6 Ways to Increase Operational Efficiency

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Every manager wants their plant to function at peak performance.

They want to get as close to "perfect" as possible. But efficiency isn't a simple science, and many manufacturers find it difficult to reduce their unnecessary expenditure and improve productivity by a significant margin.

If you're searching for methods to increase the operational efficiency of your plant, this article will serve as an excellent reference when implementing future changes. Let's take a look at six ways you can streamline your organization to help it reach its full potential and make a substantial difference. With a few modifications, you can meet and exceed your goals.

1. Employee Monitoring

Productive employees make for a productive plant. Their commitment to the company and positive morale have an enormous effect on the efficiency of the floor, and you need to ensure that they're not just watching the clock. With workforce management technology, you can monitor their effort.

The collected data from machines and other assets like mobile devices will give a good indication of an employee's productivity. Programs like Zebra Technologies' Operational Visibility Service link to their workers' devices to ensure that they're active. You won't have to walk the floor nearly as often.

2. Manufacturing Execution Systems

The integration of a manufacturing execution system in your current practices can yield impressive results. A primary advantage of the system is its real-time feedback, which allows a manager to make corrections as soon as they notice a problem. This instant awareness aids in response time.

A manufacturing execution system also provides historical data. You have access to recorded quality issues, operator performance, reasons for downtime and other information that will assist you in making improvements. A system may even reveal patterns that you weren't previously aware of.

3. Preventative Maintenance

A proactive approach is far better than damage control. The last thing a manager needs is an unexpected malfunction that jeopardizes their schedule. Equipment failure could throw production off and cause serious issues down the line, so preventative maintenance is critical in sustaining efficiency.

An inattention to maintenance can prove expensive, and you can't afford to compromise in this area. Schedule routine inspections for your machinery if it sees frequent use. Considering that 98 percent of businesses lose upwards of $100,000 in a single hour of downtime, prevention is essential.

4. Employee Incentives and Goals

Studies have shown that incentive programs increase an employee's interest in their work. Given a goal, people raise their performance output by 27 percent. If it's within your budget to offer a prize — movie tickets to a recent release or a basket of food, for instance — you should make that small purchase.

It doesn't have to cost money. If an employee meets a certain quota, you can give them a parking spot close to the entrance of your plant. Even a hand-written note shows that you appreciate their hard work, motivating them to continue giving their best for the organization.

5. Automatic Refills and Re-Orders

Through modern technology that employs sensors, managers can asses their inventory in real time. They can maintain and manage their stock with radio frequency identification, which can trigger automatic refill and re-ordering at a certain level of consumption. It's a convenient timesaver. You only need to link your forklifts, pallets, equipment, smart shelves and smart totes together in a wireless network. It may require an investment in new technology and some time adjusting to an unfamiliar system, but once you've acclimated to the program, you'll notice an improvement.

6. Examination of an Underperforming Product

A manager will learn the weaknesses of their plant through an examination of an underperforming product line. As they pick apart the product's quality issues, they can trace them back to the source of the problem and work toward finding a solution. This solution even has the potential for application elsewhere.

If you notice a defect in a particular product, you might discover that defect in other areas of the plant. You should check your machinery to see if you can discern other issues, which you should then address. After you account for these flaws, you should inspect the quality of the product again.

It Isn't a Simple Science

That said, managers can still improve the operational efficiency of their plant with the six suggestions listed above. Whether you choose to implement a smaller change like an employee incentive program or a more significant modification like employee monitoring technology, you'll see a difference.

"Perfect" may seem impossible, but you can come pretty close.

Megan Nichols

(No biography information for Megan Nichols)


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