Inefficiency is one of the biggest threats to any manufacturing business—the phrase “time is money” is very literal in this industry. If one part of the process, even a small part, isn’t running as smoothly as it should be, it affects the entire manufacturing process. When you’re not producing, you’re losing money. Inefficiency is certainly a reality, but it doesn’t have to be the norm.
One of the most effective ways to bolster productivity is to reduce the amount of time that machines, and people, are idle. Not only will this reduce downtime, but it will drastically increase your facility’s efficiency as well. Here are a few specific changes you can make to your facility and your processes to help you avoid costly inefficiency.
#1: Improve Communication
In just about every industry, and in every company, there’s room for improvement when it comes to communication—between managers and employees, within the individual or separate departments, among individual employees, etc. If you’re a supervisor, you should be making sure that everyone in your facility understands the relationship between downtime and business profits. Your employees should feel like they’re part of a team with a common goal, and like they’re part of important decisions being made.
#2: Regular Staff Evaluations
Regular performance reviews are common, but a lot of companies aren’t truly capitalizing on the effects they can have on your team and your processes. Evaluations of your employees should be honest and straightforward—in addition to focusing on areas of improvement, you should also make sure that your employees know what they’re doing well. With honest but compassionate feedback, your employees will not only know what to work on, but feel inspired to take your constructive criticism to heart. If you’re rude, condescending, or don’t make them feel valued, they won’t be very motivated to improve.
#3: Setting Efficiency Goals
It’s hard to measure success when you aren’t setting specific, attainable goals. When you aren’t reaching the goals you set, it’s much harder to keep your processes efficient. In addition to setting quarterly goals to reduce errors and improve productivity, you should also set daily goals. Having a balance of goals that are far out in the future, and immediate, will keep things productive and your team motivated—when your team is motivated, downtime is automatically minimized. Communication plays a big part in setting goals as well. When your employees understand their role in the entire process, as well as exactly what they need to do, it’s much easier for them to accomplish what you need them to.
Speaking of your employees’ roles in the process—listen to them! Use their suggestions to improve processes and reduce downtime. They’re in the process every day and may have some really valuable insight into how things can be improved, or what’s working well. Not to mention that when your employees feel heard and valued, they’ll feel more motivated to help the facility reach overall goals.
#4: Avoiding Downtime with Well-Maintained Equipment
You might be sensing a theme here. Your employees have a huge effect on the probability of downtime—but another important aspect of reducing downtime is your manufacturing equipment. You should be monitoring and inspecting your equipment regularly, as well as upgrading and repairing it when necessary. If your equipment is constantly jamming or breaking down, your facility is experiencing regular unscheduled downtime—meaning lost productivity, and lost time. That’s why regular maintenance is one of the most important things you can implement. Another added benefit is that regular maintenance will minimize the need for costly repairs and even costlier replacements. The goal is to have a proactive mindset when it comes to equipment, instead of simply reacting to problems when they arise. Stay tuned for more information on this subject in our next blog.
Even though regular maintenance goes a long way in preserving your equipment, sometimes an upgrade or replacement is necessary. It’s important to know when it’s necessary, and to bite the bullet—otherwise, the cost of unscheduled downtime will far outway what a replacement would have cost you. Replacing obsolete or underperforming equipment will significantly reduce your facility’s downtime because outdated machines can easily slow down your entire manufacturing process. Installing new equipment will help keep your facility up-to-date with the latest technology, and also allows room for updates in the future.
The Overall Equipment and Effectiveness (OEE) measurement is commonly used to gauge a facility’s effectiveness. Some common causes of efficiency loss you can look out for include breakdowns, set up losses, minor stoppages, reduced speed, start-up issues, and rework to resolve quality issues.
Reducing downtime and increasing efficiency might seem like a monster task, but it can be as simple as implementing a few new steps into your manufacturing process.
Looking for more advice on increasing productivity and reducing downtime? Contact Revere Control Systems today.