Friday, June 10, 2016

Low Volume High Mix “Hot Run Shop”

Now more than ever, customers are demanding added customization in lower volumes with shorter lead times. Read on to learn how manufacturers can improve quality, productivity and customer satisfaction, while reducing resource requirements, inventories, lead-times and defects.

The “Hot Run Shop” or "Focused Factory"
The operations in many manufacturing plants are utilized to produce their own standard products. Although this setup can be a barrier to flexibility, it can still be efficient.  The use of the “hot run shop,” or “focused factory”, can make the manufacturing of low-volume, high-mix products which require short lead time easier to manage.

A hot run shop is essentially a factory within the factory. It is characterized as a small, free-standing operation primarily focused on custom products or special prototypes. Its goal is to improve productivity, quality, and responsiveness for prototype and custom short run products.

The focused factory recognizes the fundamental reality that the capabilities of a production facility are inherently limited. The hot run shop must identify and gather the key manufacturing processes, equipment and skilled team members required to produce any possible product that the company may offer their clients. Often, the most highly qualified manufacturing personnel are dedicated to the hot run shop. Highly qualified skill sets can be leveraged to enable the flexibility and quick response to delight customer expectations.

This allows manufacturers to better focus their plant's equipment, employees, and technological resources. Production goals and efficiency are often negatively impacted by bumping the schedule of main products to try to support custom, small volume runs on the same equipment.

Simplify Processes
Hot run shops can result in a simplification of the production control and launch processes, which makes it easier to manage prototype and custom, short run products. Communications within the hot run shop, as well as with outside vendors and customers, improves as management, factory employees, maintenance, and office staff increase their dedication.  Management can make more timely decisions because they are on the factory floor engaged in production. The Hot Run Shop is a lean operation where everyone becomes knowledgeable and involved with every facet of production, procurement, sales and product/process design.

Assigning engineering, maintenance, quality control, and material management resources to the Hot Run Shop improves support services by developing self-contained operations. Focused factory employees become responsible for their own routine repairs and maintenance. Factories who have implemented the focused factory have reported increased productivity, reduced inventories, scrap, rework, manufacturing space and investment requirements, as well as shorter production cycles and manufacturing lead times.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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