Tips for Boosting Manufacturing Process Efficiency

August 15, 2019

Work smarter instead of harder to improve your company’s manufacturing efficiency and productivity. You don’t need to cut corners to better your facility’s operations. Through some simple changes, you can gain productivity and reduce overall costs.

Importance of Efficiency in Manufacturing

When you boost your manufacturing efficiency, you do more than save time. Greater efficiency leads to less stress for your employees. Making your operations more efficient also increases your profits and can decrease waste.

1. Manufacturing Productivity vs. Efficiency

Productivity and efficiency relate to two different measurements of your processes. Improving both can help your company work better.

Productivity reflects on the number of goods produced, whereas efficiency reflects on the quality of production measured by input and output. Of course, you want your company to maximize productivity, but consider at what cost that will come. For example, if you increase production levels but also spend more per product to do so, you have become more productive and less efficient.

The trick to improving your manufacturing operations lies in balancing productivity with efficiency. In an ideal situation, you will find the perfect blend of using the least amount of resources and producing the highest number of goods.

2. Benefits of Improving Manufacturing Processes

When you improve your manufacturing efficiency, your company will enjoy multiple perks. By changing your operations with productivity and efficiency in mind, you can find room to grow your business.

Improving efficiency means minimizing the resources you need and the waste you produce. When you find ways to do more with less, you spend less money. You could reduce costs, increase profits, or use the same amount of money and resources to increase productivity.

More efficient operations mean your workers don’t need to exert as much effort to attain similar results. Without needing to push your employees, you can enjoy fewer sick days and accidents caused by worn-out workers.

Customers also benefit when you improve efficiency. You can lower the prices of your products, undercutting your competitors. Without compromising on quality, you get more customers who benefit from lower costs for their purchases.

If you have an eye on profits, improving efficiency will help increase your profit margins. When you spend less on production and earn the same amount of money, you will naturally see profits rise. Increasing your productivity as you decrease costs can have an even more drastic effect on your profit margins.

Tips for Improving Manufacturing Efficiency

If you want to boost the productivity of your manufacturing processes, identify areas for improvement and start making changes there. Here are some of the best ways to help improve your company’s operations.

1. Reduce Mistakes

Mistakes during the production process increase the amount of waste generated. Train employees to reduce their errors as much as possible. If needed, hire certified experts for skilled tasks around your facility. For instance, choose certified welders instead of those who do not have certification.

Consider fatigue when scheduling employees. Workers who consistently have shifts longer than 10 hours have a higher chance of injury on the job, especially toward the ends of their work time, compared to those who work fewer daily hours.

Allow workers to take breaks to reduce mistakes. Fatigue has a strong link to reduced productivity. As an employer, you may not be able to encourage your workers to sleep more at night, but you can offer them breaks to rest their mind and body for brief periods during the day. Fatigue is such a severe contributor to productivity loss that companies with 1,000 workers can lose $1 million each year to tired employees. Giving workers breaks won’t waste time. Instead, it can increase their productivity.

2. Train Workers

While you will want to train workers to reduce mistakes, you also want to teach them the best practices to improve productivity. Regular training gives you the chance to upgrade your workers’ methods to make their operations as efficient as possible.

Having regular meetings will ensure your workers know about the most recent changes in processes. You also can ask how well the workers adapted to recent changes. This type of discussion with workers plays an essential role in training.

During training, use the chance to get feedback from employees. They have the first-hand experience on the floor and know the best ways to reduce time. By having a conversation with your workers, you also help to improve morale among them.

3. Boost Employee Morale

Morale has more to do with productivity than you may think. Workers who feel they have a good balance between work and life can be more productive at work. Take Greece and Germany as examples. Workers in Greece average 42 hours each week, whereas Germans work only 28 hours, yet have 70% higher productivity.

Keeping your workers happy will also save your company money. The cost to train a new worker has a median value of 21% of the former employee’s salary. Losing one worker will cost you significant amounts to train a replacement.

One way to keep your workers may require you to get creative with scheduling. Companies with flexible work plans saw 89% employee retention rate increases. While you likely cannot offer complete flexibility, providing your workers with input into their schedules gives them the feeling of being more in control of their work-life balance and more supported by the company. Workers who felt support in their pursuit of a work-life balance were less likely than those without help to seek another job in the next two years.

Keeping your employees happy is an investment in your company. Treat their time as an essential commodity that you don’t want to overuse or abuse.

4. Use a Single-Source Supplier

If you must outsource certain operations, use a single-source supplier. Choosing a company that will work on your side projects from start to finish saves you time and effort in seeking contractors for each step of the process.

With a one-stop-shop, you will save money because you don’t need to pay for shipping between contractor facilities. Lead time drops when one company knows what you need from the final result. If you have multiple contractors or suppliers, you will need to communicate with each of them what you want, wasting time and increasing the chances of errors.

A turnkey solution for your contracting needs can also save you money and time by bundling services together. You will also get the same quality for every service you receive from a single company, like Fairlawn.

When dealing with suppliers, choose a single business to fulfill your orders. Doing so will save your company money, increase profit margins, reduce time and give you unparalleled service.

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5. Consider Investing in the Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will connect machines through all industries and in society. Manufacturers have already recognized the importance of investing in this technological revolution. When companies create their budgets, 73% devote at least 20% of their technology spending to big data analytics.

Big data analytics relies on taking information from sensors on facility equipment and using that data to evaluate efficiency, determine when to schedule maintenance and improve operations. You can use the information to reduce downtime by identifying when machines stop producing at their peak.

Connected devices communicate with each other in ways people cannot. One machine can do a step in the production process and let the next piece of equipment in the line know to slow down or speed up due to changes in production levels. This example is only one way the IIoT will change manufacturing for the future.

6. Conduct Predictive Maintenance

The time your workers spend repairing machines increases downtime for your facility and decreases productivity. Reducing the time you have to pull equipment from operations for fixing may require predictive maintenance.

Predictive maintenance involves more than changing oil and making regular inspections. These actions fall under preventative maintenance, which are chores done to prevent wear on the device. Predictive maintenance uses information about the machine’s efficiency gathered from sensors on the device. These evaluate when the machine reduces its productivity, alerting an operator to impending breakdown.

Another method of conducting predictive maintenance uses lower-tech while still relying on data. This method looks over information about machine repairs over the lifespan of the device and pulls the part for service just before it has historically needed fixing.

Using predictive maintenance reduces downtime caused by breakdowns by 70%. Since maintenance workers schedule the repairs, they can shop around for lower prices on replacement parts instead of purchasing the ones needed to fix a machine as soon as possible. By using predictive maintenance, total costs for care of your devices can drop by 30%, and you can save 12% over the cost of preventative maintenance.

7. Cut Energy Costs

Depending on the types of buildings you have, you could waste a lot of money on electricity. Since one part of increasing efficiency is to lower how much you spend to create your products, energy savings will improve your profits. Some energy savings efforts will boost your profits more than others, but every small change will add up to a large amount of return on your facility’s efficiency.

Industrial air compressors require a significant amount of electricity to operate. Unfortunately, these devices can work inefficiently if they have any size leak. Your compressor’s output may drop up to 30% if the system has holes. An air leak survey or ultrasonic detection equipment can help you find these leaks to fix. Though these problems cause significant energy waste, they often require simple repairs.

Whenever you upgrade equipment, seek the most energy-efficient options. In many instances, such machinery may cost more. However, it will save you more money on utility bills over time.

If you have a process heater, consider installing a waste heat recovery system that reuses the excess output. Saving money on your process heating costs will dramatically affect your energy costs since many companies spend one-third of their budgets on process heating. Investigate the feasibility of using alternative fuels for your process heater. Depending on your area and how much you use the heater, more efficient alternative fuels may save you money.

For lighting, replace light bulbs with energy-efficient models. Instead of incandescent, use LED or fluorescent lights. When possible, reduce your lighting needs by installing skylights to increase the amount of natural lighting in your facility that costs nothing to use. Install motion sensors on light switches in offices that will automatically shut off the lights when the room is empty. Also, encourage workers to turn off computers, lights and other electrical devices when they leave. Doing so could save you thousands in energy costs annually.

8. Consider Automation

Automating specific processes will protect your workers from excessive effort while improving productivity. Robots that can help with stocking or pulling products in a warehouse, packaging and piecing together parts can cut time dramatically.

If your facility has a specific process fraught with errors, consider turning that task over to a robot. While robots cannot adjust quickly to real-time changes, they can repeat the same motions multiple times correctly and without fatigue. Robots do not need breaks, and you can set them on their tasks all day, increasing productivity.

9. Reorganize Floor Design

The design of your facility can improve your productivity or cause problems. If you have multiple tortuous paths that weave blindly through shelving or large pieces of equipment, you could have workers getting lost, running into each other or not getting to their destinations promptly.

To solve these problems, you will need to clear out winding walkways. Rearrange your facility to minimize the number of steps your workers take. Also, optimize their jobs so they don’t have to walk from one end of the facility to another, as may frequently happen in warehouses.

If you have a factory line, use conveyor belts to bring parts to the workers instead of having your employees move across the floor to the pieces. Alternatively, you could try a twist on the traditional conveyor belt and have your workers ride a moving platform to the parts they need. While you don’t have to purchase innovative platforms, rearranging your factory floor for minimal employee movement will help improve your productivity.

Metal Contract Manufacturing Services From Fairlawn

In many cases, you will improve your manufacturing process efficiency by knowing which services to outsource. At Fairlawn, we have a full range of metalworking services including stamping, fabrication and welding. With so many capabilities in our facility, we can be your one-stop-shop for metal contracting.

If you want to find out more about our services or receive a quote, contact us online by filling out our simple form. With turnkey solutions like ours, you will save time and improve your own facility’s productivity.

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