Author: Paul Henriques in: Business Solutions
As a manufacturer you know that managing your production is the key to your continued success. Managing your production means ensuring that you are producing the right amount of product on any given line in a way that ensures your customer receives their orders on time and error free. Having excellent production management leads to improves performance for your team while minimizing personal and product risks which improves your standing with your customers and leads to more business.
You pride yourself on a well-run manufactory. But even with everything humming along, as it always has, you can see there’s room for improvement and that begs the question:
What can you do to improve your productivity?
In a manufacturer, there are 5 factors that will affect your production management:
Any series of steps taken in sequence can be defined as a process. Even making a sandwich is a process. This means that everything you do at your firm is a process. From the actions taken by your purchaser when submitting orders to the steps taken to package and ship an order.
The goal at a firm should be continuous improvement of your processes. The act of continuously improving a process has been represented in many ways with the most popular being the Kaizen method. This method originated as part of the Toyota Production System and has since been adopted and modified by industries around the world. The Kaizen method involves a simple and common-sense approach to processes:
Because of the nature of manufacturing, you need to constantly look for ways to improve and innovate to stay competitive. When it comes to processes, this means your first move should be to ensure your corporate culture includes the idea of continuous improvement.
Beyond implementing a method that improves processes, here are a few added steps you can take:
When staff know what you want and where their improvements can take them, they will be motivated to do more and will feel more appreciated by being rewarded when they reach it. This, in turn, improves retention and positive word-of-mouth of your value as an employer. All these added bonuses lead to your success.
Manufacturing has an ongoing problem that only recently started making headlines when the service sector was also affected. A lack of new workers. This bypassing of manufacturing as a career has already started to affect the economy with think tanks and organizations around industrialized nations asking their governments to implement some kind of plan.
One of the issues is the negative view of manufacturing jobs along with the difficulty in paying higher wages while competing against manufactories in countries without the same safety, labor, and environmental regulations. The best option for the developed world to maintain productive capacity while competing on price is to improve productivity. This means that your staff need to learn how to do more while not burning them out. To summarize, the negative factors affecting staffing in manufacturing are:
For staff, you need to look at improved working conditions and pay while maximizing staff productivity to keep your overhead low. To help with the problem of less applicants, you should:
You can also add a smart ERP with an HR module that helps you manage your staff skills and training along with a recruitment prospect tracker.
You need your equipment to work. But you also want to be sure it doesn’t break down. Ideally you would like to see an 100% availability KPI on your tools and fixtures, but that is almost impossible. Deloitte has recently estimated that unplanned downtime costs manufacturers from 5 to 20 percent of their overall productive capacity. So, do you run your machines until they break and fix them then? That means the break can happen at the most unexpected (and inopportune) time.
The option is planned downtime. That is, time in which you plan for the machines to be down for maintenance. But you also have to ensure that time doesn’t happen when you most need the machine to be in operation.
Another issue with maintenance is the difficulty in hiring and keeping good technicians. With such high demand and low supply, you need to improve the way your machines are monitored to maximize their productivity with things like shop monitors and trainer operators that know the machine well enough to detect an issue early on.
To improve your maintenance:
Proper planning and scheduling for your production line is the difference between on-time and losing customers. Every order promised to a customer where you fail to deliver will start to chip away at the relationship eventually leading to the customer looking elsewhere for a more reliable supplier.
Planning can fail in multiple ways but it mostly comes down to a problem with one or more of the following:
A good planning department should include:
Other things you can do to improve your order fulfillment is:
The end product you ship to customers has to meet their criteria. This is usually stated by the customers to your sales team and engineered to match their specifications. In a perfect world, any part that doesn’t match the client requirements doesn’t make it on the truck and 99.9999% of the parts you make meet those customer demands. So, you need to ensure your quality is controlled throughout your production cycle.
This makes your quality control and assurance one of the most critical roles in your organization. Key components of this factor include ensuring your gages are properly calibrated, your work centers are properly maintained, and you are regularly reviewing the tasks performed to make your parts.
Better production quality should include:
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