According to the most recent report from the Institute for Supply Management, the manufacturing sector is doing quite well, along with the general U.S. economy.
The industry’s health indicator, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), rose to a healthy 54.7 percent in December – an increase of 1.5 percent in November. More importantly, for the 91st consecutive month, the overall economy grew, according to the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.
Generally speaking, things are looking up for manufacturers, but even when things are going well, missed opportunities can prove expensive.
As orders increase, efficiency becomes that much more important
Competing manufacturers tend to have in common similar equipment operated within the confines of certain structures. Whether a producer’s competition face increased orders at the same or different times, how increased demand is tackled can make all the difference.
It simply will not do to cut corners in the name of efficiency. Better ideas, execution, leadership, etc. is needed to take full advantage of a business’s spike in orders.
Steps that may be used to improve worker efficiencies include:
1. Get your company culture in alignment
The surest way to improve the efficiency of your employees is to foster a supportive and an accountability-driven environment. What happens when an irregularity occurs on an operator’s watch? Let your people know that suggestions for improvements are welcome, and that operators don’t have to hide problems for fear it will reflect poorly on them. Processes cannot undergo improvements without problems identified.
2. Redefine value from the customer’s point of view
As the main principle in Lean theory, the whole point is to increase value for the end user. Increasing financial investment is an easy fix, but spending money isn’t always necessary. Input from a manufacturer’s customer service, marketing or sales departments is a good place to start.
3. Co-opt technology to track and connect the supply chain
How is your information flow? What are you getting and not getting when you need data? Mobile and cloud-based devices connect the various stages of the supply chain so your people know what to anticipate and react in a timely manner. A central database gets operators, inspectors, management and more working together on the same page.
4. Identify and track actionable data
How, when and where were defective parts made? The ability to backtrack with a data trail will help manufacturers reduce recalls or warranty claims. For example, if there’s a defective part, quality software is available to help you identify the source of the problem, which may go all the way back to the supplier.
5. Improve your relationship with your freight partner(s)
As manufacturers know, transport is a major part of supply, distribution and the associated costs. How can you reduce expense? Are there other options that have a closer proximity to your business’s operations? Could it be time to relocate production and warehousing? Options, proximity and good faith in a business relationship can go far in saving freight expense.
Quality in the workforce is a state of mind for business leaders. While it’s easy to follow the well-worn path of “this is just how things are done,” it’s worth reviewing operations and how you may be able to better leverage valuable data.