Manufacturing plants face a lot of pressure. There’s pressure to maximize output, resources, and safety, all while generating cost-effective end products that benefit the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, there are lots of small problems that create friction and make it challenging to meet rigid output goals and expectations.
6 Tips for Increasing Productivity and Maximizing Efficiency
Every manufacturing plant faces exclusive restraints and enjoys unique opportunities. The key is to optimize your plant’s efficiency and output by proactively addressing both technology and processes. Here are some suggestions:
1. Pay Attention to the Details
It’s rare that a massive, glaring problem goes undetected for weeks or months at a time. When it comes to maximizing efficiency and productivity, it’s usually the small details that hold plants back.
For example, something like a hydraulic adapter might seem extremely minor, but efficient quick connect processes with multi-coupling plates can improve automation and lead to less machine down time in industrial manufacturing settings.
It’s imperative that you zoom in and study the smallest details of your processes and brainstorm ways tiny tweaks can produce major improvements.
2. Try Value Mapping
Any professional with any experience in manufacturing understand the importance of going lean. The challenge is determining where to implement lean principles. Value-stream maps provide a blueprint for lean transformations.
“Mapping is a critical initial step in lean transformations because it shows you where you could apply lean techniques, such as kaizen events, for maximum effect,” Lean.org notes. “Mapping helps you avoid the common mistake of cherry-picking individual lean techniques, which creates isolated islands of improvement and limited benefits. The mapping cycle of mapping current conditions then quickly drawing and implementing a leaner future state improves the overall flow of value to the customer and delivers the biggest benefits.”
3. Invest in the Right Employee Education
Technology will only take you so far. You need the right people on your team, too. Furthermore, you have to continually train and educate your employees so they can add value to your manufacturing processes.
One suggestion is to train employees on multiple processes – not just one specialty. This increases the versatility within your plant and allows employees to help one another, step in and provide relief, and/or replace workers when there’s turnover or an extended leave of absence.
4. Quantify Everything
It’s rather obvious that you need to quantify and track big picture processes, but don’t stop with the macro. The micro elements matter just as much.
“Assign a point value, or better yet, a dollar value, to every aspect of your manufacturing process. Material costs are obvious, but take into account man-hours, equipment wear and tear, and planned obsolescence to further quantify production,” lean manufacturing expert Nik Seyferth writes. “By assigning numbers to every aspect of manufacturing, you’ll make it a lot easier to see which areas need immediate attention.”
5. Invest in Preventative Maintenance
It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of preventative maintenance and the time and resources it saves over the long haul. Reserve a portion of your budget to regularly inspecting and replacing parts/components before they fail. It’ll cost you up front, but it’ll save you significantly more over the long haul. Here are some preventative maintenance suggestions you may find helpful.
6. Prioritize Scalability
You never want to get caught in a compromising spot where you (a) can’t meet demand, or (b) have to meet strenuous production levels just to stay in business. That’s why scalability is so important.
When you prioritize scalability in all of your hardware and software applications, you’re able to meet fluctuating demand in any and all situations. This promotes optimal efficiency and reduces wasted resources and spending. Keep this in mind as you design and optimize your manufacturing processes.
What’s Your Plan?
If you’re a plant manager, or owner of a manufacturing business, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels and coast on the status quo. Efficiency and output must always increase, lest you find yourself falling behind the competition. Not every plant will have the same plan, but you do need a plan. Hopefully this article has supplied you with some ideas that will allow you to optimize your processes and shift them into another gear.