When you run a manufacturing business, keeping a high level of efficiency is critical for several reasons. Efficiency reduces operating costs, maximizes output, maximizes productivity, minimizes environmental impact, and leads to a higher level of customer satisfaction in most cases.
All of these direct benefits lead to more general advantages down the road, from higher sales and better product quality to improved business image. In this blog, the abrasive technicians at Fintech Abrasives will present 10 ideas to improve manufacturing efficiency at your company. As industrial abrasive manufacturers, we’ve had to spend a lot of our time improving the efficiency of our own manufacturing processes. These 10 proven methods worked well for us in our own processes.
1. Identify Bottlenecks
One of the first steps to take when improving efficiency is identifying those areas where inefficiencies exist. This includes determining where bottlenecks are located and eliminating them.
You can identify these efficiency obstructions by:
Finding out which process or machine has the longest wait times. This means that the bottleneck is in the previous machine.
Seeing where backlogged work is a regular problem.
Determining which machine or process uses the highest degree of its capacity. This will likely be the bottleneck itself.
Once you know where the problems lie, it’s easier to reduce and finally eliminate them.
2. Eliminate Waste
Waste occurs in manufacturing at several levels, but the area that creates the most concern is material waste. It’s expensive, and it’s not good for the environment. Here are some ideas for keeping it to a minimum at your facility.
Recycle scraps and old equipment: You may not be able to use your leftover materials or outdated equipment, but it’s likely that another business can. By selling it, you realize a profit while avoiding waste.
Optimize production processes: Are you effectively utilizing all available material? For example, can you sharpen and reuse older tools instead of always throwing them away and replacing them?
Review product designs: One of the best ways to cut down on waste is to use less material in the first place. Ask the engineering and product design teams to embrace value engineering and similar methodologies to make sure that you improve yield while cutting back on surplus.
3. Keep All Workspaces Organized
Walk around the production floor and do a visual inspection of all the workstations. Are all materials, tools and machinery in their proper places and easy to access? Or are they scattered across the facility, forcing workers to keep hunting for the resources they need to do their work? Keeping everything organized will ensure that no productivity is wasted due to missing items.
4. Assign Value to Every Process
Make sure that every aspect of your manufacturing business has a dollar value. This includes:
Employee hours and wages
Equipment purchases and maintenance
When all of these areas are quantified financially, it’s easier to see which ones may be costing too much money and take appropriate action.
5. Standardize All Work Processes
Most people have their own unique approach to doing their work, even in fairly standardized occupations like manufacturing. However, it’s important to keep things consistent in order to maximize production output.
To keep all of your employees on the same page, create checklists for each job and post each one at the appropriate workstation. It may take awhile before these lists and their sequenced actions become common practice, but once it does, you will likely notice a positive difference in productivity and product quality.
6. Improve Preventive Maintenance Programs
A sound preventive maintenance program will keep your machinery and equipment in good working order and prevent expensive breakdowns and premature replacements. The goal is to provide maintenance before it becomes necessary, but not so frequently that it interferes with production.
7. Automate Whenever Possible
Robotic process automation (RPA) involves the use of software for repetitive manual tasks so that employees can make better use of their time. Manufacturing-related tasks that are conducive to RPA include processing of purchase orders, tracking inventory, transportation scheduling, and ordering raw materials.
If you regularly manufacture the same parts, you might want to look into implementing CNC (computer numerical control), which uses computer-directed machinery to produce multiple parts from a single template.
8. Update Older Equipment
You can have the most dedicated and productive workforce, but if your manufacturing equipment is too old to keep up with demand or continually requires maintenance, it’s time to spend money to make money. In other words, invest in new machinery. Once it’s installed, your production line will progress more smoothly and you will likely notice an increase in output.
9. Get Feedback From Employees
Your employees can be a valuable source of information regarding what’s working and what isn’t. Talk to them and solicit ideas for ways that you can help make their jobs easier and more efficient. When you involve them in the solution to your efficiency problem, they’re much more likely to support it instead of see it as another management productivity experiment.
10. Improve Training Processes
No efficiency strategies can succeed unless your employees understand and embrace them. Provide them with the necessary training for their individual roles and make sure that they understand how the new efficiencies work as a whole. By equipping them with information, you put them in a position to take ownership of their work and make the new system succeed.
Training is especially important if you adopt new equipment and technologies. While there is always a learning curve at the beginning, a standardized approach to learning will ensure ongoing employee competency on the job.
Greater process efficiency is an important goal for any business. When you adopt it in a manufacturing facility, your company will realize a wide range of benefits that keep it profitable and productive from one year to the next.
About Fintech Industrial Abrasives
Fintech Industrial Abrasives is a leading manufacturer of sanding discs, sanding belts, sanding rolls, and other high-quality abrasives that are regularly used in manufacturing. Our custom-manufactured abrasive products are designed to be some of the most effective, durable, and long-lasting abrasives on the market. Fintech’s abrasives can help you increase productivity while reducing supply costs. For more information about our products, speak to a technician today by filling out our contact form or calling (888) 223-8768.