If you’re managing the manufacturing floor, the pressure is always on to raise efficiency, increase productivity and lower downtime. And any hiccup in production can reflect badly on you, especially if it could have been prevented. Focusing on the following tips can help you create a safe and highly productive manufacturing floor.
Prevent Disruption with Preventive Maintenance
When one machine stops working, the entire production line stops working. Keeping your machines properly oiled, filters cleaned and coolant full is important, but regular inspections could reveal other problems that, if left untended, could lead to damaged machinery that could cost you in terms of both money and time lost.
For example, if one of your manufacturing machines relies on a turning shaft, make sure any keys and keyways that connect the shaft and bushing conform to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) tolerances. A key that’s too tight or too loose can lead to machine failure and work stoppage.
You should also be prepared for problems with replacement parts. For instance, if a key breaks unexpectedly and you don’t have spare key stock available for a quick repair, you might as well send the workers home.
Get Suppliers on your Side
Another reason work could stop is if you run out of raw materials. Don’t let other companies’ problems become yours: Have a frank talk with your suppliers about what schedule they can feasibly maintain. Can they keep up with your needs? Would a new electronic inventory and ordering system keep the supplies coming in on schedule?
Remember that your Employees are People
Machines only work as well as their operators. Employees need to understand and value their role in the overall process. Unhappy employees who don’t feel they have a personal stake in their work won’t be concerned about much beyond keeping their jobs.
Have regular conversations with the people you manage and ask for recommendations on how to improve processes. The people “in the trenches” might see problems or solutions you don’t. Also listen to their ideas about how to make the workplace more pleasant and personally fulfilling.
Remember, too, that many tasks in manufacturing are repetitive, which can lead to all sorts of physical problems. Find ways to avoid these problems so you don’t lose days of work while they recover. A focus on ergonomics could increase comfort and lower the number of days lost to sickness.
Take a look at how inventory is stored and accessed. If employees must constantly pull down supplies from overhead, back, shoulder, neck and head injuries — either from falling objects or repetitive strain — should be a big concern. Optimize your workspace for efficiency and safety.
As manager of a production floor, you are responsible not only for output but for employee safety and contentment. A happy employee is a productive employee, so be careful not to neglect people as individuals in pursuit of higher output.
As you look for ways to raise productivity, stay open to new ideas from both inside and outside the company. Although switching to a new ordering system, establishing a new workflow or offering employees a new perk may be difficult to implement — especially if you have to get buy-in from higher-ups — if it’s the right thing to do to keep your employees happy and productive, don’t give up! The end result could just make you a company-wide star.