Time is money. The more production you can get out in a period of time, the more money you make, right?
But if you’ve been struggling with improving production or even if everything is going fine, there are several things you can do to increase throughput. Below are some ways to increase productivity at your manufacturing facility.
Review Your Workflows
You won’t know what can be changed until you know how everything works now. Three areas contain critical information to help you identify needed changes.
- People – Do you have people with the right skills in the right places?
- Processes – When was the last time you mapped your processes? Where are the pain points and bottlenecks?
- Machines and technology – Are all the machine in good repair? Is the technology you rely on optimal for your current needs? How easy is it to make changes in production?
Before making a change it is important to assess all that will be affected.
Update Processes and Technology
Once you have reviewed and mapped your existing workflow, start identifying areas where processes and/or technology could use some updating or changing. Processes that have been in place for a long time may be riddled with workarounds as new equipment was added or production methods changed.
- Automation is a powerful tool for increasing efficiency and reducing error.
- New production control software solutions can help with scheduling, inventory, and monitoring workflow.
- Improvements in machines can improve production speed and quality.
When identifying new technology and machinery, keep in mind the total cost of ownership and how the bottom line will be affected. A high initial expense is worth it if the total cost of ownership is lower than the technology or process you are replacing and if it solves a problem such as a clearing a production bottleneck or reducing scrap.
Everyone has their own approach to things, but in the world of manufacturing, there’s not a lot of room for individuality. Even the simplest tasks should be standardised to maximize efficiency.
- Start by making a checklist, and placing it in each workspace. Then, make sure that every employee who does a job in that workspace follows the checklist. This simple act can reduce downtime and improve overall product quality.
- Don’t limit training and education to equipment. Your manufacturing facility will run more smoothly if everyone understands your policies on workplace harassment and proper communications.
Organise the Workspace
Reducing movement and clutter saves time.
- Reduce movement for optimal task efficiency.
- Create the optimal layout of tools and materials for the job or process.
- Remove unneeded or unused tools and materials from the workspace.
- Layout the manufacturing floor to maximise efficiency.
- Break bottlenecks – Bottlenecks are places in your workflow where production gets backed up because your processes aren’t in sync.
If a product must be moved from one machine to another, is there a way to shorten the distance, orient the product, or move the product more quickly yet safely to the next step in the process? Is there a software solution that could improve production and scheduling?
Excess movement is a sign of poor organisation and can cost you plenty in production time. Consider techniques such as Kanban (just-in-time production) to reduce delays and increase efficiency.
Maintain Optimal Inventory
Although inventory is listed on a balance sheet as an asset, it’s actually not in your best interests to have too much of it. An inventory glut can interfere with manufacturing productivity by getting in the way, creating clutter and making it difficult to find what you need when you need it.
If you have too much inventory, you need a place to store it and hope you will use it all. If you have too little, you run the risk of a work stoppage as you wait for more inventory.
- Use software to track inventory and create automatic notifications of shortages. You may be able to allow vendors direct access to your inventory counts and automatically fulfil needed supplies.
- Create favoured vendor relationships to gain accountability for the quality of parts and timeliness of deliveries.
Keep track of rejection rates, declining quality, and late deliveries so you can rectify them with the supplier or find a new one. If you know one of your vendors is undergoing an extensive change such as a sale to another company, request assurances and guarantees that your deliveries will continue as before.
Increased productivity should be driven by deliberate change rather than rapid “fixes” that may help in the short term but cause long-term problems.
Finally, increased productivity results in increased revenue and the opportunity to expand the business, take on more work, or increase wages or new equipment purchases. Make it a policy to review your business regularly.