In manufacturing, there’s a lot of moving parts (literally).And in a manufacturing role, there’s a lot to manage - your customers and their own complex supply chains, making sure your machines stay running, and tons of specifications.That’s why we created a step-by-step guide for creating manufacturing specs.
What’s a Manufacturing Specification?
First things first, what does a manufacturing spec entail? Manufacturing specs are basically all of the information you need to make something - and with a capital expenditure this big, there’s a lot at stake if you don’t get it right.Think about your typical manufacturing workflow. What specifications does that include? Likely materials, machinery, quality control and conformance standards, production steps, and product/package designs.All of that information is captured and linked to a finished good to create a manufacturing spec.
What's the Difference Between a Manufacturing Spec and a Product Spec?
Manufacturing specs include a lot of information about products, so where do you draw the line between the two?
Manufacturing specs include product specs, but don't necessarily capture the finished good in its entirety. For example, if the manufacturer isn’t responsible for producing the labeling, that information wouldn’t be a part of that manufacturing spec.On the other hand, product specifications include all information surrounding a finished product (not all of which is directly relevant to the manufacturing process, differentiating the two). However, these specs exist symbiotically, meaning you need information from one to complete the other. Best practice is to link this information together digitally, so you avoid having to constantly sift through data and can rest assured you have all the information you need to do your job.
1. Understand Your Manufacturing Capabilities
Before creating manufacturing specs, it’s important to know your factory’s capabilities; i.e. what you can and can’t produce.For smaller scale factories, this knowledge might be readily available by taking a walk around the plant floor. But for most manufacturing plants, it’s hard to know off-hand exactly what tooling you have available or what your maintenance schedules are.
This is where a smart factory comes in handy. A smart factory is a digital replica of your plant and machinery. It includes detailed specifications for machines, parts, lines, sub-assemblies and more. The good news? Due to limitations in production capabilities, manufacturers are often able to clone and reuse foundational specs for new products. This means spending less time entering data and more time making amazing things.By digitizing all of this information, you have everything you need to know about your plant at your fingertips, enabling you to make faster, more informed decisions, and not to mention, accelerate manufacturing spec creation.
2. Create Your Project Workflow
The next step in creating manufacturing specifications is to build out your project workflow. Start by mapping out all of the steps in the manufacturing process. If you already have a smart factory created, you can easily plug and play product specifications with associated machinery specifications. This will help you gain a high level understanding of what exactly will go into your manufacturing specs.
3. Spec Out the Manufacturing Process
Once you’ve got a basic template for your manufacturing process, you can start filling it in with manufacturing specs.Each step of the process will become a manufacturing spec. For example, MPs-00047 (below) includes detailed specs on how to perform that step. The spec is then linked to a manufacturing process and that process is linked to the finished good.Manufacturing steps are the perfect opportunity to link machine and plant information. If it’s already digitized via a smart factory, this linkage is as easy as the click of a button.Pro Tip: Manufacturing specs also enable high-level process monitoring. These specs can be used to paint a more complete picture of production, linking to data like:
- Work Orders/Customer Information
- WIP (work in process)
- Quality Control and Conformance
- Product Development
- and Inventory
Your Solution to Creating and Managing Manufacturing Specs
At a time when many consumers and end-users are demanding greater transparency and traceability, such as ingredient quality or sourcing information, specification management is an invaluable tool for manufacturers. Specright’s Specification Data Management™ software is helping to lead the charge by managing the complexities of manufacturing at the spec level. From a supply chain management perspective, Specright allows manufacturers to trace a digital thread of data throughout the supply chain to see where products are being sourced, where delays or bottlenecks are occurring, and other valuable information that can inform their operations.
To learn more about Specification Data Management, download our ebook or reach out to a member of our team.