Warehouse manager checking her inventory in a large warehouseThe key to manufacturing success is making sure parts are where they need to be when they need to be there. Whether your business is large or small, the same principles apply and are of equal importance.

With over 21 different articulators and more than double that many additional occlusion products manufactured at Whip Mix’s facility in Fort Collins, CO, thousands of parts move in and out of the supply room on a regular basis. Most of these parts start as bar stock on the shelf, are machined, and then coated, all before becoming part of a sub-assembly that subsequently becomes part of the finished product. 

Even if your lab has only a few employees, it is important to plan for potential chaos.  And, since dental laboratories may manage hundreds of parts, I would like to share my top 3 strategies with you:

Keep lists, and check them constantly

1. Make lists for orders 10 days out.

2. Manage a shortage list.

3. Keep accurate manufacturing order lists.

4. Use custom spreadsheets. They give us flexibility to track several parts at once.


As you check the various lists, continue to prioritize and re-prioritize as new data becomes available.

1. Review and reorganize where you keep your parts.

2. Put parts that are used together in the same area, especially if you are using shelves.

This will visually allow you to know what you have, and what might be missing.

 

Streamline for efficiency.

1. Look for ways to improve your processes.

2. Think outside of the box.

3. Be ready to handle a part that needs special attention.

4. Prepare for the unexpected (parts can fall out of conformity).

5. special handling can sometimes be required.

Keeping track of all the parts is half the battle. Using consistent processes, communicating with all involved, and ensuring departmental collaboration ties this all together to keep our manufacturing group running smoothly. We wish the same for yours.

 

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