Five tips to increase production productivity in any manufacturing facility.
1. Review Workflows
Put your process engineer to work and review your current workflows. Count the steps and time it takes each worker to get complete a job, pull an order, stock inventory, receive and ship orders. Where can you minimize time and increase efficiencies? This may mean investing in new software or technologies, re-organizing a floor plan or moving a workstation.
It seems like a hassle, but re-organizing warehouse inventory locations, re-working processes and physically moving machines can have a huge payoff.
This one is simple: everything has a place, and everything is in its place. While lean practices are not as trendy as they once were, the basic principle is still very relevant. Staying organized helps increase efficiencies and workflows by reducing the time it takes to search for tools, reference materials, pallets, and other items needed throughout the shift. If a machine is down for maintenance, you don’t want a lost tool to hold it up the job any longer than it already is. The entire team needs to commit to maintaining an organized workspace though, or there will not be a noticeable increase in efficiency.
3. Share & Document Knowledge
Ensure that information is shared across the teams, and better yet, document it. There can be a high cost if information is only stored in one team member’s brain. This creates bottlenecks or is lost forever if that person leaves the company. Knowledge is power. Enforce employees to update and create policies, procedures, manuals and general FAQs (knowledge base) immediately, and keep these reference documents in an easily accessible shared location. When someone has a question, these documents should be the first place they look for an answer. If they can’t find it, then seek it out from the team. Once an answer is found, it needs to be documented right away for future references.
4. Technology Updates
Invest in your equipment. While you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars each year on the newest tech gadgets and paper converting machines, it’s important to keep your machines, software, computers and networking equipment up-to-date to prevent hardware failures, malfunctions, slow speeds and other common problems associated with outdated equipment. Your team can only work as efficiently as the tools you provide them with. Create annual plans and allocate monies to invest in tech upgrades throughout your company so it’s not forgotten. Being proactive about maintaining and updating equipment is much better than waiting until it’s too late. While we can’t always predict when a machine will break or a computer will crash, not planning for the recommended maintenance could easily result in an unplanned expense and additional downtime that could have been avoided by proper planning.
5. Analyze Data & Set Goals
Set production goals for operator and job performance to define clear expectations, and then measure actual data against these goals. Track all job metrics, including set-up times, downtimes, run rates and waste to understand where improvements can be made by shift, worker, machine, job and facility. Remember, the goals need to be realistic not idealistic, and adjusted as needed.
Healthy competitions between employees can also motivate the team to be more efficient and it presents opportunities for awards and small celebrations to boost morale.