Here are some more cost-effective ways to increase the efficiency of your manufacturing plant.
1. Manage expectations realistically
With so much talk about AI, automation and smart manufacturing these days, some managers’ expectations of the way that a plant can be transformed have fallen out of line with what’s practical, possible and affordable in your particular business.
Incremental progress and modernisation are usually more successful than a “big bang” approach where big theoretical rewards can be offset by big risks. Begin with goals that are realistically achievable and that you can begin to progress toward straight away. Otherwise, you risk an early failure, which will tend to make people lose faith in the whole process. Use early wins to point the way toward what’s achievable in the medium term.
Cambridge University’s Institute for Management worked with a small, specialist flooring manufacturer to bring about these kinds of sustainable changes. Together, they used competence mapping to see where the company was efficient and where it had weaknesses. You can see the case study at https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/ecotile-boosting-growth-through-innovation-and-efficiency/.
2. Cut unnecessary processes
Review the amount of red tape processes that are not adding value, and see whether they can be eliminated or combined. Time and motion has had its day, but it can still be useful to see how much time employees waste walking across the production floor to get some items and deliver others. Find out how many manual or semi-automated controls could be replaced by the new generation of electrical control components like those at http://www.osmelectrical.com/.
3. Get everyone to collaborate
Open communication is the key to open collaboration, and when that happens, the production floor becomes a much more efficient place. However, worker suggestion sessions have to be handled carefully to make sure they aren’t dominated by the permanently aggrieved. Give people who have useful and positive suggestions some other way to express them, such as by mobile phone or online tools such as Survey Monkey.
4. Maintenance saves money
Daily equipment inspection and maintenance seems like a time-consuming ritual, but it can save significant sums. If a key piece of equipment goes down and a process can’t run, you can have employees sitting around for days waiting for the repair to be carried out or a new machine to arrive.