Seve CarneraSolutions Consultant, FourKites

For manufacturing companies, the challenge of keeping pace with the e-commerce boom has necessitated careful, exact planning and ever-increasing automation. To assist in this effort, many manufacturers have adopted lean manufacturing processes like parts sequencing, or the organization of product parts in the order they are needed before the manufacturing process begins, with the goal of increasing throughput.

It sounds simple: Parts go in the order they’re needed. But the varied needs of the modern consumer are reflected in the fast-paced manufacturing processes needed to produce those goods. Effective scheduling and sequencing empowers organizations to meet demand and keep costs low.

With 10 years in the field, I’ve seen the many ways that inefficient parts sequencing can destroy an organization’s ability to serve their customers. Unfortunately, many organizations seek help in optimizing their operations only after a costly error has forced them to the table.

Here are my three tips to help companies proactively optimize sequencing:

  1. Partner with a yard management system (YMS) provider that can offer the level of customization needed to meet the sequencing needs of each site.
    Different manufactured products require different manufacturing sequences, so partnering with a technology provider that enables a wide range of customization is key to maximizing output. Beyond the needs of each site, it’s even possible to customize parts sequencing at the site itself, producing variations of the same product or reappropriating resources to build products based on demand surges, as we saw during the heights of the pandemic.
  2. Effective inventory management is vital to sequencing success.
    The ability to order parts based on when they will be needed is contingent upon understanding where those parts can be found and having enough to keep the process moving smoothly. Without real-time insight into where parts are on the lot, this becomes exponentially more difficult. By using locationing technology or yard mapping, it’s possible to maintain constant visibility to the trailers and parts on site.
  3. Don’t be afraid to implement automation tactics at your sites.
    These are game changers and the most productive manufacturers are using them every day. Many times, organizations are hesitant to implement new tools. But there’s no need to be afraid of these technologies; instead of cannibalizing workflows performed by humans, the latest solutions actually empower your staff to do their jobs more effectively, quickly and accurately. For example, Dynamic Yard’s spotter application auto-generates move requests based on what is needed in the sequence and where the spotter is in the yard, enabling the spotter to more quickly move parts and trailers.

These are just a few of the tricks I’ve picked up in my time implementing yard management systems across the country. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel the time is right to begin optimizing your yard operations. In the meantime, feel free to dig into our comprehensive guide to yard management technology.

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