5 Surefire Ways to Increase Efficiency And Productivity In Your Manufacturing Process
Productivity in manufacturing is a different beast compared to the popular management guides. More than office atmosphere and clever scheduling, it’s about faster production, inter-team coherence, and greater workplace safety.
Having an actual strategy for internal communication is essential for developing a community. A community means more trust and better teamwork between frontline employees, backend staff, management, and leadership. Provide everyone with mobile devices for work, especially non-desk employees.
Equip people with dedicated apps and cloud support so they’ll have access to necessary information anywhere, anytime. This has several benefits for your productivity levels:
- Faster, safer access to data and tools
- Clearer hierarchies of roles and responsibilities
- Information can be funneled into relevant silos
- Smoother collaboration
- Seamless real-time communication
- Faster troubleshooting
Perhaps the greatest benefit is that people from all sectors can pool their insights in a central hub. You can combine the knowledge of management, engineers, and frontline production teams to facilitate product innovation, workflow improvements, etc.
Dedicated tools and maintenance
It’s obvious, but it bears repeating: invest in quality tools and keep them in top shape. We don’t just mean machinery, either. Equip your employees with the appropriate productivity aids to bridge gaps in knowledge or process. Consider:
- Analytics software
- Real-time help desks
- Automated accounting tasks
- Data management programs
- Feedback systems
As far as production machinery goes, don’t neglect your maintenance schedules. Regular upkeep reduces downtime in the long run, keeping the whole operation running smoothly. Moreover, train the workers to monitor each machine between scheduled maintenance sessions. Keep a stash of spare components on hand in case of unexpected breakdowns and have a number of people trained to do basic emergency repairs.
Streamline your inspections
Reviewing your manufacturing space, equipment, and processes is a necessary part of business, even if it can sometimes be unpleasant, tedious, or disruptive to the workflow. The catch is to view each inspection as an opportunity to optimize. Focus on two things: flexibility and thoroughness.
For example, a versatile infrared thermography inspection can cover your mechanical, fluid, and electrical systems, as well as a good chunk of online testing for your electric motors. Each of these might require further targeted reviews and troubleshooting, but a multifaceted once-over can be a great early detection system. IRT testing in particular can indicate changes in:
- Corrosion damage,
- Circuit overloads,
- Faulty connections,
- Excessive friction,
- Subpar insulation,
- Fluid levels,
And more. In other words, it gives you a thorough picture of the manufacturing process as a whole, rather than checking each system out of context. This saves you time, money, and effort in regular general maintenance. If some specific problem requires a niche approach, you can focus your resources on a need-to basis.
Digital manufacturing education
The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is your top ally in boosting overall productivity levels. Educate your workers and managers about the concept of Industry 4.0: introduce them to virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and cobots. These technological advancements mean greater speed and efficiency, but can also go a long way in building a safer workplace.
Help your teams develop the necessary skills by directly exposing them to the devices and networks, e.g. AR training software, virtual models, AI-powered learning guides for new equipment, etc. It might seem a tad overwhelming, but long term it’s a great way to cut down on training costs.
Moreover, the interactive nature of these new systems helps people retain information better, so you get highly skilled workers faster. It also keeps people up to speed with industry developments, meaning your whole operation keeps pace with the times and possibly stays ahead of competitors.
Diversify your workforce
In recent years, data from the National Association of Manufacturers has shown that about a quarter of the manufacturing workforce is aged 55 or older. That means there’s a sector-wide skill gap and labor shortage. One particular concern is “brain drain” – losing technical and institutional knowledge as the older generation retires.
The trouble is that younger people aren’t really attracted to manufacturing careers, so if you want to improve your production, your recruiters have to adapt to the new demographic’s demands.
The new generation of workers appreciate globalist and humane values. Whether in offices or workshops, young people want representation, equity, and a humane community. Aim to recruit more women from related engineering programs, more international talent, and more socioeconomically sensitive categories (i.e. minorities or people with disabilities which don’t prevent them from doing the job).
Review your hiring strategies and eliminate any leftover loopholes that might enable discrimination based on gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Embracing the broad social consciousness mindset has five distinct benefits for your manufacturing enterprise: access to a fresh workforce pool, better-rounded industry expertise, greater potential for product innovation, more contemporary market insight, and an immense boost to your company reputation – which in turn will attract more young talent.
In conclusion, efficient manufacturing comes down to a few central factors. Adopt new tech and train your staff to keep up. Invest in tools that cover your gaps – both production- and management-wise – and make an effort to keep them in top shape.
Use regular inspections to review your systems as a whole and try to take a multifunctional approach. Above all, strive to build a diverse workforce that communicates well and functions as a cohesive community.