You can create the best product in the world and still struggle to stay afloat if your processes hold you back.
Manufacturing is a perpetual battle between increasing output and driving down costs while maintaining good product quality for customers. The key is to increase your production efficiency. Continue reading to learn more about manufacturing efficiency and solutions to consider in order to eliminate bottlenecks and improve operations.
Productivity in manufacturing vs. efficiency
Everyone is always talking about increasing your manufacturing operations’ productivity and efficiency. But did you know there is a distinction between these two ideas? Let’s clarify both concepts before we get into ways to increase your efficiency.
Productivity in manufacturing
When we discuss manufacturing productivity, we only evaluate the amount of products produced. As an example:
Your manufacturing line produced 600 items last week.
You manufactured 700 units this week.
As a result, your productivity increased.
We focus on quantity rather than quality. While producing more in less time, it is very likely that the number of defective items grew as well; this is why we investigate production efficiency.
When we discuss manufacturing efficiency, we are concerned with boosting the effectiveness and quality of the task. Its focus is broader, and it strives to reduce the amount of errors and overall risk, ensuring that your work is efficient in the long run.
Many factors can effect efficiency, such as investing in higher-quality materials to reduce breakage or improving onboarding procedures to assist personnel complete tasks more quickly.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a metric in percentages that calculates the time it takes to create only good items with zero downtime at the lowest average total cost.
It is a useful statistic for reducing waste, discovering faults, and comparing your performance to that of the competition.
While a perfect score would be 100%, manufacturers often operate in the 60-85% range. You may learn more about OEE and how to calculate it by reading one of our blogs on the subject.
How can manufacturing be made more efficient?
You don’t have to limit yourself to productivity or efficiency. Your productivity will increase if you improve manufacturing efficiency correctly.
Examine your information
Before you do anything else, you should first analyse data to see where your processes are failing and where they may be improved. You can seek for patterns in which a procedure takes longer than usual, or you can start with the most expensive ones. Perhaps certain employees take too many extra steps, or a machine requires different settings.
Consider the entire process, including the labour, equipment, materials, and methodology. Based on your results, you may plan your next steps to minimise bottlenecks and achieve optimum efficiency.
Standardization defines the best and most efficient approach to complete a task.
Did you ever consider that human error accounts for more than 80% of all errors on manufacturing sites?
With precise standards, you can always predict how procedures will unfold, reducing human errors and downtime. Because its fundamental component is consistency in output, its impacts go a long way toward cutting costs and improving product quality.
Workers will satisfy quality standards regardless of their level of experience since they are directed through each step by a checklist or SOPs.
Employee training and knowledge capture
There is always a new method, piece of equipment, or function to fill – learning, like progress, should be ongoing. You should make your onboarding and re-skilling processes as effective as feasible.
Active, hands-on activities have been shown to be more effective than passive traditional earning. Use technology to your advantage, whether it’s digitising those bulky and complicated print manuals or providing interactive employee training using augmented reality.
It may also be worthwhile to investigate good knowledge management tools. Many manufacturers are facing skill shortages as the silver tsunami sweeps through the business and people retire. Capture your senior professionals’ knowledge, turn it into institutional knowledge, and share it with others.
Encourage a culture of collaboration.
Employee happiness is more popular than ever, yet soliciting input is not a new concept. Employee engagement and organisational culture have long relied heavily on open communication. Reporting erroneous or obsolete processes and gaining perspective from those who carry them out on a regular basis can be extremely useful in identifying bottlenecks.
Feedback collection methods are also becoming more complex. There are mobile collaboration platforms where employees may offer comments, connect with one another, and solve problems in real time. This can increase employee satisfaction as well as efficiency.
Reorganize the office layout
One of the most important things that influences our judgments is proximity. When creating your layout, keep in mind that the purpose is to minimise unnecessary movement.
Do your employees have to trek to the opposite side of the building to find manuals or documents? Is tool and material storage too far away from where they will be used? Employee productivity can be hampered by excessive walking or moving numerous times each day.
The same is true for the product: if it is possible to strategically modify the layout to shorten the product’s path around the factory, do so. While it may appear simple, Honda increased their efficiency by 10% by improving their assembly line structure.
Maintain a regular maintenance routine
Workers are unable to do their duties, the machine requires repair, and production is halted. Maintenance downtime is substantially less expensive than unexpected downtime due to broken parts.
Maintaining regular maintenance may appear to be a chore, but it will pay off. Determine the least-busy time and plan a preventive maintenance schedule.
It may also be worthwhile to train more than one of your operators on maintenance and troubleshooting – you can plan maintenance but cannot guarantee that they will not call in sick.