When looking for ways to improve the profitability of a manufacturing facility it is important to look at the things you have the most control over. While it would be nice if you could just double the number of orders you have to fill, that is typically not going to be possible. What you can do, however, is look at how you can eliminate losses that eat away at the bottom line.
There are six major types of productivity losses that most manufacturing facilities experience. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate these losses, it is typically possible to take steps to reduce them quite significantly. When done properly, this can help ensure your facility operates more efficiently, which will have a very positive impact on the overall profitability of the company.
One of the most significant types of losses in a facility is going to be when a machine breakdown. This is a particularly big issue because it can essentially stop productivity for large areas of the floor. Work will get backed up, causing major delays. Machine breakdowns can also last for a fairly long period of time because the maintenance team has to come out, diagnose the issue and get it fixed. Depending on what is wrong, it is possible for the machine to be out of commission for an extended period of time.
In addition to the loss of productivity, breakdowns can be quite expensive to fix for many types of machines. The labor, parts and other costs associated with fixing a machine can add up quite quickly, resulting in a significant bill that needs to be paid.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of these issues from occurring:
Proper Maintenance – Keeping up on the regularly scheduled maintenance is absolutely critical when operating any type of manufacturing machinery.
Standard Use – Make sure all employees are following the established best practices for a given machine to ensure they don’t get damaged.
Clean Work Areas – Keeping foreign objects out of machines is essential, and keeping the workplace around the machine clean is a great step toward that goal.
Setup & Adjustments
Most manufacturing facilities can produce a huge volume of products as long as they can make the same thing over and over again. When it becomes necessary to switch over to making another product, however, the efficiency drops considerably.
First, you’ll need to stop work to make the necessary changes to the machines. You’ll also have to provide any training that is needed and generally change the way the work is done. All of this takes time and slows or stops the actual production of products.
Whenever possible, make sure you are making adjustments or switching production as few times as possible. Completing work in batches of products rather than finishing one customer’s full order at a time is a great way to do this. Depending on what you’re making, you can also create enough of one item to keep it in stock for future orders so you don’t have to stop and setup for it again.
Every time you need to stop production you are losing efficiency. Small stops can dramatically cut down on the number of parts or products you can produce in a shift, which is why it is so important that you eliminate these whenever possible.
Small stops can occur for many different reasons. Identifying the main causes in your facility can be very helpful.
For example, many manufacturing lines have lots of small stops because they find defective parts that need to be reworked or adjusted. Taking the time to discover why a machine is creating so many defective parts is well worth the effort because it will dramatically reduce the total number of small stops that are taking place on a given machine.
Of course, there are many other reasons why small stops occur. Understanding what they are and taking stops to avoid them is a great way to cut out this type of waste.
Whenever possible it is important to keep your lines moving at optimal efficiency. If you have to reduce the speed of production, you’re not going to be making as many products per hour, which naturally means you’re losing productivity.
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Reduced speed can have many different causes. If a particular line is short staffed for some reason, that can require that the production slow down. Another common cause of reduced operating speed is when different employees work a job in a different way. One of the work options is typically going to be significantly slower than the other, which will require a reduced speed.
Taking the time to analyze average work speeds and identify what is causing slowdowns is very important. Once discovered you can take steps to reduce or eliminate the work slowdowns in your facility, which will benefit the company’s bottom line.
For many companies the majority of defective products occur at or immediately after starting up a new product line. This is typically going to be because of all the changes that took place in what is being down and how it is being done.
These startup rejects, however, are a significant form of waste. They will either need to be discarded, reworked or sold at a discount. No matter what course you take, the company will be losing money on all of these rejects.
Startups are already going to cause a loss of productivity, but if you take a little extra time to make sure everything is ready to go before beginning the line, you can avoid the majority of the startup rejects that would otherwise take place.
Rejects that occur throughout the line are another significant form of loss in most manufacturing facilities. These rejects also need to be reworked, disposed of or sold at a discount. In addition, if there are too many of them on a given line, it will require a more in depth investigation into the root cause of the problem.
All of this will cause work to slow down or stop, which is a huge loss for the company. Whenever you have production rejects, however, it is going to be worth it to take the time to find out what is actually causing the issue so that a long term fix can be put in place. Even if this takes a little more time up front, the reduction in production rejects down the line will be well worth the effort.
Preventing Losses Whenever Possible
The above mentioned six big losses are some of the most significant issues that manufacturing facilities run into. While these may be the six biggest issues for many companies, they are certainly not the only problems that need to be considered.
After going through each of these six areas and finding where you can make improvements, continue on to identify other losses that exist within your facility. Having an ongoing look into all loss in your facility will help you to learn where problem areas exist and give you opportunities to eliminate them. Every time you can eliminate a loss you will be improving efficiency and overall profitability, which is the main goal of every manufacturing facility.