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9 Easy Steps to Reduce Lead Time in Machine Shops

Updated: Feb 23

Reduce Lead Time in Machine Shops

Your clients anticipate fast delivery regardless of how they purchase or how customized. You'll lose repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations if it's too long. In short, minimizing lead time may greatly benefit your company. That's easier said than done, but with a few smart improvements, you can reduce lead time in machine shops and supply chain management strategy, improving customer satisfaction and competitiveness.


Excessively uncompetitive delivery delays are an issue for machine shop operators since they cause them to lose new business. They need to learn how to remedy it short of shelling out more cash for software, hardware, or extra staff. Adding additional workers and purchasing pricey equipment and software is what most machine shop owners believe would solve that problem.


This mindset of planning and operation is incorrect: Companies may decide to recruit extra staff since long delivery times cause them to lose business. Hiring more people does not inevitably lead to more money in the bank. Many companies wind up having to downsize once again, which brings them full circle to the original issue. Reducing your lead time is essential to expanding your machine shop business. Here are the nine lead time reduction strategies to improve your machine shop business.

1. Find Out Your Lead Time

Knowing your existing circumstance or baseline inside and out is the first step in making any change, as attempting to alter what you do not completely comprehend is pointless. To do this, you need to examine your setup time reduction and determine each component's role.


Ultimately, you want the production and delivery of items to be precisely in sync with demand. The next best step is having a pull system where products are only made when requested.

2. Look For Places To Cut Down Time

The first step in reducing lead times was identifying the gap between your present lead time and the length it might or should be to keep up with demand. Now is the time to start looking for places to perform downtime tracking or make changes in the areas mentioned before.


You considered a few potential alternatives or changes while formulating your first measurements and observations. Discover efficient machining commodities transit between stations that may be restructured for better shop efficiency. On the other hand, you may have had an epiphany about improving your training in the machine shop business, leading to more shop efficiency in your employees' jobs. Feel free to make such modifications in your planning and operation if that's the case.

planning and operation

3. Take Untrustworthy Vendors Out of Your Supply Chain

Is it common for particular vendors to consistently send you late goods? You can wind up spending more money by removing them as your supply chain management strategy rather than switching vendors. Even after accounting for the possible transition costs, research out of NC State University found that supplier assessment almost always improves a company's financial performance and workforce capacity planning.

If you switch suppliers to reduce lead time in machine shops in the supply chain, have adequate inventory to get you through the transition. Also, check that your new vendor is ready to ship items immediately.

4. Pick Suppliers Who Are Geographically Near Your Warehouse

In today's worldwide machine shop business market, you may find more sellers than in the past. While searching for the lowest prices on things worldwide, you can see yourself waiting weeks for them to be transported abroad. This adds unnecessary time to your lead time in the supply chain and makes it more challenging to return defective or unneeded items.


Prioritizing vendors adjacent to your warehouse or production site is one of the simplest ways suppliers optimize wait times. Additionally, consider maintaining a more extensive inventory and making larger (but less regular) buys from overseas suppliers if you can't find a local provider to compete on pricing.

5. Bring External Tasks in-House.

Do you manage a portion of your production in-house? Consider enhancing your skills instead of outsourcing product completion to a third party. This usually makes financial sense because of the long-term savings (and the permanent decrease in lead times) that more than justify the substantial initial outlay. Plus, you'll set yourself up for future development, so scaling will be a breeze when your revenues trend higher.

6. Make Your Order Processing Operations Automated

Verify that your internal procedures are also up to standard after you have gathered your raw materials and are prepared to begin manufacturing. Think about:


● The time it takes to enter customer purchase orders into your system.

● The time required to process engineering change orders from start to finish, including all steps in manufacturing and quality assurance).

● How often does internal misunderstanding cause the process to stall?

● How often do orders go completely missing?


A decrease in lead times is probably due to poor performance in any of these areas. Automated order processing procedures allow quicker shipment of completed goods and workforce capacity planning.

lead time reduction strategies

7. Maximizing Your Reduce Lead Time in Machine Shops

Next, you'll be honing the lead time optimization you've made. Although it's not ideal, there are instances when a choice you make initially to shorten the lead time has an unforeseen consequence. Although considering the interdependencies of different production systems is crucial before making any changes, it is only sometimes possible.


Changing something twice is likely to bother workers more than once, yet you may have to do it nevertheless. When this happens, try to talk with your staff and explain what you're doing to fix the problem. Keep your employees in the dark about anything that might affect their ability to help you become more efficient; they are your greatest asset.

8. Notify Your Vendors of Your Anticipated Demand

Your monthly orders may vary if you work in a sector where fluctuations are inherent. Notifying your suppliers of your anticipated increase in demand at the earliest opportunity will allow them to plan for larger-than-normal purchases adequately. Not only will this ensure they can manage a huge order, but it will also help them accomplish it fast.

9. Improve Internal Communication

Processing orders requires everyone to be on high alert. Poor internal collaboration might result in unnecessary delays.


An example that we may utilize is order entry. You can be wasting time that isn't necessary if your process has several phases that need input from different individuals. This becomes more apparent when working with paper, which cannot be traced. Leaving paper-based tasks on someone's desk lengthens the time it takes to complete them and raises the risk of documents becoming misplaced.


Even though addressing poor communication is difficult (and often indicates other, more systemic problems), manufacturers have several choices regarding removing obstacles. Only one choice? A workflow system that notifies users when a project needs their attention and instantly passes papers related to orders from one department or user to another.

Bottom Line

Lead time in the machine shop business can be reduced significantly by considering a few factors. As mentioned above, these lead time reduction strategies include communication, vendor investigations, and others. Another additional precautionary step can be to communicate with the customers. Although this won't exactly shorten your lead time, it will help you keep your clients informed as they await the arrival of their products. Consideration of communication as a major predictor of client loyalty is crucial.

Reduce Lead Time in Machine Shops

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