Manufacturing 101: The Manufacturing Workflow

An introduction to the manufacturing workflow and how products are made by industrial companies

In my last few posts, I have explained what industrial automation is, how the automation systems that power industrial automation are built, and provided an easy way to understand the components that makeup automation systems.

Now that we understand industrial automation and automation systems, we can turn our attention to the way that goods and products are manufactured. In my next few posts, I will explain how companies use a combination of industrial automation and manual labour to manufacture products.

In this mini-series, I will walk you through the manufacturing workflow for a typical manufacturing company. With practical examples, we will learn how a company manufactures a product from receiving raw materials all the way through shipping the finished product out the door.

The idea of this series is to give you a holistic view of the manufacturing process that many people working in the industry don’t have.

By the end of the series, you will be able to describe the steps involved in a typical manufacturing process and recognize some of the machinery used in manufacturing. Basically, you will have a good understanding of industrial manufacturing and the processes involved in making a product.

Now that we know what we will learn in the series, let’s meet the company that we will be following while we learn about the manufacturing process.

Paper Joiners Ltd

Paper Joiners Ltd is a company that manufactures and sells staplers, a “simple” product that everyone reading this should be familiar with.

What do you think is involved in manufacturing staplers?

It turns out that even simple products can be complex to manufacture.

A stapler for example is made up of 21 unique parts. Some of these parts are manufactured by Paper Joiners Ltd and the rest are bought from suppliers.

Regardless of the origin of the parts, all of the parts have to be assembled into the final product and each stapler has to be packed and shipped to Paper Joiner Ltd’s customers around the globe.

So how does a typical company manufacture a product like a stapler?

Manufacturing Workflow Overview

A manufacturing company is made up of different departments that have different responsibilities. These departments are filled with people and equipment that work together to produce finished products for their customers.

In this section, we will talk about the manufacturing workflow used by Paper Joiners Ltd to manufacture staplers. Even though we are talking about a specific company, all manufacturing companies follow a similar workflow so this information applies to most companies building consumer goods.

Also, keep in mind that this is an example of a typical manufacturing workflow. I have never worked in a stapler factory so some details might be a little bit off!

Let’s start at the beginning of the workflow: the receiving area.

The Receiving Area

At the Receiving Area, trucks deliver raw materials and purchased components to Paper Joiners Ltd.

The Manufacturing Area

Raw materials are transported from receiving to the manufacturing area.

In this area, machines are used to process the raw materials and turn them into components that are used to assemble a stapler.

The Assembly Area

Purchased and manufactured components are transported to the assembly area.

In this area, the components are combined to create the finished product. Depending on the process, the assembly process can be a highly manual or highly automated process.

The Packaging Area

Assembled staplers are sent to the packaging area.

In this area, staplers are packed into boxes, boxes are packed into cases, and cases are placed on pallets.

These pallets are then shrink-wrapped for easy transportation.

The Warehouse Area

Pallets of completed and packed products are transported to a warehouse. They are stored in the warehouse until they are delivered to Paper Joiner Ltd’s customers around the world.

Wrap Up

In this post, I introduced you to my manufacturing 101 series.

I explained that this series will show you how a company manufactures products by explaining the manufacturing process from start to finish. We will do this by looking at how an example company, Paper Joiners Ltd, manufactures a product from start to finish.

After introducing you to Paper Joiners Ltd, I gave an overview of a typical manufacturing workflow.

In the rest of this series, I will explain each part of the manufacturing workflow in more detail. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to the mailing list below to be notified when the next part is published.

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