Why Increasing Production Capacity is a Priority for Companies That Process Liquids
In recent years, ever-changing consumer demands, narrow profit margins as well as fierce competition has resulted in the explosion of product options as manufacturers strive to satisfy customer needs.
This has challenged manufacturing plants to produce a wide range of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs). From premium, plant-based, sustainably sourced and eco-friendly to personalisation, protein-packed and healthy options, many manufacturers are finding that their production lines simply cannot keep up with the wide range of products.
Whether it’s food, beverages, paints, personal care products, household goods or just about any other consumable product, increasing production capacity has become essential for many, if not all, manufacturers to remain competitive and protect their market share.
Defining Production Capacity
Production capacity refers to the maximum volume of products a manufacturing plant can produce. Typically, a manufacturing plant increases capacity to meet an actual (immediate) increase in customer demand or an anticipated (future) increase in customer demand.
Some manufacturers may also decide to stop accepting orders when production volumes reach capacity. However, this can have huge implications. After all, every time a company turns down an order, it risks losing that customer and potential orders to the competition. In turn, this may hinder business growth and competitiveness.
That’s why many manufacturers go down the route of expanding capacity.
This blog article looks at strategies which can help manufacturers increase production capacity to meet increasing demand. One of these strategies is by utilising Liquid Product Recovery Technology (also known as Pigging). Here’s a detailed description of what pigging is and how it works.
Acquiring New Processing Equipment
One of the most obvious ways to increase production capacity is through capital investments in new processing equipment. By investing in additional equipment, this can expand product capabilities and support future capacity increases.
In addition, investing in the right equipment can improve processes, productivity, efficiency and importantly the bottom line. What’s more, upgrading outdated machinery to state-of-the-art and innovative equipment not only improves capacity, but it prevents sinking money into equipment that requires regular repairs and replacements.
However, there are limitations to adding additional processing equipment. After all, a processing plant can only physically accommodate a finite amount of equipment. It will eventually reach a point where it needs to increase the size of its factory space in order to meet the increased production of its product.
It can also be extremely costly to acquire new equipment. This may prevent some manufacturers from taking this step.
Automating the Manufacturing Process
Automating processes, or adding further automation, is another option for manufacturers looking to boost their production capacity. Automation refers to the application of technology, programs, robotics, or processors to achieve outcomes which would otherwise be performed by an employee, wasting valuable human capital.
Automating the manufacturing process can help companies that process liquids to increase production capacity. That’s because automation enables manufacturers to produce more in less time and with fewer resources. This in turn can improve lead times and allow manufacturers to be more competitive.
By automating production lines, it can also make companies more flexible, agile, and able to adapt quickly to ever-changing customer needs. New products can be easily and quickly introduced into the production process. And because automation is so precise and repeatable, it improves product quality and enables products to be produced more efficiently.
Outsourcing a Manufacturing Operation
For manufacturers looking to increase production capacity without making a capital investment, outsourcing may be a strong option for them. Core manufacturing operations may be outsourced as well as functions such as maintenance and quality control.
Outsourcing to another manufacturing company with more production capacity enables the manufacturer to adjust the scale and scope of their production capacity, in response to fluctuations in customer demand. It also reduces costs, by eliminating the need to invest in developing infrastructure or expensive processing equipment. What’s more, manufacturers gain access to the advanced and innovative technologies of suppliers.
Although outsourcing is a highly effective way to increase production capacity, it’s not without its challenges. For example, there’s a reputational risk if operations are not handled in a way that meets the manufacturers standards and values. Costing has to be calculated carefully, as longer term in-house production may be the more cost-effective option.
Increase the Effectiveness of Existing Equipment
Another way to increase capacity is by maximising the effectiveness of existing processing equipment.
From food, beverages, home-care and pet food to cosmetics, paint, lubricants, and personal care processing, many manufacturers don’t use their processing equipment to their full capacity. Not operating at full capacity enables manufacturers to accommodate increases in demand, as well as short-term losses in production.
So, before investing in equipment or outsourcing, manufacturers should consider operating existing processing equipment at its full capacity. In addition, manufacturers could also look at running equipment for longer periods of time and changes to working patterns to maximise capacity.
Reduce Bottlenecks in the Manufacturing Process
Manufacturers should also look at eliminating bottlenecks in the manufacturing process. Bottlenecks in liquid processing occur when the flow of production is restricted due to limited capacity, reducing the capacity of the whole chain. For instance, this could be equipment breaking down or having a long changeover time between products which can have a knock-on effect which hinders productivity.
Companies should look into where the bottleneck is happening. By identifying holdups and identify why they are happening, manufacturers will then be able to incorporate actionable changes that will ultimately boost performance and streamline efficiency, and productivity.
Reduce Changeover Times and Minimise Downtime
Ever-changing customer demands are fuelling the need for more frequent changeovers.
However, changing from one product to another can be extremely time-consuming, costly, and wasteful. After all changeovers and cleaning are lost production time, that can eat into capacity.
So, an extremely effective way to increase production capacity is by reducing changeover times, lowering setup times, and keeping downtime to a minimum. This will help manufacturers gain a competitive edge as it enables them to meet the demand for a greater product variety, respond to seasonal demands and increase output.
Pigging is a technology widely used by companies that process liquids to increase the flexibility and capacity of their operations as well as speed up changeover times and reduce downtime.
How Pigging Increases Production Capacity
Pigging recovers residual liquid product from pipelines at the end of batch runs. This product is perfectly usable and would otherwise be wasted. Pigging solutions by HPS recover up to 99.5% of product from full process pipelines.
Because the HPS pig recovers the vast majority of residue from the pipeline, this enables the same line to be used for a wide range of products. This reduces the number of dedicated lines there are. Instead, dedicated lines can be replaced with a lower number of shared lines.
This increases the capacity and flexibility of operations and enables manufacturers to meet customer demand for greater product variety. It also eliminates the need for new capital investments in processing equipment (here’s a blog article about shared lines and dedicated pipelines in liquid processing).
Reducing Changeover Times by Pigging
As well as increasing production capacity and flexibility, the use of pigging to recover product left in pipework offers significant benefits for changeover times.
Pigging speeds up changeovers because it reduces the length of the wash. Instead of using excessive amounts of water, cleaning chemicals, rinsing and resources to prepare the pipeline for the next product, the pig does most of the work.
HPS pigs are extremely robust, flexible, and designed to last a long time. The innovative design of the pig enables it to easily travel through the pipeline (including 1.5D bends) while achieving maximum recovery rates.
Because the HPS hygienic (sanitary) pig is so effective, in some cases it can eliminate the need for flushing altogether. In this way, pigging streamlines processes and can make operations vastly quicker.
Benefits of Pigging for Liquid Processing
By making changeovers as fast as possible, pigging reduces downtime and increases plant uptime. Other benefits of pigging systems include increased efficiency, reduced waste, higher productivity, improved product yields, better environmental performance, and higher profits.
What’s more, product recovery and pigging systems deliver a high return on investment (ROI) . Most HPS pigging solutions pay back extremely quickly (usually just a few months).
Find Out More
If you are looking to increase the capacity and flexibility of your operations through pipeline pigging and liquid product recovery, then please get in touch with HPS.
You’re in safe hands with HPS. We’re one of the world’s most experienced pigging providers with over 25 years’ experience.