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How to Find (and Eradicate) Bottlenecks in Manufacturing

Are production bottlenecks creating cashflow problems and eroding your reputation?

Are you tired of seeing your assembly line come to a screeching halt? Have you struggled to meet client demands because of frustrating stock shortages or slowdowns in your operations?

If you’re a manufacturer, these bottlenecks can cause significant headaches, affecting your customer satisfaction and bottom line. Fortunately, you can take various measures to identify and stamp out bottlenecks in manufacturing for good.

Below, we guide you through the best way to find bottlenecks in manufacturing processes. We also tell you how to manage them and why you should use manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software as part of your process. 

What Are Bottlenecks in Manufacturing?

A bottleneck is any point in the production process that slows down or stops progress and prevents material from moving through the chain efficiently. The bottleneck interrupts the production flow, resulting in a slower overall production rate and a decrease in the overall efficiency of your manufacturing process.

Manufacturing bottlenecks can occur at any point in the production process, slowing down the entire operation. Here are some common examples:

  • Outdated machinery: If machines are slow, unreliable, or break down frequently, they can create a bottleneck that hinders production.
  • Insufficient machine capacity: If you simply don’t have enough machines to meet demand, you’ll inevitably run into a bottleneck.
  • Raw material shortages: If you don’t have the necessary raw materials on hand, production will stop. This can be caused by supplier issues, poor inventory management, or unexpected spikes in demand.
  • Quality control problems: If materials don’t meet quality standards, they may need to be reworked or scrapped, causing delays.
  • Poorly designed workflows: Inefficient production processes with unnecessary steps or backtracking can slow things down.

How to Identify Bottlenecks in Manufacturing

Determining the source of your bottleneck requires careful observation and analysis. Follow these tips to learn how to identify bottlenecks in manufacturing:

Ask the Staff

Your team has intimate knowledge of their processes, so they are the best people to ask when trying to identify and solve a bottleneck. Ask them which parts of the process take longer than usual or what problems have arisen in the past that have caused delays.

Analyse Queue Length

By examining the queue length (the number of work-in-progress items) in your production process, you can identify areas holding up progress. Does a specific part of the process have too many work-in-progress items queued up? That could indicate a bottleneck in the given area.

Consider the Utilisation Rate

In production, the workstation with the highest utilisation rate is likely to be the bottleneck. Too much work is concentrated in one area, slowing overall production. Observing this rate will help you identify which processes are taking up too much time and resources and causing a slowdown in your production line.

Analyse Process Flow and Wait Time

Analyse how long it takes for a product to move from one stage of the process to another. If you identify a process that takes significantly longer than usual, it indicates a bottleneck in that area.

How to Eliminate Bottlenecks in Manufacturing

The approach you use to eradicate your manufacturing bottlenecks will depend on the type of bottleneck you need to address. For instance, if machine breakdowns are an issue, you can invest in more reliable machinery and schedule regular maintenance checks.

Other measures that can help include the following:

Redesigning the Flow

Analyse your existing processes and look for ways to optimise, such as reorganising equipment, reducing paperwork, changing the order of operations, or introducing parallel paths.

Improving Communication

You should ensure that everyone involved in the production process is updated about everything. You can also set up a real-time communication system to improve collaboration and increase efficiency during manufacturing.

Investing in MRP Software

Manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software allows you to monitor production, manage inventory levels, and control costs precisely. You can also use MRP to schedule production, track labour costs, and optimise delivery times. This can help you identify system-wide bottlenecks more quickly and take the necessary steps to address them.

Leverage MRP Software to Eradicate Manufacturing Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks in manufacturing can cause productivity issues and lead to delays, lost profits, customer dissatisfaction, and more. Fortunately, a business process mapping service, such as the one Flowlens offers, can help you locate potential problems and proactively eradicate them.

Flowlens offers an all-in-one MRP software designed for SME manufacturers. It offers numerous features that can help you simplify business operations, including the following:

  • Multi-level BOM & Stock Management
  • Multiple Suppliers per Part
  • Commercial & Proforma Invoices
  • 5 Star Implementation & Support

If you need help with production planning, want to avoid shortages, improve cash flow, handle after-sales more effectively, and access instant reports, Flowlens is an excellent tool to add to your arsenal. Its user-friendly interface makes it perfect for a wide range of SME manufacturers and allows it to fit seamlessly into your existing workflows.  


Are you ready to combat bottlenecks in manufacturing and help your business run more smoothly? If so, follow the tips shared above and give Flowlens a try.

Flowlens will give you better control of your stock, customers, and suppliers, helping you eliminate problems that can affect your lead time and sales. Start your free MRP system trial today.