Manufacture is such a complicated process; it’s even more challenging in massive production. As only one step has something wrong, it will impact the whole manufacturing flow.
We want to introduce you to the pilot run – a testing process to ensure your entire production is on the right track and in control. You should write down five primary considerations when running the pilot run that we’ll discuss in the following article.
What is a pilot run?
The pilot run is a testing process to ensure your entire production is on the right track and in control
A pilot run is the test production run that is implemented at the beginning of production to identify issues in how the product is assembled and the layout of the production line.
It simply means launching a small amount of production run (a few tens or hundreds of pieces) to be made in precisely the same conditions as mass production: resources, materials, machinery, types of equipment, fixtures, operations and process controls.
As part of the pilot run, the producer should observe the run rate and the defect rate and notice any issues. Also, they should work on improvements – often in processes, in training, or incoming component quality.
If something does not work as plan, the worst circumstance is that the sample pieces made have to be disposed of or remade.
Why is a pilot run necessary for mass production?
The pilot run helps with finding hidden issues in manufacturing
Mass production takes numerous income sources, time, the effort of many people. If something wrong happens during running manufacturing, that can make the whole process delay or disturb regularly. In the worst case, the entire run has to be canceled, or the final product can not be used because it can harm the consumer.
The following phase provides valuable roles in running a pilot that will let you know why the pilot run is so much important.
1) Planning a production line to set up an order sequence, where components are fed into the process and test stations are, is critical to getting the production flow right. There is no need for products to be run down the line, but the line arrangement can be used to see if it is set up correctly.
2) Training the people before they start working on mass production. An important aspect is to create clear and concise work instructions for staff to do their jobs. It is also critical practice to train more staff for any process, particularly on some vital workstations.
3) Ensure the staff knows what they are supposed to do is another benefit of pilot runs. Every single person involved with making the product should know what to do and how to do it. Watching them do it consistently is the best way of ensuring they are on the right track.
4) Test areas and equipment readiness can be established once the product is set up on the production line. It will appear if a piece of equipment is in the wrong place or is the wrong type or size; for instance, a bearing press is not strong enough to press in bearings.
The factory needs to make sure all the test equipment and relevant test stations function as they should. Also, they need to analyze those fail products because they do not get pushed down the production flow to the next workstation!
5) Testing the processes at “run at a rate” to ensure that you can make the product at the rate you want. The essential purpose of this action is to verify the production line’s output at full speed – from pulling materials to packing the products ready for delivery.
If the process can only make 20 products each hour, you can make the projections… It can take about 100 days for this one line to produce 10,000 pieces of order if no improvement is made!
6) Stress the processes, the testing, and the people making the product to see if what you have built is correct. If your timelines mean the line should make 60 pieces/hour, challenge the factory to reach at least 50 in the pilot run.
7) Identifying failure modes and unexpected production issues is at the heart of the pilot run. In mass production, the apparent problems are usually detected, whereas subtler issues (which might also have serious consequences) are often missed… or ignored by production operators.
Typically, many problems are identified during the pilot run. It is common to reveal these problems to determine what needs to be fixed first.
8) Control measures detailed in your plan (if the manufacturer has prepared one) or conclusions to FMEA analyses should be monitored and verified. Unfortunately, many factories have not performed those types of exercises. Again, they let problems come up rather than doing the hard work up front.
9) Final step before production. This phase is the last opportunity to make changes to the lines, processes or the design if design failures have been found. Remember that it cost less to correct problems at this step than in mass production.
5 points to consider while making the pilot run
There are some critical notations that you should take a look at when running a pilot program
1. Identify the scope.
Set a list of the features, functions, and services you want to include and how you expect them to perform in the actual manufacturing environment. Identify all applications and tools that will interface with the proposed solution and test as many circumstances as possible. Include an alternative plan if a testing scenario fails, and describe how you expect to proceed after the pilot run is complete.
2. Develop objectives.
Create a list of objectives to identify the criteria for measuring a pilot’s success. Here are some example objectives that you should notice:
- Make sure the design meets the business requirements
- Certify that the system works correctly in the business environment
- Test the deployment procedure
- Find information for estimating hardware and supportability requirements
- Confirm that the system adds necessary values to learning
3. Choose your testing group
When you’re testing out new technology, you need a big enough group to get sufficient feedback and conduct the test efficiently.
One group within an organization or a small project will be a good starting point, ideally including between 10-20 people. Whoever is selected for the team also needs to be people who will interact with the new technology regularly.
The pilot run team will be essential if you decide to expand the application of the technology or machine at your organization. They will become a resource and will assist with training new employees when they start using the technology.
4. Develop a plan for on-boarding
The onboarding strategy you put together when you begin running the pilot process can be used when the technology works for the rest of the organization, so don’t skip this step.
Provide training and resources programs throughout the run to help participants get used to using it. If you want to set them up for success, these additional programs will work to your benefit after the pilot as well. Since people will find comfortable with the technology using and understand its value or function.
Nothing kills a new technology faster than poor user adoption. If you carry on a successful pilot program, your adoption rates afterward are more likely to be positive.
5. Get feedback
The pilot run program is a chance for trial and error testing to determine what worked and what didn’t. Especially if you’re planning to launch the new technology on a large scale, you need to troubleshoot issues that appear during the pilot program.
The feedback from your engineers will be important in helping to evaluate the capability of the manufacture. Based on that evaluation, you will find the new technology will move forward, or you need to find another option.
Allow participants to speak up feedback throughout the testing process and through group discussions or self-evaluations.
Evaluating this data, along with measuring how well you’ve reached the objectives, will provide the necessary information you need.
The results from the pilot run program are the authorization to go into mass production. And a lower chance of finding severe issues that will cause lengthy delays and poor quality products. Maybe, it could harm the consumer’s health seriously.
Hopefully, you can understand the importance of conducting a pilot run on every new product. To find out more practical information about the beverage industry or the manufacturing industry, check out our discussion here!
Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.