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Author: admin in: Business Solutions

5 Key Factors Affecting Production Management

April 22, 2022

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:

5 Key Factors Affecting Production Management

Processes

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:

  1. Ask what issues there are with a process. Where is there a problem? This should be asked at all levels, starting with the operators that engage most with the process.
  2. Plan how it can be made simpler, easier, and faster. At the same time, you want to create less waste and be safer.
  3. Implement some or all of the changes suggested, where possible.
  4. Confirm that the new changes are having a positive effect.
  5. Adjust the changes as necessary and apply the new process where possible.
  6. Repeat step 1.
Kaizen Method

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.

How To Improve Processes

Beyond implementing a method that improves processes, here are a few added steps you can take:

  • Communicate your objectives with your teams.
  • Actively engage your company to include continuous improvement as part of the culture.
  • Add Lean methods as part of training and onboarding for staff.
  • Make key metrics and goals varied based on position and operation so staff know what to target.
  • Reward staff that net you the best improvements.

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.

Staff

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:

Negative factors affecting staff

How To Improve Staff

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:

Hiring improvements
  • Hiring happier workers has been found to have a cumulative effect on productivity and morale.
  • While acquiring ready-to-go talent is great, it can be costlier and more difficult due to a smaller pool of talent to fish from. Instead, look to acquire better prospects and train them from nothing if needed.
  • By training and promoting your own staff you show that loyalty and hard work will pay off.
  • The previous 3 items will lead to higher morale which leads to more motivated and productive staff.
  • Hard-working staff that like what they do and are gunning for a promotion will always refer their best people which turn your hiring practices into a virtuous cycle.

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.

Maintenance

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.

How to Improve Maintenance

To improve your maintenance:

  • Have a central repository for maintenance manuals and safety steps for all tools.
  • Have a system that allows maintenance to see when the machine is not in use.
  • Allow operators and planners to schedule maintenance for when the machine is not needed with work orders.
  • Keep replacement parts on hand.
  • Train operators to perform some maintenance on the machines they use regularly.

Planning

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:

  • Lack of proper forecasting due to a non-integrated sales module.
  • No planning access to operator time, leading to missing operators or no budget for overtime.
  • Poor maintenance (see above).
  • Incorrect engineering setup, leading to bad Material Resource Planning (MRP).
  • Bad vendor/supplier communication.
Issues that lead to planning failures

How to Improve Planning

A good planning department should include:

  • Access to customer forecasting to improve long-term views with rough cut capacity planning (RCCP).
  • Detailed labour information leading to improved DCP (Detailed, Dynamic, or Demand Capacity Planning) with capabilities to schedule added staff, if required.
  • Open communication between departments.
  • Well defined MRP factors (video).
  • Nesting integrated with your ERP.
  • Better vendor relation and supply chain management software.
  • Up-to-date scheduling with a clear roadmap of upcoming orders and issues.

Other things you can do to improve your order fulfillment is:

  • Business unit integration: Your sales team should have access to, or knowledge of, your available capacity. A sales team that knows the capacity of the plant yet to be committed, or Available to Promise (ATP), will be better equipped on what they can promise their customers.
  • Late order dashboards: By having customer service reps with ready access to data from the shop floor, they can quickly establish the reason for a delay and inform the customers that there has been an issue. This proactive approach with reasons for delays can have a net positive effect on your customer relations.

Quality

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.

Best Practices for Managing Quality in Production

Better production quality should include:

  • A central database that keeps records of product specifications and procedures that can be accessible by any relevant staff.
  • Gage management software where the gages are audited and updated regularly.
  • Process audits that are setup to be performed at regular intervals by various staff.
  • Quality Management System (QMS) that features online inspection reporting, SPC, and other important quality concepts.
Quality Management System Must-haves

Agree/ Disagree? Tell us what you think below!

Author

  • Vincent Bull

    Vincent Bull is the current VP of Sales and Marketing at On-Ramp Solutions Inc. On-Ramp provides comprehensive, flexible fully integrated ERP, MES software solutions to manufacturing and services based companies. He is seasoned in the interaction between software solutions and pairing that with helping human resources improve their abilities to increase their production capacity. Vincent has a passion as well for sports such as basketball and has long been a supporter of such initiatives as The Guelph Board of Approved Basketball Officials. He also has volunteered at Special Olympics Ontario, for a host of different sporting events. Vince is a graduate of Georgian College in Ontario, holding a degree in Computer Programming.

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