Your entire plastic part manufacturing process may be seamless. But if you do not set the right lead time and fulfillment parameters, then your seamless manufacturing process will not be fully maximized. The schedules in setting lead time and fulfillment should not only be considered at the exact moment a client is inquiring about a certain product or service. The moment product or part development starts, the lead time required to fulfill a client’s needs should automatically be considered. This is to make sure that the entire chain is seen from all perspectives. This means looking not only at the planning, manufacturing, finishing, packaging and distribution processes, but at possible hindrances along the way as well. Yes, there will always be a few bumps in the road, no matter how perfect your process seems to be. Machinery may break down. Your manpower may drastically decrease. A huge market shift could pull up your costs in a snap. All these could be considered as deterrents in meeting set schedules.

How do you optimize your lead time to make sure every commitment is fulfilled?


Look at every possible problem.

This is not the time to be overly optimistic. Sometimes, pessimism can also help, especially when planning for a plan B. Think about every possible problem that may arise. No matter how foolproof a process looks like, there will always be unique ways that it may run off course. When you look at potential problems openly, you can also plan for contingency plans as early as now and add that consideration to your lead time.  

Add buffer times.

If the production takes 5 days and packaging and distribution takes another 5, do not commit to a 10-day delivery. Always add buffer times that would make it easier for you to meet the schedule should any delays be experienced. If anything, this proves to be quite beneficial as well. If your process turns out perfectly every single time, you will also end up delivering early.  

Be ready for just-in-time needs.

Forecasting would be a great help in this case. Make sure you thoroughly assess your clients’ potential needs. Having products that are readily available would allow you to provide solutions to customers who have immediate needs. Fulfilling these lead times can highlight how efficient you are as a manufacturer. This does not just help you maintain current clientele, but allows you to grow your client list as well.