The electronics manufacturing industry is a rapidly evolving field that caters to high-volume and low-volume electronics manufacturers, and everything in between. Each manufacturing operation has distinct material handling processes that impact their operational efficiency and production flow. This blog post will examine the differences in material handling processes between high-volume and low-volume manufacturers, highlighting the importance of adapting processes based on individual facility requirements.
Importance of Reels in Material Handling
In low-volume manufacturing, each reel is crucial for maintaining production continuity. Since these manufacturers have smaller numbers of reels, missing even one can halt the production process. This means that ensuring the right package is in the right place is critical for efficient production. Lower-volume manufacturers should therefore focus on transacting individual packages throughout the manufacturing process
Conversely, high-volume manufacturers deal with large quantities of packages, reducing the importance of any one particular reel on the production process. For these manufacturers, focusing on the right quantity of parts in the right place is more essential to maintaining efficiency.
Labeling and Tracking Components
Due to the increased relative importance of every package within a facility, low-volume manufacturers should prioritize labeling each package as early as possible, preferably during the receiving process. This allows each package to be tracked throughout the facility, ensuring its availability when needed for production.
High-volume manufacturers generally have more flexibility in their labeling processes. Some may store entire boxes of identical parts for easy tracking, only labeling individual reels when they are removed for handling. Others may rely on their suppliers to provide labels, eliminating the need for in-house labeling altogether. Regardless, the focus should be on maintaining a relatively accurate total component count while deemphasizing the need to track each individual reel throughout the process. This does not mean that high-volume manufacturers should never track individual packages - tracking reels on the production line can be crucial to providing accurate traceability data - but in order to achieve the most streamlined production flow, high-volume manufacturers can often elect to begin package-by-package tracking later in their material handling process.
Task Differentiation and Workforce Organization
Low-volume shops typically have fewer personnel, with each individual performing a wider range of tasks. One person may handle multiple material handling roles, from receiving and storing parts to processing work orders and preparing parts for feeder loading. Production operators in low-volume shops may also assume multiple roles throughout the facility outside of material handling and production.
High-volume shops, on the other hand, tend to have more differentiated tasks. They often have dedicated groups of operators responsible for specific tasks, such as receiving material, putting parts away, picking from stockrooms or floor stock, and so on. Generally, production operators in high-volume shops do not work outside their designated production areas.
Customization of Material Handling Processes
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for material handling processes in the SMT industry. Each facility has its own unique equipment, systems, personnel, served industries, expertise, building layouts, and other factors. To optimize material handling processes, it is essential to analyze each operation holistically, identifying bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
Understanding the differences in material handling processes between high-volume and low-volume electronics manufacturers is essential for adapting and optimizing operations in the SMT industry. While low-volume manufacturers prioritize the accurate placement and tracking of individual reels, high-volume manufacturers focus on managing large quantities of parts. Task differentiation and workforce organization also vary between the two types of manufacturers. Ultimately, customizing material handling processes based on the unique needs of each facility is key to maximizing efficiency and productivity.
At Inovaxe we have worked with every kind of electronics manufacturer, and we have the knowledge, expertise, and solutions to provide the best possible process for your manufacturing environment. Get in touch to start a conversation about how you can improve your manufacturing processes with the InoAuto Smart Storage System.