9 ways to increase productivity in manufacturing
Do you ever feel you should know everything about how to increase productivity in your business – but are not sure who to ask? Asking questions is a sign of strength.
We are here to help you get through the inevitable ups and downs of finding how to increase productivity in the manufacturing process. We know it can be hard to take a step back from your business and to give it an objective productivity analysis. So, we’ve compiled a 9-step guide to help steer you through the journey you may need to take to increase your manufacturing productivity.
- Find out where things stand. Before you can make things better you need to fully understand your current productivity rates and how they may have fluctuated over time – say the past five years for example. To do this you will need to gather vital information about your employees, your machinery and your processes.
- Audit your production workflow. This is all about identifying the pain points in your processes. The audit methodology will give your production managers the opportunity to take a forensic look at what works and what doesn’t. Each manager should be given a template to work from so that you get feedback on specific issues. There must also be flexibility for them to raise issues that you may not be aware of – without fear of repercussions. For this stage in the process it is vital to stress to your managers the importance of honest feedback. Also, don’t hold back on the areas you want to see improved – your managers may already have some of the answers.
- You need to gather as much information as you can about your staff. You need to know whether they are best suited to the jobs they are currently doing, whether they need training to upskill in certain areas as technology improves, how they communicate with one another and how effective this is in terms of ensuring speedy responses and maximum productivity. A great way to gather data on your team is to conduct a confidential survey to find out everything they enjoy about their roles, what they dislike and how happy they are doing what they do. You can also ask them about any changes you and your management team could make to improve their work-life balance for example. In short, what would make them happier and therefore more motivated to do the best job for you that they can. This may sound a bit soft, but a happy workforce is nearly always the most productive.
- Is your machinery up to date and able to keep up with the demands of your customers? The importance of having the right equipment for the job may sound obvious, but many manufacturing businesses seek to save costs by making do with out of date machinery which isn’t really fit for purpose. They make adaptations to cut costs. Doing so could lead to health and safety issues and will lead to increased costs in the medium term, or even the necessity to close your production lines to get a proper fix. No savvy business director wants that to happen. This is why it is imperative that you stay on top of technological changes, order spare parts before they are urgently needed and buy new equipment before your ageing machines are no longer supported.
- Establish good customer relations. Client expectations, pressures regarding production and strict deadlines can contribute to unrealistic goals. When workload benchmarks on the manufacturing floor are unattainable without some compromise to safety or quality, employees become dissatisfied, preventing the company from reaching productivity targets. To boost worker efficiency, it’s important that you set realistic, clearly defined objectives that ensure a combination of punctuality, high-quality output and safe procedures. Demonstrate to your teams that choosing the right customer is just as important as winning new business. Bad customers – and yes they do exist – tend to be overly demanding, take up way too much staff time, ultimately damaging manufacturing productivity. Good customers, on the other hand, can be nurtured. They will often come back for repeat business. This is a great morale booster for your team as they know the quality of their work and their output has third party endorsement. It could also make a good news story for your business in trade or local press.
- Encourage collaboration. There’s nothing worse for employees to feel that they are working in a vacuum with little support either for their fellow colleagues, managers – and you and your board. Be visible, operate an open-door policy and encourage staff at all levels to pop in to see you if they have an issue. Getting people working constructively and happily together in a collective manner will help you increase your manufacturing productivity.
- Update your manufacturing processes. This provides you with another great opportunity to further solidify your good working relationship with managers. It’ll require you to share any workflow problems with them, which could result in reassigning resources to different areas of the factory floor, managing budgets differently. Build this into your weekly to do list so that you are systematically evaluating performance and have the agility to make any requested changes quickly and efficiently.
- Invest in training and employee education. Following your initial employee survey and manufacturing audits you’ll be in a good place to assess which teams and individuals would benefit from training. It is essential that everyone gets the training they need in order to use the machinery and new technologies you’ll need to be continually upgrading and maintaining to avoid being out-flanked by your competitors. Yes, there are financial and time cost implications in training that takes staff away from their day jobs, but it will pay dividends in the longer term. It is your people – not you and your management team alone – who drive company growth. Providing the right people with the right training and ensuring you always have up to date equipment will go a long way to achieving increased manufacturing productivity. If you are looking for training resource for your staff, we offer in-depth courses and demonstrations on all our machines. Find out more about our training solutions.
- Invest in maintenance. Last but by no mean least is the essential need to invest in maintenance. Take a walk around your shop floor with your maintenance staff to establish if your machinery is being maintained properly. Be sure you know who is responsible for this important job and what is the chain of command in terms of ordering spare parts and installing them? If you don’t have a good stock of spare parts you could be facing a business continuity crisis – if production has to slow down or halt completely to allow maintenance work or fitting of spare parts to take place. Using genuine parts can also assist you with warranty compliance and safety, all of which can help reduce your downtime.
For more information on how Yamato can help you minimise downtime in your production line speak to one of our experts.