Manufacturing efficiency generally refers to the ability of a manufacturer to produce goods at the lowest possible cost and meet the demands of the market within a certain time frame. Of course, as you can imagine, one’s production is only as effective as other aspects of the business such as distribution, organization, and storage efficiency. So, it’s not just about making goods, it’s also about how you label them, store them, and organize your workforce to do the work with better results. In today’s highly competitive market, mastering these skills can be the difference between staying afloat or becoming truly successful.
That’s why we sorted out a few useful tips and smart solutions on how to improve your manufacturing efficiency and beat the competition. Read on!
The Japanese secret to success
In the 1950s, the giant manufacturer Toyota came up with an interesting solution on how to manage waste and make the whole production process much more efficient. By eliminating waste in all its forms, including overproduction, reducing the waiting time, eliminating defects and over-processing, excess inventory, and transportation, lean manufacturing was born. In short, lean manufacturing is all about delivering high-quality products to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible with the end goal being: to stick to the sacred rules of lean manufacturing for better results. These included:
- The visual presentation of the whole process, from raw material to the finished product. This way the manufacturer will have a better idea of what goes into the making of the product and how much time and effort it will take. It also gives a unique chance to look at the possible chances and cuts you can make and help you identify and eliminate non-value-adding activities which are just taking up resources unnecessarily.
- “ Continuous improvement”, known as Kaizen in Japanese terms, is a key component of the whole lean manufacturing concept involving all the employees and their suggestions on how to improve the process.
- And, last but not least, the 5S of lean manufacturing: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.
The concept has proven a real success and more and more manufacturers are taking up the ideas to improve their production costs and efficiency.
Labeling and sorting
As we explained in the introduction, there is more to the manufacturing process than delivering the goods at the lowest possible cost. The efficiency highly depends on how effectively you can manage your labeling and sorting issues in the storage. Why? Well, sorting out the labeling issue of pallets can save you time and your workers a lot of effort. Also, the better the labeling, the more efficient the transport of goods and their sorting. Simply speaking, with the labeling placed on pallets, you can finally eliminate possible defects and human errors and save a lot of time you would otherwise spend on such technicalities. You’ll have quick access to the items when needed, you’ll have a better track of all your inventory and what is missing, and you’ll prevent hazards from happening as effective labeling can also be a security concern in industries operating with chemicals and flammable items. You’ll also promote a sense of responsibility to your workers who’ll take better care of the storage of items and their sorting.
Real-time data collection
The use of real-time data collection and analysis can help you finally make more informed decisions when it comes to the whole production process. By effectively collecting data regarding the production time, the machine utilization, and how much energy is being used, you can identify possible defects and errors and work on their prevention. This way, you can finally make sure your process is not being interfered with by simple yet real issues which often cost you money and slow down the whole production line. There is numerous software you can use to help you with this issue and resolve your problems with ease. And the cost of subscription and use is surpassed by how much money you’ll save once you make informed-base decisions to improve your whole operation.
This is something every responsible manufacturer manager should have in mind at all times. You’re only as efficient and effective in keeping up the production line going as your machines allow you to be. Let’s face it, the whole process depends on robotic help and automation. This also means that once the machines stop working, so does the whole production. This happens more than often as malfunctions are a part of every well-oiled machine, and the only way to prevent this is by predictive maintenance. In short, it allows manufacturers to plan for maintenance and repairs in advance, reducing downtime and increasing production efficiency. Don’t let one loose screw mess up the whole operation. Stick to predictive maintenance.
Simply and demand
Your supply chain is the backbone of the whole production operation and allows for the process to actually meet demands and deadlines. One small error in the supply chain and you can put the whole operation on hold until things start to roll again. Therefore, we strongly advise you to optimize your supply chain, improving the flow of goods and materials from suppliers. This can include reducing lead times, improving inventory management, and streamlining the transportation of goods. Make a deal with several suppliers and never put all your eggs in one basket. This way, if one of the suppliers cannot deliver, you’ll have a backup plan allowing you to keep things going.
Employee training and development
Sometimes manufacturers overlook the fact that their operation is as effective as the workforce behind it. Many companies are paying for training lessons and seminars, classes, and additional opportunities for the employees to rise and become extremely good at what they do. It not only keeps your workforce happy and motivated, but it also allows you to be more effective and deliver better end results regarding the production of goods. A happy workforce is one eager to learn, improve, and do their best.
Communication is the key
Effective collaboration and communication between all parties involved in the manufacturing process is something you’ve heard about but never much thought about. Rest assured, improving the communication channels reduces the risk of miscommunication and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. This can include collaboration between suppliers, manufacturers, and customers, as well as communication within the manufacturing plant between departments and teams. The latter can be easily arranged, and all you have to do is hold regular meetings before each workday to deliver assignments and tasks, work on what everyone should do and pay attention to, and make an effort to deliver a clear and concise message. Your HR team can take over the task and even work on new methods to improve the existing channels of communication between the manufacturing district and employees.
We hope you’ll find these humble suggestions more than helpful. If you implement them, there is a good chance you’ll see results within the first three months and effectively lower the costs of production and reduce stress-inducing factors.