We have come a long way from the dawn of Henry Ford’s assembly line, which began in the early 1900’s when he needed a way to mass produce his Model T.
By surrounding himself with a multi-disciplinary team of experts, Ford was able to develop what we now know as the moving assembly line. As the work was now being brought to the workers, production times and pace were increased, leading to a higher rate of production. This idea single handedly revolutionized mass production.
Today, Ford’s assembly line has been applied to countless industries with many improvements as technology continues to advance.
When launching a product on a new assembly line, there are a variety of issues that may arise. One of the most pressing issues is that of late product launches on new assembly lines. This is likely to happen when the product is developed, but the actual building of the assembly line isn’t complete until after the product is set to go into production. It sounds like an issue with an easy fix, but unfortunately there are reasons it’s a recurring problem.
Once the product is developed, each station of the assembly line has to be developed in terms of each station’s process. If you choose to do the process in this order, late product launches may occur do to the lengthy timing of developing the product, followed by developing the assembly line appropriately.
Many industries, including manufacturing engineering, find that extensive and expensive modifications need to be made to assembly lines that are built prior to the final product being developed. This is because minor changes in the actual product itself can lead to major changes on the assembly line, hence most companies waiting until the product is finalized before building the line.
Late product launches can happen due to poor project management, poor product introduction processes, and poor cause analysis. This could ultimately reflect poorly on your company’s reputation, and will likely effect your profitability of the product.
In addition, it’s clear that if products are late being launched to the market, they are then less profitable. Not to mention the launch of any new products already disrupts manufacturing operations, which in turn leads to losses in productivity.
Late product launches are not limited to new assembly lines, but rather can occur on existing assembly lines as well. When launching a new product on an existing line, the line must be reconfigured. This could potentially be time consuming and expensive.
So, are there any solutions to preventing late product launches on new assembly lines? Yes, most definitely. There are ways in which you can simultaneously develop both the new product and assembly line in order to avoid any delays. Proper management new product development timelines and subsequent development of their assembly lines is only the first step; there are countless ways to ensure that your products are getting to their shelves intact and on time.
Keep track of what works for your company, and what needs further optimization. Having your management team maintain a firm understanding of your company’s assembly needs will minimize cost and will maintain a lean system throughout the development of any product.