If you’re running a business, whether it’s in the service or manufacturing industry, you also know that some parts of your process are slower than others. The packaging machine for example, may be the slowest machine in the factory (ie, lowest number of units processed within a given time) or the data entry department may process the lowest number of documents. Regardless of what line of business you are in identifying and understanding your bottleneck is crucial.
How can you find out what your bottleneck is?
Break down each process in your business and identify how many units/ customers are processed within a unit time (i.e., the processing rate)? The bottleneck is the slowest of these processes. Once you’ve figured out what your bottleneck is (there can be more than one step or piece of equipment with equivalent processing rates), it’s important to understand that this is the maximum rate at which your entire business can generate final products/ completely process customers. If other parts work faster than the bottleneck, the bottleneck slows everything else down. This is a very important piece of information to remember.
How can I manage my bottleneck?
Once you’ve identified and understood the bottleneck, it’s important to make sure that you’re making the best possible use of it. Keep the bottleneck occupied for as much time as possible, don’t let it sit idle. Make sure that the bottleneck tasks are prioritized within your process. Since the bottleneck limits everything else, you need to make sure that it’s getting it needs to complete the tasks required of it on time so other parts can also function.
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