Efficiency is the name of the game in manufacturing. You cannot succeed if you can’t produce more goods with less loss. After all, the holy text of all things efficiency, Lean manufacturing, came from the industry it’s named after. So, if you want to get into the business, you’re going to have to learn how to get the best use out of every resource.
Let’s start with the aspect of the business even more important than the machines on the factory floor. Manufacturing is known to be a demanding and sometimes low-pay job. This means that unless you make the extra effort to keep employees engaged and happy with their workplace, there’s a lot of potential for them to start looking toward greener pastures. Showing them support, particularly in highlighting paths to further training and progression, is the best way to do that. In particular, there’s always new tech, like automated machining tools, that need trained individuals operating them. Update your employees as you update your tech and you’ll see a more motivated workforce causing fewer mistakes.
Of course, you can’t talk about efficiency in manufacturing without talking about the machines. The most common and fiercest of foes you have to watch out for is downtime. Training machine operators in on-the-job maintenance and creating a thorough schedule of investigation for each piece of equipment is just the start. It’s a good idea to check each machine you get, as they come with lists with parts most likely to fail first. Getting a direct line to parts suppliers and fitters like Pirtek can then help you deal with any potential downtime issues in advance. Having a replacement part at the ready will help you get equipment running all the sooner. Of course, you should be keeping track of instances of downtime and their causes as a matter of finding ways to prevent those most common, too.
Downtime isn’t the only loss of time you can expect in manufacturing, either. More often, it might come from the planning end of things. You need to take a closer look at the production plans before you implement them, looking out for issues like bottlenecks where all work stops because you rely on only one tool for many jobs. In that instance, it could be well worth simply investing in another of the same machine.
Good use of inventory means seeing more of it turning into the end product with as little loss as possible. However, it also means looking at the realities of demand. Not only is a problem to lack the resources you need because you underestimated demand. Overestimating or buying in bulk a can be as much of a problem. The more excess inventory you have, the more you spend on creating controlled environments where said inventory is kept safe as it goes broadly unused.
Identifying loss isn’t always as easy as spotting when a machine is broken. It’s also about looking at business practices that are broken. Workloads that lead to bottlenecks, disenfranchised employees leading to mistakes, and a lack of equipment planning leading to downtime are all serious risks of loss, too.