Manufacturing industries are faced with several challenges among them bottlenecks which are noted to hinder efficient and fast production rate. It is, therefore, imperative that managers and other individuals in the top positions devise strategies that are aimed at customer satisfaction and timely delivery of products. Also, it is essential that while they embark on increasing production speed, they ensure that the quality of the product is not affected. The footwear industry is one of the production companies where bottlenecks are considered a challenge although it is important to note that some originate from stakeholders such as untimely delivery of raw materials. One of the main bottlenecks is the batch production with regards to timely delivery of product order. It is, therefore, important for footwear industry to consider some of the effectively noted strategies such as the theory of constraints (TOC) to avert possible bottlenecks in the production process. While batch production bottleneck still remains a major challenge in the footwear industry, TOC can be employed to mitigate its effects such as poor quality and late delivery through employing strategies such as product scheduling based on urgency
A bottleneck also referred to as a constraint is relevant in a manufacturing process at a point where a product in a production process bunches, reduces speed and in some cases stops. The term is also described as the resource that requires more time in a supply chain. An essential aspect in a bottleneck is that it is a key determiner of throughput in a supply chain (Hathaway, 2014). An example in real life is when people are hiking, and there is a slower member reducing the overall speed of the activity. He or she at this point is referred to as bottleneck. Managers and other individuals supervising the production process are therefore required to identify possible bottlenecks early enough or else fail to achieve the set throughput. Some of the most significant impacts of failing to recognize a bottleneck are decrease in profits as a result of reduced speed in production. It is noted that bottleneck cost per hour is directly proportional to an hour of supply resulting in the loss of supply chain throughput. Other negative impacts of bottlenecks include losing customers to other companies and long queues.
Analysing the Footwear Industry
The footwear industry report is focused on five main aspects; earning per share, return on equity, stock price, credit rating, and image rating. In all these aspects both the investors and industry directors have developed targets which determine the performance with each having 20 points aim. The investor expectation should equal the performance target. If the achievement exceeds the target, then it is considered an additional point. However, the opposite reflects an issue in the industry production process, for instance, a bottleneck (Tiago & Covas, 2014). To achieve target maximum points, the industry must consider effective management in averting possible bottlenecks and other issues. Of importance to note is that shoe making is considered as one of the labour intensive processes and is also characterised by rapid changes based on factors such as fashion. The industry, therefore, has to keep up with competition through several strategies that ensure effective production. Through simulation, the manufacturing operations are easily attained which follow a general process of designing, cutting and finally closing.
There exist various examples of bottlenecks in the footwear industry which may prevent the production of shoes according to the strategy. In the smart sole production, for instance, it entails different designs which are made according to the customer preference. While there are soles made to monitor the location of an individual, others are used to record distance and calories, usually used by athletes. The GPS smart sole is used to monitor the location of children and patients such as those suffering from Alzheimer. Currently, the research that is going on aims at producing a shoe that can be used to charge a smartphone through harnessing the foot power. In all these processes, examples of bottlenecks include batch production and fluctuation in the use of individual machines. In the bottleneck shiftiness, it is inflicted by factors such as variation in order arrival time, shortage material and variation in priority (Ferencikova, 2012). The main contributor of this bottleneck is the different orders which cannot be achieved by the deadline. One of the main strategies that are used to avert possible bottlenecks is using the Theory of Constraints which explains how the management can increase the profits, use the machines efficiently and improve the throughput of the supply chain.
Impact of Bottleneck in the Footwear Industry
Bottleneck usually has a negative impact on the manufacturing plant and is noted in the consequences of various constraints. While some depend on the external factors such as demand by customers, others are affiliated with the company operations such as shiftiness and design preferences. One of the major impacts is not achieving the daily production target of a specific model whose constraint is the daily production schedule (Hathaway, 2014). Another impact is not achieving the daily goal of total required shoe models. This is attributed to the constraint of producing various models at the same time which reduces the production rate. Moreover, it is not possible to consider producing a single design on a particular day thus the challenge of lower production rate. Another impact is a poor quality which arises from increased speed when the management is averting the challenge of reduced rate.
Using TOC in Solving Batch Production Bottleneck
Before beginning the TOC application in the production of shoes, sheets making process, it is first important to consider the manufacturing process whose sequence is as follows. The raw materials are first stored after which they are printed, blanked, and finally packed into the store room. Two of adjacent processes that occur include laminating and greasing or gluing (Muhammed et al., 2012). The production capacity is dependent on the machine working shift, break time and the necessary machine adjustment, service, and setup on a particular day. It is also important to consider the individual operations and their particulars.
The industry schedules the production of a particular job based on factors such as delivery time and quantity. This implies that orders with short deadlines are given first priority. In batch production, common challenges include delayed deliveries and complications in scheduling (Ferencikova, 2012). According to TOC principles, the scheduling of the orders is done based on delivery time. The quantity of the orders does not matter at this point. In the case of bottleneck such as late order request and shortage in materials, the simulated order production process is based on production scheduling. For example
Order number No of sheets specification Time of delivery
O1 10000 Multiple colour and spot gluing 2 days
O2 15000 Black and white and multiple spots gluing 3 days
O3 7000 Multiple Colour and multiple spots gluing 4 days
Table 2: Example of Sheet Orders with Regards to Specification and Time of Delivery
Some of the noticeable benefits of applying TOC principles in production planning and delivery include reliability in delivery dates, reducing the lead time in production, minimizing stock and high-quality products (Ferencikova, 2012). For instance, in the above example, both O1 and O2 are conducted simultaneously which means by the third day, they will all be over since one single order cannot be produced alone in a given day. Also as shown in chart 1, by combining O1, O2, and O3 in the second day, the workload on the third day is reduced which is an advantage to the company. Also, by clearing a given order based on urgency reduces the storage stock. The issue of quality is also considered in such a situation.
In conclusion, there are different challenges that affect the production process in a manufacturing company. Bottleneck also identified as the constraint is one of the problems which refer to the reduction in production rate and speed as a result of a process in the supply chain requiring more time. Some of the impacts of a bottleneck in the foot ware industry include late delivery and reduced profits. Among the proposed strategies to avert bottleneck include the theory of constraints which is used by the management to improve machine efficiency and timely production. It is, therefore, important for managers to develop better strategies to avert these constraints through actions such as product scheduling based on order delivery.
Ferencikova, D. (2012). Bottleneck management in discrete batch production. Journal Of Commerce, 4(2), 161171. doi:10.7441/joc.2012.02.11
Hathaway, L. (2014). Beware of bottlenecks in manufacturing Defending Against Supply Chain Disruptions That Lurk Inside Your Operation Helping Canadian Companies Manage Risk. Retrieved from http://www.travelerscanada.ca/iw-documents/Bottleneck%20white%20paper_12.14pdf.pdf
Muhammed, S., Eryilmaz, Kusakci, A. O., Gavranovic, H., & Findik, F. (2012). Analysis of shoe manufacturing factory by simulation of production processes.Southeast Europe Journal of Soft Computing, 1(1), 120 127. Retrieved from https://www.ius.edu.ba/sites/default/files/articles/16-53-1-PB.pdf
Tiago, J., & Covas, M. (2014). Faculdade De Engenharia Da Universidade Do Porto production line balancing simulation: A case study in the footwear industry. Retrieved from https://sigarra.up.pt/feup/pt/pub_geral.show_file?pi_gdoc_id=387881
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