First, a clarification
Of course, measures to optimize an existing production process are carried out according to the approved pattern of projects, thus as defining, planning and execution. However, optimization projects have a much longer definition phase, which is characterized by an specific analysis of the existing facilities, and plants.
Existing production facilities are performing at their limits very often, but the limitations are caused by identifiable "bottlenecks". The elimination of these bottlenecks could provide a higher production level in the entire plant.
Caution please - by eliminating an identified bottleneck the expected increase in the production capacity can again be retarded by another bottleneck, which is located in a completely different part of the plant.
It is therefore important to know ALL bottlenecks in ALL parts of the process!
The identification of all bottlenecks usually starts at the beginning of each optimization - we need a "Bottleneck Map" that defines all process steps with their respective, individual capacity limits. It should be noted that in case of producing several types of products, each product group, should have its own Bottleneck Map. For example, a production of low purity requirement products can be accelerated by optimizing one or more purification process steps, which are upstream or downstream. Products of high purity requirements are possibly still limited by the purification process steps.
One have to know where the individual bottlenecks lie!
Knowing this, one can start defining the debottlenecking activities. In most cases this will lead to small or medium-sized projects to increase the capacity of the bottleneck, identified as relevant.
Optimization can also be achieved in other ways. For this purpose it is appropriate to improve the process control system, or the process control software, for example. The procedure can run more fluently through all process steps then, which can eliminate unproductive waiting times. A good process control system is only as good as the used software - and there is room for improvement very often.
Of course, there are even more methods to optimize an existing production facility. As a practitioner you know that very well.
But here, however, I can help and support you. For example to define the Bottleneck Map and to find out some appropriate measures, together with your experts from the production lines, because these professionals have the knowledge! In many cases it helps to talk with the people working on site, to find out where the "jams" are.
Caution please - optimization is not a magic formula, because there are some pitfalls, for example unreliability, when the process flow is limited by a particular process step. By using debottlenecking the losses by outages due to unplanned shutdowns could not be eliminated necessarily. For example, if a transfer line often cloggs, it is no help to improve only the upstream or downstream process section.
The devil is in the details !!