Monthly Archives: November 2020

An Overview on Contract Manufacturing and Its Role in Chemical Industries

Contract manufacturing is a form of outsourcing in which a company hires another company with the right equipment and facility and skilled labor force to deal with the intricate process of product processing. Many industries and companies rely on contract manufacturers. We are talking about industries involving computers, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, cars and vehicles, and electronic equipment. Contract manufacturers process raw materials to finish products and deliver them to the hiring company, which is able to free itself of the complexity and cost of production and manufacturing. The flexibility of this kind of scheme makes it suitable in many fields and industries. In fact, many businessmen are exploiting this kind of arrangement because it saves cost and allows them to undergo with the business without having to obtain all equipment and workforce necessary to get the job done. In addition, since they are freed from the complex yet vital task, they can deal with other important factors and other prolific functions of the business. Many have found the sheer advantage of this kind of scheme which has fast become a trend in the global economic scene.

This kind of dealings has been exploited by many companies working on chemical processing. Chemical industries provide raw materials for many other industries and sectors like agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals, automotive industry, healthcare services, food manufacturing and production, and cosmetic industry. Many companies involved in such businesses do not have the capability to procure raw materials for their products. They do not have the right equipment and facility for processing of chemicals, let alone produce standard chemical components for their finished products. In other cases, the contract manufacturer does the manufacture and production, including packaging. For instance, during chemical packaging, chemical packing bears the label of the mother company.

There a lot of reasons why the above-mentioned industries contract the chemical processing to another company. As mentioned earlier, this strategy relieves them from the cost of having to acquire or purchase equipment and hire the appropriately skilled labor force. The logic is simple. Why invest so much on equipment, facility, human resources, and training of the human resources if there is already an established firm or company that can handle the overall production? Why would you exhaust the assets of your company if you can efficiently procure the services of a business partner – the contract manufacturer?

Chemical manufacturing institutions not only free a business from dealing with the complexity of the manufacturing and production process but also ensure the quality of the products. Chemical manufacturers have the appropriate instruments and well-controlled laboratories, wherein chemicals of varied sorts are processed. By processing, we mean purification, formulation, blending, filling and packaging depending on what the main company asks for. Within the chemical laboratories is a collection of both hazardous and fairly safe chemicals. Chemical engineers and trained personnel work on and work with anything from glycerin to sodium hydroxide, from deionized water to acetic acid. Chemicals are not easy to deal with, especially if they are to be used as raw materials or ingredients for specific products. A fault in measurement or calibration of instruments could cause a poor quality of cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, for instance. But that seldom happens because any toll manufacturer doing bespoke services are regulated by certain industrial policies that must be observed lest suspension or, even, stoppage of manufacturing operations could be in order.

Companies specializing in chemical industry have the right professionals who can deal with chemicals in controlled and standard conditions. It is important that only highly skilled professionals will be working with hazardous and toxic chemicals because they know the basics in handling, storing, and mixing these chemicals otherwise freak accidents can happen. With controlled laboratory and production conditions and adept professionals, a chemical manufacturing company is able to ensure that the entire process, including blending and chemical filling, are appropriately carried out. This is an advantage to both the main company and its customers.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Steps for Production of Medicines

The pharmaceutical manufacturing unit follows a series of steps to produce effective medicines. All this points are very important and the total production process will be complete only when all these steps in production are perfectly completed. The manufacturing steps contain the design conception, withdrawal, dispensation, manufacture, alteration, liberation, packaging and storage. All this steps have to be followed by all Pharmaceutical manufacturing departments to produce effective medicines and many other pharmaceutical goods. This article highlights the important steps to be followed in producing useful medicines by all the pharmaceutical plants.

The pharmaceutical manufacturing process is divided into two parts. The first unit is primary processing level and the second unit is secondary processing level. The first processing level mainly includes the improvement of effective drug component. Certain research facilities managed by pharmaceutical graduates to supply useful pharmaceutical components also included in this stage.

The second part in secondary processing level of this manufacturing process is that mostly includes the change in pharmaceutical active components into effective medicines. So, with this process we can say that this the final step in drug processing, which is the most important in development of the products which can be used as pharmaceutical products in many healthcare organizations and are used for various health disorders by patients.

The final pharmaceutical products that are manufactured are in various forms like liquid, semi-solid and solid. The solid forms are capsules, tablets, creams, ointments etc. Pharmaceutical products in liquid form include solutions, gels, Suspensions, emulsions and injectables. Several external use only products like inhalers and aerosols which mainly contain butane and chlorofluorocarbons. We can conclude that pharmaceutical manufacturing units have added a lot for the medical field and helped mankind in fighting with several health disorders and are still trying to contribute more and more towards the medical world.

Shoe Industry Steps Into Green Manufacturing

In a world where one individual can own up to fifty pairs of shoes, the footwear industry has begun to see the need to adopt eco-friendly practices. Shoe manufacturers are improving their production methods to reduce the size of the carbon footprint they leave behind. However, recognizing that green assembly is not enough, the industry has incorporated recycled and biodegradable materials into their production of eco-friendly footwear.

Eco-Friendly Shoe Manufacturing

In the late 19th century when factories sprung up in the United States, domestic footwear manufacturing boomed. Due to inexpensive overseas production practices in recent years, shoe manufacturers have largely vacated the U.S. However, the creation of green footwear is bringing some of that business back home.

Less Energy, More Profit

Shoe manufacturers can actually save money by going green! The following production practices are becoming more and more popular in manufacturing because of their ability to cut costs:

– Wind energy

– Solar energy

– Waste-to-energy conversion

– Energy conserving machinery

Environmentally Friendly Materials

The use of green textiles and post-consumer materials within eco-friendly footwear manufacturing has already made a significant impact on reducing the negative effects of the industry on the Earth. Around since the late 1800’s, St. Louis based Daniel Green Company is one American shoemaker keeping pace with the green times. Their women’s Callie and Kenzie slippers are made from 100% recycled wool, more eco-friendly styles are expected soon, energy use and material waste have been reduced in their manufacturing processes.

Green Textiles:

– Recycled Wool

– Recycled Polyester

– Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

– Organic Cotton

– Bamboo

– Hemp

Recycled Textiles

Making a shoe entirely out of recycled materials is nothing new. In 2008, Nike released its Trash Talk, the brand’s first-ever basketball sneaker made entirely from manufacturing waste.

Because the average textile mill consumes about 35 million kilowatts of electricity per hour, it is easy to see the benefit of reusing the materials that were initially produced. Some green footwear manufacturers have bypassed textiles entirely, using plastic bottles or old tires as main components in producing their footwear.

Other Eco-Friendly Practices in the Footwear Industry: Streamlining Processes, Green Packaging, and Overstock Donations

Functioning as a successful shoe company can take a toll on the environment simply, but today manufacturers have choices and economic success does not have to come at the expense of the planet.

Eco-friendly footwear companies are applying the green initiative to all aspects of their business by implementing sustainable corporate policies and green packaging methods. Boxes are being made out of recycled materials and catalogs are being printed on post-consumer paper with soy ink. More and more companies are choosing to eliminate waste by donating overstock and outdated shoes to organizations round the world.

Fields Utilizing Low Volume Manufacturing

The title is more than self-explanatory in itself to give a few ideas about the further details stored in the further segments of the article. Nevertheless, for the sake of formality itself, let us begin with a definition and understanding of what we are going to discuss. Low volume, as the name suggests is the total opposite of bulk manufacturing. The more pertinent question over here, however, is that why any manufacturer in their right mind would actually prefer to go for low volume manufacturing services instead of bulk manufacturing, especially when the latter leads to more profit owing to the reduced cost due to buying off materials in bulk.

  1. In a world of constant changes, clients more often than not suddenly change their minds about some or the other aspect of their good. Altering the same on a low scale is easier and economical as compared to that in bulk production.
  2. Again, in a world with constant and new types of demands, the need to satisfy customer wishes is always the priority. As such, keeping the market stocked with the appropriate inventory and stock becomes tedious as hell if the manufacturers insist on bulk production.
  3. Money is obviously the cause of all things. Every individual is always running behind money making it a very sensitive issue. And so, investing a lot of it in a single go in bulk productions always puts it at a risk until being delivered. Low volume manufacturing in that aspect thus keeps the investor money at risk for time durations that are acceptable to them as well.

Some of the fields that utilize low volume manufacturing services fully fledged are:

Injection Molding manufacturing companies are some of the biggest consumers of low-volume manufacturing services because-

  1. Plastic if and when exposed to the atmosphere for prolonged times without being maintained start giving off smells and showing signs of bacterial and fungal growth- getting rid of which is only a whole other set of overheads.
  2. For nature-friendly purposes too. Plastics, as we all know, are only a bane for nature owing to them taking millions of years to decompose. Hence the mass production of the same (when not needed) and polluting the atmosphere at the same time is totally senseless.

Another field that makes intensive use of low-volume manufacturing services is Injection Molding die making. This field is the partner in crime of injection molding manufacturing companies for the tools used to produce plastic and plastic parts actually come out of the molding die making companies. The terminology over here (particularly between molds and die) is really confusing, so let us try and clear some of them:

  1. A mold can be considered to be a cavity that is used to produce products (plastic, metal, or anything else)
  2. A die is nothing but a block of metal that conforms to a particular and special shape that is used for giving shape to other pieces of tools and products.

Artificial Intelligence In Manufacturing – Improving The Bottom Line



Artificial Intelligence and it’s Practical Application in the Manufacturing Environment

As the manufacturing industry becomes increasingly competitive, manufacturers need to implement sophisticated technology to improve productivity. Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be applied to a variety of systems in manufacturing. It can recognize patterns, plus perform time consuming and mentally challenging or humanly impossible tasks. In manufacturing, it is often applied in the area of constraint based production scheduling and closed loop processing.

AI software uses genetic algorithms to programatically arrange production schedules for the best possible outcome based on a number of constraints, which are pre-defined by the user. These rule-based programs cycle through thousands of possibilities, until the most optimal schedule is arrived at which best meets all criteria.

Another emerging application for AI in a manufacturing environment is process control, or closed loop processing. In this setting, the software uses algorithms which analyze which past production runs came closest to meeting a manufacturer’s goals for the current pending production run. The software then calculates the best process settings for the current job, and either automatically adjusts production settings or presents a machine setting recipe to staff which they can use to create the best possible run.

This allows for the execution of progressively more efficient runs by leveraging information collected from past production runs. These recent advances in constraint modeling, scheduling logic, and usability have allowed manufacturers to reap cost savings, reduce inventory and increase bottom line profits.



AI – A brief history



The concept of artificial intelligence has been around since the 1970s. Originally, the primary goal was for computers to make decisions without any input from humans. But it never caught on, partly because system administrators couldn’t figure out how to make use of all the data. Even if some could comprehend the value in the data, it was very hard to use, even for engineers.

On top of that, the challenge of extracting data from the rudimentary databases of three decades ago was significant. Early AI implementations would spit out reams of data, most of which wasn’t sharable or adaptive to different business needs.



The resurgence



AI is having resurgence, courtesy of a ten-year approach called neural networks. Neural networks are modeled on the logical associations made by the human brain. In computer-speak, they’re based on mathematical models that accumulate data based on parameters set by administrators.

Once the network is trained to recognize these parameters, it can make an evaluation, reach a conclusion and take action. A neural network can recognize relationships and spot trends in huge amounts of data that wouldn’t be apparent to humans. This technology is now being used in expert systems for manufacturing technology.



Practical application in the real world



Some automotive companies are using these expert systems for work process management such as work order routing and production sequencing. Nissan and Toyota, for example, are modeling material flow throughout the production floor that a manufacturing execution system applies rules to in sequencing and coordinating manufacturing operations. Many automotive plants use rules-based technologies to optimize the flow of parts through a paint cell based on colors and sequencing, thus minimizing spray-paint changeovers. These rules-based systems are able to generate realistic production schedules which account for the vagaries in manufacturing, customer orders, raw materials, logistics and business strategies.

Vendors typically don’t like to refer to their AI based scheduling applications as AI due to the fact that the phrase has some stigma associated with it. Buyers are perhaps reluctant to spend money on something as ethereal sounding as AI but are more comfortable with the term “constraint based scheduling”.



Constraint-based scheduling needs accurate data



A good constraint-based scheduling system requires correct routings that reflect steps in the right order, and good data on whether steps can be parallel or whether they need to be sequential. The amount of thorough planning that is required for a successful system to be launched is one of the largest drawbacks.

If a management team has not defined and locked in accurate routings in terms of operation sequence and operation overlap, and if it has not correctly identified resource constraints with accurate run and set-up times with a correct set-up matrix, what it winds up with is just a very bad finite schedule that the shop cannot produce. Tools like AI should not be thought of as a black box solution, but rather as a tool that needs accurate inputs in order to produce a feasible schedule that can be understood by the users.



Constraint-based scheduling within an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system



In selecting a solution, there are a number of system prerequisites that you need to look for. The better an enterprise application integrates various business disciplines, the more powerful it will be in terms of delivering constraint based scheduling. This means that if an application suite offers functionality cobbled together from different products the manufacturer has purchased, it may be harder to use that suite to deliver good scheduling functionality. This is because a number of business variables that reside in non-manufacturing functionality can affect capacity.

When an ERP package has been configured for constraint based or finite scheduling, it is generally routed to a scheduling server which calculates start and finish times for the operations with consideration to existing orders and capacity. When the shop order is executed, the scheduling system updates the information regarding operations and sends the results back to the enterprise server.

Scheduling functionality within an ERP solution ought to work in a multiple-site environment. Let’s say you need to calculate a delivery date based on a multi-site, multilevel analysis of material as well as capacity throughout your whole supply chain. The system should allow you to plan given all the sites in your supply chain and the actual work scheduled for each of those work centers. Manually or automatically, you should be able to schedule work and immediately give your customer a realistic idea of when the order will be completed.



More benefits of AI, constraint based applications



Apart from the immediately apparent capacity management benefits of constraint based scheduling, there are a number of less obvious analytical capabilities. Scheduling functionality typically allows you to conduct predictive analyses of what would happen if certain changes are made to an optimized schedule. So if a plant manager is pressured by a particular account executive to prioritize an order on behalf of a customer, that plant manager can produce excellent data on how many other orders would be late as a result. Furthermore, this functionality can provide predictive analyses on the effect of added capacity in the plant. This enables manufacturers to see if equipment purchases will truly deliver an increase in capacity, or if it will simply result in a bottleneck further downstream in the manufacturing process.

Important Manufacturing Metrics That Help in Increasing Efficiency

We may say a thousand things about business, but ultimately, business is a sheer number game. Essentially, everything in a business is decided by profit and loss numbers. Revenue generated, orders fulfilled and other such data have great importance in business. Some key performance indicators become the guiding metrics for a business. Correct assessment of those metrics is very important for running a business successfully.

Manufacturing is one of the most crucial parts of a business. However, it is also a part riddled with the biggest challenges. Achieving Manufacturing Efficiency is the toughest part of this. It involves too many players and gets easily affected. Manufacturing Processes are generally complex and heavily rely on other processes too. Unplanned downtime or inefficiency even in one process will bring down the performance of the complete unit. Therefore, one Manufacturing Metric cannot cover it all. From Manufacturing Downtime Tracking to monitoring OEE, everything is important.

Improving these Manufacturing Metrics can increase the profitability of the complete process. However, too many metrics can take away the focus from the main concept. So, for the ease of understanding, we will be discussing only the most important metrics here.

Key Metrics for Measuring Manufacturing Efficiency

Efficiency

Manufacturing Cycle Time

This is the base metric for most of the calculations in a manufacturing unit. It measures the ideal manufacturing time of any product from the beginning to the end. If you are able to reduce this time then your plant will outperform. If you maintain it then you will remain consistent, but if this time increases your process will become inefficient.

Throughput

This Manufacturing Metric tells the average production capacity of any machine or process. It is important to note that it is an average and not the peak ability. Hence, if the throughput of any plant or machinery goes down all of s sudden then it can mean some serious problems. It is easy to measure and assess. You can never ignore this metric.

Capacity Utilization

We always want to perform our best but when working in a team that’s not possible all the time. Some Manufacturing Processes outshine whereas others underperform. Capacity utilization is the metric to measure the percentage difference between the potential output capacity and current output capacity of the complete process. This important metrics brings out the inefficiency in the process.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

This is a globally recognized gold standard Manufacturing Metric for assessing quality, speed, and availability. The higher the percentage of OEE in your plant, the more efficient your process will be. A better OEE score will make your Manufacturing Process more reliable and profitable.

Quality

Yield

Rework has always been one of the biggest enemies of profit, time and reliability. Yet, every process produces some defective goods that require reworking. Yield measures the percentage of products produced correctly as per the specifications in the very first attempt.

Customer Rejects

This is a measure of the failure of your process in manufacturing standard products and it comes directly from the customers. The higher the number of customer rejects, the greater your loss of profit and credibility in the market will be.

Downtime

Percentage Planned vs emergency maintenance work orders

Maintenance is a critical activity in any Manufacturing Process. Machines that work will face damage and routine wear and tear. Planned maintenance helps in keeping them in shape and getting great efficiency and reliability. However, in spite of the best efforts machines can still break down all of a sudden and cause panic and chaos. But, such incidents shouldn’t be a regular scenario as then the maintenance costs can escalate multiple times. One of the most important maintenance matrics is the ratio between the planned and unplanned maintenance. The higher the difference the better your profits will be. Measuring Manufacturing Downtime and Equipment Tracking can help you in lowering such instances.

Availability Ratio

It is a simple metric showing the availability of assets. It is calculated by deducting the downtime from planned production time of any process or machinery. You will get the actual availability. It is important for assessing the potential of your plant as well as finding ways for increasing efficiency.

These Manufacturing Metrics help you in finding the key areas to work on in your plant. If you look closely you can find the missing pieces of the puzzle through these metrics which will help you in reaping higher profits.

China Mass Production Inferiority Strikes Acai Berries As Well?

Every product you buy these days, or at least some variant of it, seems to have been made in China. With a population that dwarfs that of any other nation in the world and rather relaxed labor standards, China has become the global center of manufacturing for mass production. And just when you thought that Acai berries, which are indigenous to the Amazon rainforests, could not involve the Chinese mega-machine, Acai berry extract products are now somehow being produced there.

But mass production does not often translate into superior quality, and this is certainly the case with Chinese Acai berry products.

Because of the popularity of Acai products in today’s health and supplement-rich market, many bargain-minded manufacturers have outsourced their Acai berry farming to China. This translates into Acai palm trees, that normally thrive only along the banks of the Amazon river, being grown in Chinese harvesting greenhouses to accelerate the amount of Acai berries that one can yield versus relying solely on Brazil’s limited supply.

What these manufacturers do not understand, however, is that the Acai palm alone cannot account for the amazing properties of its fruit. The nutrients that eventually make their way into Acai berries are drawn from the water of the Amazon river, whose unique properties are what make the Acai berry so incredible. The result? Chinese-grown Acai berries are far less nutritious and effective.

Even more alarming is that Chinese farmers rely on insecticides and various types of fertilizers to grow the Acai palms, which could lead to chemical poisoning and other ailments associated with the use of these artificial methods.

Too many dishonest manufacturers are even now taking advantage of hapless consumers by putting these inferior products on the market, hoping that people will snap up anything that contains the word “Acai” in its list of ingredients.

Be careful where you buy your Acai berry extract products. Prioritize quality over quantity, and make sure you only order the genuine article, instead of a cheap Chinese knockoff.