Guide To Operational Bottleneck in Manufacturing: What is It and How Does it Affect Productivity?

Guide To Operational Bottleneck in Manufacturing

In any manufacturing process, there will always be a bottleneck. This is simply the name given to the work stage that cannot meet the production quota even at its maximum throughput capacity. While this may not seem like a big deal, the impact of bottlenecks can be disastrous for productivity as it can delay or stop the entire flow of operations. 

To lessen the effects of operational bottlenecks, it’s important to know what it is and what it’s all about. This guide will explore operational bottlenecking, how it affects operations, and what you can do to mitigate the damage.


What is a Bottleneck?

A bottleneck in manufacturing, also known as a “constraint,” is a stage in the work process that’s unable to meet the production quota despite being at maximum capacity. This often happens because raw materials, machines, or manpower are lacking. 

The term bottleneck comes from the physical bottle. Just like how the neck of a bottle limits the flow of water and causes a backup, a bottleneck in manufacturing prevents work from flowing smoothly and causes a build-up of unfinished work. 


How Does it Affect Productivity?

Since a bottleneck prevents work from moving forward, it can have a ripple effect on productivity and cause delays in the production process. This not only impacts the stage where the bottleneck is happening, but it can also cause delays in other work stages that are downstream. 

For example, let’s say the bottleneck is happening in the packaging stage. This means the finished products cannot be shipped until the issue is resolved. But since the packaging is downstream of the production stage, this also means that the production stage will eventually be impacted. Work will start to pile up, and the entire operation will be thrown off schedule. 

Sometimes, the bottleneck can be so severe that it completely stops production. This can happen when there is a sudden power outage or a machine breakdown. When this happens, it can cause massive delays and disruptions to the manufacturing process.


Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Bottlenecks

There are two variants of bottlenecks: short-term and long-term bottlenecks. Both impact the manufacturing process, but they do so in different ways. 


Short-Term Bottlenecks

Short-term bottlenecks are usually caused by temporary problems that can be fixed relatively quickly. For example, a machine might break down, or there could be a shortage of raw materials. These bottlenecks can often be resolved within a few days or weeks. 


Long-Term Bottlenecks

Long-term bottlenecks, on the other hand, are usually caused by more permanent problems that take longer to fix. For example, a company might not have enough machines to keep up with demand, or there could be a shortage of skilled workers. These types of bottlenecks can often take months or even years to resolve. 


The Impact of Bottlenecks on Businesses

The impact of bottlenecks can be significant. They can cause delays in the production process, which can lead to lost sales and revenue. In some cases, they can even cause a complete shutdown of the manufacturing process, which can be extremely costly for businesses. 

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of bottlenecks and take steps to avoid them. By understanding what they are and how they work, you can take steps to mitigate the impact of bottlenecks on your business.


What is Bottleneck Analysis?

Bottleneck analysis is the process of identifying, analyzing, and solving bottlenecks in manufacturing. This method is used to improve productivity and efficiency in manufacturing operations. Through careful analysis, businesses can identify the root cause of bottlenecks and take steps to resolve them. 


Goals of Bottleneck Analysis

Different bottleneck analysis methods have different goals. But in general, the goal of bottleneck analysis is the following:

  • To improve productivity and efficiency by eliminating bottlenecks in manufacturing.
  • Identify the key bottlenecks in managerial and production processes.
  • Collect relevant and quantitative data for proper bottleneck analysis.
  • Explore possible solutions to address the bottlenecks.
  • Minimize poor-quality products while increasing worker efficiency and reducing downtime.
  • Increase the overall production capacity, all while shortening production lead time.


What To Look for in a Bottleneck Analysis

In most cases, the machine or process with the longest queue will be the bottleneck. To identify whether a potential step is the root barrier to the overall workflow, look for the following potential red flags in the production process to make accurate and educated assessments:


Throughput and Throughput Time

By increasing the throughput of each machine one at a time, you will be able to determine which has the greatest effect on the overall production output. At the same time, you can measure and calculate the throughput time to determine how long it takes for a product to move through the manufacturing process from start to finish.


Process Capacity

You can calculate the processing capacity by taking the number of products produced per hour and dividing it by the maximum number of products that could be produced per hour. This will give you a good idea of how close to full capacity each process is running.



An accumulation will trigger whenever the input is greater than what a machine can handle. During this process, inventory and work hours can potentially accumulate since the work order cannot process at the same rate as the other steps in the manufacturing process. As a result, this will lengthen the manufacturing process and cause disruptions.


Slow Communication

Any time there is a disconnect or miscommunication between two departments, it can cause a bottleneck. This happens when one department is waiting on another to complete its tasks before it can move forward.

For example, if the engineering department is waiting on the marketing department to sign off on a design before they can begin production, this can cause a bottleneck.

This is why it’s important for all departments to be on the same page and communicate regularly to avoid any delays in the production process.


Best Bottleneck Analysis Tools

Bottleneck analysis comes with a variety of different methods and tools. Here are a few of the most popular methods used for bottleneck analysis:


Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are one of the most popular tools used for bottleneck analysis. They provide a clear visual representation of the manufacturing process and can help identify potential bottlenecks.


Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is another popular tool used for bottleneck analysis. This method involves creating a map of the manufacturing process to identify potential areas of improvement. In addition, value stream mapping can help businesses find ways to reduce waste and improve efficiency.


Fishbone Diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are commonly used in manufacturing to identify potential causes of bottlenecks. This diagram is also known as a cause and effect diagram or an Ishikawa diagram.

The fishbone diagram is used to brainstorm potential causes of a problem. Once the potential causes are identified, businesses can work to find solutions to address the root cause of the bottleneck.


The 5 Whys

The Five Whys is a simple yet effective tool that can be used to identify the root cause of a problem. This method involves asking why five times to get to the bottom of a problem.

For example, if a machine is down and you’re trying to identify the root cause, you would ask why the machine is down. Once you have the answer to that question, you would then ask why that is happening.



If you want to spot and resolve operational bottlenecks in your manufacturing process, creating a workflow that features your chosen bottleneck analysis and solution is the best way to do so. One way to visualize the ideal workflow for your bottleneck needs is by using DATAMYTE and its ever-reliable Digital Clipboard.

The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a workflow automation software capable of creating comprehensive workflows for your bottleneck analysis and resolution. With this software, you can create the ideal workflow to resolve any bottleneck your manufacturing process is experiencing and mitigate its effects.

You’ll be able to create workflows quickly and easily using a drag-and-drop interface. You can also customize your workflows to match the specific needs of your manufacturing process. And with DATAMYTE’s real-time data collection and analysis, you’ll be able to spot potential bottlenecks before they happen.

Get started with the DataMyte Digital Clipboard today by booking a demo with us! We’ll show you how easy it is to create workflows that will resolve your manufacturing bottlenecks and improve your productivity.



Bottlenecks in manufacturing can be a major problem that can cause delays in the production process. However, using the right tools and methods can quickly and efficiently identify and resolve bottlenecks quickly and efficiently. Use the information you learned in this article to guide your bottleneck analysis and resolution. 

And if you need help, don’t hesitate to try DATAMYTE! Our software solution can help you create the ideal workflow for your manufacturing process. 



Related Articles: