Regardless of industry, efficiency gains and increased speed provide a competitive edge. The ever-increasing competition in the manufacturing world makes it necessary to find new, efficient ways to speed up the process while remaining accurate and productive. While flying robots and miracle technologies may promise to reshape the industry, we still have a way to go until full automation, and thus the most important asset on the manufacturing floor in 2019 will remain its people.
In 2019, the focus will undoubtably be increasing efficiencies, and this can be achieved through investing in employees, equipping them with the proper techniques and tools. An invested labor force will limit mistakes on the manufacturing floor and improve throughput at every level of the process.
Here are a few best practices to increase efficiency on the manufacturing floor in 2019:
- Invest in your labor force – People are your greatest asset. Hiring and retaining hardworking and dedicated employees comes down to a positive and encouraging company culture. Each employee needs a voice, and to know there is growth potential. It’s no secret that the industry is in the midst of labor shortage, so finding creative ways to combat this and keep people on the floor is essential. Invest in quality training and mentorship programs so employees may develop a deeper connection to the company and obtain more refined skills to improve their performance.
Manufacturing can be a demanding job, so reducing physical stress on your employees is a great way to invest in their success, while getting the most out of them. Incorporating wellness programs and equipping them properly with tools, such as mobile workstations and paperless practices with ERP and MES software, will reduce physical exhaustion and stress that may result from the job. Happier employees mean more productive employees.
- Prioritize quality assurance – QA is a proactive process that reduces flaws in manufacturing operations. Implementing a strong QA process is essential to gaining efficiency on the manufacturing floor. Investing up front in QA in 2019 will add a level of efficiency and give any manufacturing process a leg up on competition. When planning for implementation its important to clearly define standards and set goals with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in an effort to measure the successes. Eliminating errors before they arise through QA implementation will add efficiency on the manufacturing floor in 2019.
- Improve labeling errors – Errors on the manufacturing floor are efficiency killers. Mislabeling, for example, can be an extremely costly mistake and brings the customer’s manufacturing process to a screeching halt. In the case of automotive, vendors need to sign into a contract with major automotive brands that carry extreme fines - $1,000 a minute in some cases - for mislabeling because it slows down or stops the manufacturing process. One way to reduce errors in finished goods is to remove fixed equipment that requires employees to walk back and forth from a computer or printer to the product being labeled. If an employee is labeling 50 to 100 finished parts at once, they’ll likely walk to a fixed printer to pick up reams of labels and then walk back to the task at hand. In that time, human nature creeps in and all the labels look the same, making it easy to mislabel. Making your equipment – computer, printer, scanner – mobile, will reduce steps, speed up completion of tasks and minimize errors.
Mobile-powered workstations enable labeling ANYWHERE on the manufacturing floor. Since the carts are mobile and carry all necessary equipment, labeling is always completed right where the parts are, and the need to walk back and forth to static equipment is eliminated. The reduced steps add a major level of efficiency and accuracy.
Technology is an asset within manufacturing and will continue to revolutionize the industry in years to come, but, in 2019 people will still be the driving force of a successful manufacturing process. Technology is meant to assist hardworking employees on the manufacturing floor to make them both more productive and more efficient. Efficiency gains should be made alongside employees, not by replacing them. Retaining great employees and supporting them with the equipment and services they need is a sure-fire way to make 2019 the most efficient and profitable one yet.
John O’Kelly is the founder and CEO for Newcastle Systems.
This article was first published on the January, 2019 Manufacturing.net blog.