If you want to maximize success in your manufacturing plant, it starts with increasing your efficiency. And while there are thousands of ways to do this, it’s best to start with the low-hanging fruit.
5 Small Tweaks You Can Make
Efficiency is absolutely mandatory for any type of business in any industry. However, you could argue that it’s the lifeblood of manufacturing plants. Without efficiency, a manufacturing plant is nothing – it ceases to exist.
Poor efficiency means delays, higher costs, lower quality, and frustration. But there’s a flip side to this coin as well. If you can make high efficiency a part of your organizational DNA, you can set your business up for massive amounts of success.
Oftentimes, business leaders, plant managers, and even shift managers feel like they have to move mountains in order to increase efficiency. But the truth is that the smallest tweaks can produce oversized results.
With this in mind, here are several small tweaks you can make:
1. Analyze Workflow
Always begin with workflow. You want to analyze the existing workflow and look for any opportunities that exist to shore up weak areas or strengthen aspects that are doing well. Pay careful attention to every element of your workflow, including the less obvious aspects like software, communication, workspace ergonomics, etc.
All of these elements combine to impact workflow. Saving several seconds on a task might not seem like much in isolation. However, when you consider that a task is performed hundreds of times per week, it adds up.
2. Train Employees
You can have the best, most perfectly optimized workflows in the world, but they won’t do an ounce of good if your employees aren’t well-trained and prepared to execute. Employees need to be developed. You can’t expect them to just step in and perform because you have good workflows.
When training employees, observe, listen, and gather feedback. Where do employees feel most unprepared? Which aspects of your workflow are most prone to human error? Are there new technologies that employees don’t understand how to use?
Training isn’t a one-time event. It’s not something you do once as part of the employee onboarding process and then forget about. Training has to become an ongoing commitment – something you invest in on an ongoing basis.
3. Choose the Right Supply Chain Partners
Don’t underestimate the importance of having reliable partners for replacement parts. When plant machinery breaks down, you need to be able to place an order for a specific part and have it delivered to your plant in a matter of hours.
For example, let’s say your machinery relies on valves to operate efficiently. You can’t wait two weeks for a repair or replacement. That’s two weeks of lower output, which erodes the bottom line. You need a partner like NASVI, which has turnaround exchange programs where you can receive the valves needed for installation prior to even shutting down your machinery. The old valves can then be sent for repair or exchange.
4. Invest in Preventive Maintenance
When it comes to keeping complex industrial machinery in tip-top shape, there’s no better investment than an investment in preventive maintenance. It might initially seem like a waste of resources to ramp up your preventive maintenance efforts, but the long-term ROI is clear. By preventing costly breakdowns that disrupt workflow and severely dampen output, you can optimize efficiency and ensure smooth, reliable processes across the board.
5. Incentivize Plant Workers
An hourly employee working the plant floor – or even a salaried employee overseeing a team of workers – doesn’t really care about efficiency. He doesn’t want to get yelled at or embarrassed, but it doesn’t really matter to him if you produce five widgets per hour or 25. He gets paid the same either way.
If you want plant workers to care about efficiency, try incentivizing them. (Yes, even the entry-level plant workers making a few bucks an hour.) When you do this, it motivates people to pay attention. It gives people a reason to care. Suddenly, going from five widgets per hour to six isn’t just a goal from corporate – it offers real benefits. Find ways to do this and you’ll never have to “babysit” employees again.
Iterate and Evaluate
Manufacturing plant efficiency is basically a game. It’s a high-stakes game with lots on the line, but it’s a game, nonetheless. The more you compete to fine-tune the small elements of your plant’s processes and technology, the better the results will be.
The key to successful improvements is to constantly iterate and evaluate. In other words, make changes and then carefully study the results. If additional iterations are needed, don’t be afraid to make them. The goal is to iterate to great – and sometimes this takes time!