Routing manufacturing: mapping your production

Routing manufacturing maps the journey of your products throughout the manufacturing process. Discover the importance of routing manufacturing.

Glasses manufacturer machinery on shop floor as apart of their routing manufacturing.
Last updated: 13.04.2022

Routing Manufacturing allows you to set up production plans and workflows for your customizable products. If done correctly you’ll know at what stage your item is at and which machine, tool, or work center it needs to travel to next.

Imagine you’re a bus station manager.

You have 20 buses, each of which visits 5 out of the 100 bus stops in the city.

However, the routes haven’t been established and the buses aren’t numbered.

It’s going to be impossible to avoid delays as you’ll be struggling with the logistics of getting the buses to their correct stops in the correct order.

This is similar to if you’re a modern manufacturer who makes customized goods (bear with us).

Your products and the orders will require different processes. Without routing manufacturing, it’s going to be difficult to move your product to the next process.

You’re probably wondering, “What is routing manufacturing and how do I do it?”

We’re going to look into routing and how you implement it to achieve a smooth, uninterrupted, movement for your products as you manufacture them.

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What is routing manufacturing

Routing manufacturing sometimes referred to as production routings, is the route to be followed during each step of the manufacturing process when transforming components and raw materials into a final product.

Routings show the production flow that needs to be achieved. This can be done in one or more facilities or sent to an external vendor for specialized tasks.

task being an action that is performed to make the product. For example, the steps could go in an order such as:

  • Cutting material
  • Painting
  • Assembly
  • Packaging

Routing details the steps needed to take and, in the order, they need to be completed to create your product.

Along with this, the routing highlights the materials and equipment/workstations that will be used in the manufacturing of an item, all derived from a product’s bill of materials.

For a simpler explanation:

Routing = lists of tasks needed for a manufacturing process that is used in making a product.

The same routing can be used for more than one product if it has a similar process. Also, a product may go through one process more than once before moving onto the next stage. If this is the case, the number of cycles will need to be specified in routing manufacturing.

So, your routing will determine which path and the sequence of operations to be completed on a product as it passes from one work center to another.

But, what’s the purpose?

The aim of routing manufacturing is to establish the optimum sequence of operations at the lowest cost and complete it in the quickest amount of time (of course, whilst also maintaining the highest level of quality).

Routing is an important base for organizing your business as it defines the method of manufacturing.

When figuring out your routings, consider:

  • The tasks that need to be carried out to manufacture an item
  • The work centers (where production activities are performed) in which these tasks are carried out
  • The sequence in which a product passes through the processes

Once you’ve completed this you’ll have your routing document which is applied to each product you manufacture. This lists all production operations and processes, in chronological order, that take place to complete the final product.

Primarily, routing manufacturing will provide grounds for scheduling and measuring the capacity of production resources.

Routing in production planning and control

Glasses manufacturer checking raw material inventory on their manufacturing route.

Production routing means as soon as a manufacturing order is generated, you and your employees will know immediately what tasks need to be carried out at what work centers, significantly cutting down your manufacturing lead times.

This will vary depending on what type of manufacturing business you operate. For larger companies that use repetitive manufacturing, the products are standardized, so no managerial effort is really needed since the products go through one movement.

However, for us quaint, proud, and scaling manufacturers, we’ll need to establish routes as our highly customized items will be whizzing all around the shop floor.

Routing a production order requires:

  • The information on the product being manufactured
  • Details of each relevant operation
  • The set-up time
  • The standard time is needed for finishing the production

The routing procedure consists of six points:

1) Make and buy decision

You’ll need to decide which parts and components are to be made by yourself or bought in. You decide this by price comparison, availability of resources, if you have the appropriate tools, and whether the materials and machines are available.

2) Bill of materials

The materials required for production are determined by your bill of materials. Using a BOM means you can procure the relevant material and components before production starts.

3) Preparation of route sheet

This is where you’ll need to look at operations and pair them with a sequence to manufacture the product. This establishes the operations needed for the processing of a product, listing them in their sequence on the route or operations sheet.

4) Lot size determination

This is where you determine the capacity that can be produced at one location. However, “If the product is to be produced to fulfill the consumer requirements, the question to determine the lot size does not arise.” This is mainly a concern for businesses that use a continuous or repetitive manufacturing workflow.

5) The scrap factor

You’ll need to estimate the amount of scrap which will be produced along the manufacturing process. “As we know that all the components produced at various workstations do not meet the required standards and those which do not pass inspection are to be neglected as scrap.”

Scrap may be produced at one point during the manufacturing process or progressively. You’ll need to determine these points and take the appropriate action to deal with the buildup called a scrap factor. Normally this is decided from previous experience and you’ll need to direct resources to remove scrap to avoid bogging down machines.

6) Provide necessary information and forms

As you are probably aware, manufacturing and business management can be dully administrative.

Unfortunately, your routing manufacturing is no different. You’ll need to have your manufacturing orders, job tickets, inspection tickets, move orders, tool tickets, and equipment tickets.

However, for businesses with around 2 to 15 employees, a lot of this might not be necessary. Although, it’s a good practice to have your floor-level management to this high standard of the organization to avoid bottlenecks and backlogs.

As you can see, routing in production requires a mental sweat to prepare. But once you have taken the time to do this, you’ll be able to reap the benefits.

Cloud manufacturing software

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Advantages of production routing

  1. Effective utilization of available resources
  2. Reduction in production costs
  3. Quality improvement occurs
  4. The productivity of the system improves
  5. Provides a basis for loading scheduling 

For a production routing example, let’s use a business that manufactures customized wooden glasses. They have their routing manufacturing planned out might look something like this in action:

Task 1
Design – As per the customer’s specifications

Task 2
Preparation of material and cutting – Getting everything ready

Task 3
Shaping – Setting the shape of the glasses into the desired final shape

Task 4
Varnishing (‘X’ number of cycles) – Varnishing the glasses so they keep their shape. This has to be done several times

Task 5
Final product – The final touches are made on the glasses

Task 6
Packaging – The glasses are packaged ready for delivery

Task 7
Shipping – The glasses are shipped off to the customer

Glasses manufacturer front of store display with individual glasses and packages at the end of their production routing.

From the production routing example, you can see that the final stages of manufacturing your products will be packaging and shipment. However, without planning the route beforehand, getting to this stage will be delayed by your items getting lost on the shop floor.

If you’d like to see the sequence and task list in more detail, our investigation into the job shop manufacturing workflow should satisfy you. We’d recommend this to any business manufacture as this will be how your business will operate.

PRO TIP: Routing manufacturing determines how your product gets from A to B on your shop floor, but you still need to calculate manufacturing lead times and figure out a master production schedule. Check out our huge breakdown of what is manufacturing to maximize your business’s performance.

How to use routing manufacturing in Katana

Katana is an ERP manufacturing software specifically developed for scaling manufacturers looking to grow their business.

It helps you do this with features such as:

1. Smart inventory management

Autonomously updates and saves inventory movement in real-time, helping you manage: raw materials, finished goods, and work-in-progress (WIP) tracking.

2. Streamlined floor-level management

Easily manage resources with a nifty drag and drop system to prioritize those important orders.

3. Integrating your e-commerce accounts

Access your e-commerce orders or generate an invoice for your accounting software, all from one platform.

You don’t have to overload yourself with more work by working out your routing manufacturing within Excel or on some other paper-based system.

Routing in production can be made so much simpler by integrating a smart inventory manufacturing ERP system into your business. Production Operations lets you see what tasks need to be performed and you can easily reassign your resources to fulfill these.

Essentially, to translate everything into the language of Katana, this is where you can complete your routing manufacturing within the software. Saving you the hassle of having to draft and maintain different schedules with the cumbersome program that is Excel.

How do you ask? Because Katana, once the relevant fields have been populated, automatically makes these calculations for you, so you can accurately schedule and have the average cost of each product.

Routing in production planning and control with Katana allows you to easily monitor your floor-level staff as you can see what tasks are not started, in progress, or completed.

Best of all, you can use a Google translate extension to help you and your employees use the software if you’re employees are spread across the globe.

Don’t just take our word for it, why not have a try for yourself? Katana offers a 14-day free trial so, you can really take the software out for a test drive and see how it can benefit your business.

Why not sign yourself up and watch the video we made so you can follow along and figure out how to configure your own routing manufacturing.

Katana ERP

Katana Team

Katana gives thousands of manufacturers a live look at their business. Manage all the moving parts of your business and unite the apps and services you use in one visual platform.

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