For companies to maintain their competitive advantage they must continually look at ways to keep their manufacturing efficient by eliminating deficiencies, monitoring productivity and improve operational performance.
With the continued pressures of output, quality and deadlines to be met, businesses must engage in ‘preventative maintenance’ and improvement at a company level. To compete successfully in today’s manufacturing environment, every part of the business needs to run at maximum efficiency.
Industrial engineering techniques can be used to unlock operational capabilities and to provide a foundation for sustained productivity levels. The 4 steps to improving productivity and maintaining these improvements are:
Adopting New Technology
As labour costs rise around the world, it is becoming increasingly critical that manufacturers take steps to improve their output per worker to stay competitive. Companies are finding that advances in robotics and other manufacturing automation technologies offer some of the best opportunities to dramatically improve productivity.
As robots become more affordable and easier to program the opportunity now exists for smaller manufacturers to utilise this technology and improve production. The introduction of collaborative Robots now enables humans and workers to work side by side and offers the flexibility to easily adjust to seasonal lines, or to a variation in co-packing lines.
Processes tend to grow and evolve over time without any real focus on efficiency or effectiveness. Delays and bottlenecks develop that hamper workflow, increase processing times and drive up costs.
Process optimisation helps companies to reduce operating costs, improve capacity and improve quality and service levels. Some of the overall benefits are:
- Elimination of non-value-added steps
- Improved workflow
- Increased productivity
- Reduced operating costs
It is important to provide staff with the proper training to achieve and sustain the productivity levels by which they are measured. Training and performance coaching help employees to achieve productivity quotas and to sustain these productivity levels over time. Proper training also provides companies with:
- Productivity and quality improvement
- Consistent results between staff and shifts
- Sustained performance
Engineered Labour Standards
Engineered labour standards are a scientific method of calculating fair and reasonable productivity quotas. Creating labour standards involves measuring multiple-variable work functions and using workload information and time studies to determine completion rates. Engineers conduct time studies with operators that perform their jobs every day.
This improves buy-in from the staff on the floor and incorporates actual work times rather than theoretical calculations. This method also ensures that the labour standards take into account specific work factors that are particular to each operation.
Some of the benefits of engineered labour standards are:
- Accurate productivity quotas
- Unbiased performance measurement
- Effective basis for productivity reporting
The productivity of an operation is made up of the collective productivity of each individual within that operation. Productivity reporting provides associates with quantifiable performance reporting and provides managers with invaluable data for managing an operation. Effective productivity reporting is a vital component to any productivity improvement initiative and is the foundation for sustaining productivity over time.
Productivity Tracking System
A productivity tracking system provides operational performance reporting across facilities / departments down to an individual staff level. A well developed system can provide operational charts and reports that are used for performance evaluations, incentives programs, and productivity monitoring. Some of the overall benefits are:
- Visibility of Operational Performance
- Quick Views by Facility, Department, Shift, Activity, etc.
- Improved Labour Scheduling
- More Effective Productivity Monitoring
Adopting new technology, process optimisation, training, engineered labour standards, and productivity reporting provide the keys to drastically increasing productivity levels and for sustaining these productivity levels over time. A 10-40% operational cost reduction is not only attainable but is common through the proper implementation of these solutions.