasking to increase focus
- Prioritize work for desirable customers
Heinz feels strongly that most small shops try to do too many projects at once, which means each project takes longer to complete.
“Starting early on a project isn’t always the right move,” says Heinz. “Sometimes it makes sense to start later, when you have the capacity to move the project through swiftly.” He suggests small shops make it every employee’s goal to get a limited number of projects through the shop efficiently before putting more projects in the pipeline.