Manufacturing Bottlenecks vs. Constraints

When talking about problems in the supply chain, manufacturing bottlenecks and constraints are often used interchangeably to indicate problems with in the manufacturing process. However, these two terms indicate very different issues and need to be addressed in different ways.

Manufacturing constraints

Manufacturing Bottlenecks

A bottleneck in manufacturing occurs when a sudden increase in production causes a necessary resource, such as a machine or personnel, to be overloaded. This leads to a wide variety of problems across the manufacturing process, including a drop in quality, more mistakes, and damage to machines. While this can be problematic, it does not indicate a fundamental problem within the supply chain. In addition, these can usually be fixed by resolving a single point of failure. Whether this is hiring more people or buying better machinery, a bottleneck can be resolved without too much hassle.


Manufacturing Constraints

A constraint in the manufacturing process is when there is a long-term, difficult to resolve, problem that often presents itself in a variety of ways. An example of a constraint is when production is unable to keep up with demand, even though machinery is working at maximum capacity, or when a chemical process needs to be done and has to take a certain amount of time to complete. These are examples of problems that cannot be easily resolved, meaning they need to be optimized as best as possible. They also present a continued problem to the supply chain and result in delays.