Manufacturing Toolbox for Next-Level Productivity

To remain competitive in this dynamic environment, organizations should have a number of tools at their disposal.

Stock On The Plant Floor
Getty Images

The story of the manufacturing sector has been one of progress. Few manufacturers remained successful by building the exact same products as when they started. Although this means their products are always evolving to meet the demands of the marketplace, it also means they have to be able to react to external changes.

New technology brings a host of changes that these companies need to internalize. For example, the increasing dependence on automation leads to the need for more skilled workers who understand these systems. If workers cannot adapt successfully, organizations could find themselves struggling to keep up with the rest of the industry.

To remain competitive in this dynamic environment, organizations should have a number of tools at their disposal. These tools go beyond the physical equipment used in facilities to encompass a kind of toolbox of ideas. For example, an investment in regular maintenance can ensure that machinery stays in service for as long as possible. This results in higher productivity and fewer costly downtime periods.

There’s more than one kind of tool necessary for success in manufacturing. Here are some concepts and ideas you should have in your toolbox to yield higher productivity.

  • Smarter equipment. Machining tools that utilize advanced automation such as CNC mills can significantly impact efficiency. Although they may involve upfront costs, they can also more than make up for it through increased productivity.
  • Continued education. As technology becomes more advanced, the need for skilled employees increases. Investing in regular training for your workers can help them keep up with the changes.
  • Increased scrutiny. Improving workflow begins with a close examination of how your facility works. Value mapping can identify areas where you may have pinch points that can be eliminated.
  • Updated processes. Once you have a clear idea of how your workflow does or does not function as well as it should, the next step is to optimize the production floor. Establishing solid metrics for success is key to better ensuring you’re on the right track.
  • Investment in maintenance. Your equipment won’t deliver expected benefits if you don’t take the time to care for it. If you experience downtime due to neglect, it will set you back considerably and make it more difficult to recover.
  • Employee collaboration. The gears of a machine only work when they’re meshed and turning toward the same goal. Make sure your employees can work together comfortably without issues, and a more productive workplace will result.
  • Diligent organization. Keeping everything in its place is crucial in a manufacturing environment. Wasted time that comes from confusion and duplicated work eats into your profitability.
  • Realistic expectations. Setting the bar too high can generate stress and hurt employee morale. Unrealistic goals also may influence workers to cut corners on quality and safety, which will be costly in the long run.
  • Optimized inventory. Maintaining the proper levels of inventory means you won’t experience shortages or be burdened with too much stock. You may be able to automate your inventory tracking through special software that can alert to any projected shortages.
  • Vendor relationships. You depend on your vendors to supply what you need when you need it. If you focus on building good working relationships based on trust and communication, you should yield better results.
  • Improved forecasting. Being able to predict the ebb and flow of supply and demand is essential. Today, it is relatively easy to rely on predictive models generated by software platforms.
  • Focused recruiting. Finding the best people for your operations can make all the difference. Many successful manufacturers concentrate on recruiting from trade schools and technical programs, rather than traditional high schools.