What Is a Bottleneck in Manufacturing and How Do You Resolve It?

What Is a Bottleneck in Manufacturing and How Do You Resolve It

It’s happened to all of us: one project is delayed and throws the rest of our work schedule off balance. Whether we’re waiting on feedback, struggling to make an outdated system work, or juggling reviews and approvals, most project delays are caused by one phenomenon: the bottleneck.

Like how the neck of an actual bottle slows down the flow of liquid, a bottleneck in manufacturing constricts the workflow of a project and slows it down. A bottleneck in a physical manufacturing process is a bit trickier to spot and resolve. 

However, identifying and eliminating bottlenecks is possible as it is essential. This blog post will look at what exactly a bottleneck is and some steps you can take to resolve it.


What is a Bottleneck in Manufacturing?

In manufacturing, a bottleneck, otherwise known as manufacturing constraints, is a work stage with a lower capacity than the demand. In other words, it’s a process in your manufacturing line that is slowing down your production. 

Bottlenecking is a concept that equally applies to logistics and management. It can potentially restrict the flow of information, work instructions, and guidance. 

Bottlenecks can cause major hindrances to work productivity. It delays the production process across the entire line, which, in turn, causes late shipments and frustrated customers.


Short-term Vs. Long-term Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks in manufacturing have two types: the short-term and the long-term.

Short-term manufacturing bottlenecks often cause temporary or unexpected problems. For instance, if a piece of machinery breaks down and needs to be repaired, that’s a short-term bottleneck. Other causes of short-term bottlenecks include:

  • An operator absence
  • A delay in receiving materials from another vendor
  • A machine that needs to be retooled for a new product
  • A sudden or unplanned power outage.


In contrast, long-term bottlenecks are usually caused by persistent or recurring problems that can’t be easily fixed. It can have substantial impacts on the overall manufacturing processes. Some examples include the following:

  • Delayed production time due to paper-based audit processes and work instructions.
  • Lack of traceability due to disorganization of material tracking systems.
  • No standardization of processes which leads to inconsistency and rework.
  • No real-time data is available to determine patterns in production.


Since short-term bottlenecks are isolated incidents, they are often easier to solve. They don’t need regular attention or remedies. On the other hand, long-term bottlenecks are more complex and require strategic solutions.


What is the Bottleneck Analysis?

The bottleneck analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing manufacturing bottlenecks to find solutions that can help alleviate or remove them. It’s similar to a root cause analysis but focuses on manufacturing processes.

The primary goal of bottleneck analysis is to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process by reducing or eliminating constraints. This can be done by either increasing the capacity of the bottlenecked work stage or by removing the bottleneck entirely.

The goals of the bottleneck analysis are as follows:

  • Identify key bottlenecks disrupting the manufacturing process.
  • Collect relevant and quantitative data for bottleneck analysis.
  • Quantify the effect of the bottleneck on production.
  • Determine the root cause of the bottleneck.
  • Explore possible solutions to resolve the bottlenecks 
  • Develop, test, and implement an effective plan to resolve the bottleneck.
  • Mitigate poor-quality products, increase worker efficiency, and reduce downtime.
  • Increase the overall production capacity and shorten overall lead time.
  • Monitor and improve the manufacturing process after resolving the bottleneck.


As you can see, the bottleneck analysis is a comprehensive and detailed process. To properly conduct a bottleneck analysis, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the manufacturing process as well as the goals of the analysis.


How to Identify Bottlenecks in Manufacturing?

There are a few different ways to identify bottlenecks in manufacturing. However, a bottleneck analysis is the best approach to identifying bottlenecks and finding ways to solve them.

You’ll need to follow three steps to determine the bottleneck, find the best solutions, and monitor its performance.


Step 1: Lay Out Your Processes and Identify Bottlenecks

The best way to identify and prevent bottlenecks is to outline your manufacturing process from start to finish. This will help you see where potential bottlenecks might occur and better understand how the process works.

Once you have a clear picture of the manufacturing process, you can start to identify potential bottlenecks. And when you determine what the bottleneck in your manufacturing process is, you can start studying your manufacturing workflow from different perspectives—whether it’s a Gantt chart, Kanban board, or process map.

The fishbone diagram is another commonly used bottleneck analysis concept. Also known as the Ishikawa (cause and effect ) diagram, the fishbone diagram is the ideal tool for problem-solving and brainstorming.

In manufacturing, the head of the fish represents the problem or bottleneck, and the ribs represent the different categories and associated tasks. By mapping your process in a fishbone diagram, it will be easier for your team to identify the root cause of the bottleneck in your manufacturing process.


Step 2: Implement Solutions

Once you’ve identified the bottleneck in your manufacturing process, it’s time to start brainstorming and implementing solutions. Here are a few examples of solutions that you can implement for different manufacturing bottlenecks:

  • Backlogged work due to an understaffed team: if you’re understaffed and your team is overloaded with backlogged work, you can try to increase the team’s capacity by hiring more staff or cross-training your current employees.
  • A machine that’s consistently breaking down and causing production delays: if a machine is a bottleneck in your manufacturing process, you can try to improve its performance by conducting regular maintenance, upgrading the machine, or investing in a new one.
  • A process that’s too slow and inefficient: if your manufacturing process is the bottleneck, you can try to improve it by streamlining the process, automating tasks, or investing in new technology.
  • Outdated manufacturing software causes issues:  if your manufacturing software is the bottleneck, you can try to improve it by upgrading to a newer version, investing in new software, or training your team on how to use the software more efficiently.
  • Micromanagement is slowing down the process: team leaders that keep a tight leash on their team and micromanage every task can often be the bottleneck in a manufacturing process. The solution here is to trust your team and delegate more responsibility.


Step 3: Evaluate the Performance

Once you’ve implemented your solutions, it’s important to monitor your bottleneck’s performance to ensure that the solutions are working effectively.

There are important metrics that you should keep an eye on:

  • Overall production time: this metric will tell you how long it takes to complete the manufacturing process from start to finish.
  • Cycle time: this metric measures the time it takes to complete one manufacturing process cycle.
  • Lead time: this metric measures the time it takes to complete a task from start to finish.
  • First pass yield: this metric measures the percentage of products completed correctly on the first try.
  • Throughput: This metric measures the number of products that can be produced in a given period.


If you see improvements in these metrics after implementing your solutions, you know you’re on the right track. If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and try a different approach.


Create a Bottleneck Analysis with DATAMYTE

To resolve a bottleneck, the best approach is to create a visual analysis of the possible solutions. With DATAMYTE and its Digital Clipboard, you can create a Bottleneck Analysis to help you quickly identify and resolve bottlenecks in your manufacturing process.

The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a workflow automation software that allows you to create workflows, forms, checklists, and reports. With it, you can quickly collect data from your team and generate bottleneck analysis that can help you improve your manufacturing process.

Book a demo today to learn more about how DATAMYTE can help you resolve bottlenecks in your manufacturing process!



Spotting and resolving bottlenecks in your manufacturing process is essential for keeping your business running smoothly. By following the steps in this guide, you can identify bottlenecks, implement solutions, and evaluate the performance of your manufacturing process to ensure that your business is running at peak efficiency.



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