Four Strategies to Increase Labor and Equipment Productivity in Manufacturing

Image credit: SYSPRO.

Manufacturing in the 21st century is becoming more competitive than ever with margins tightening. Companies in this sector must now take a hard look at their efficiency and productivity and re-evaluate the use of known technologies and consider new, relatively unproven technologies to introduce competitive advantage into their organizations.

Manufacturers need a complete reimagining of how to meet customer demands and expectations by transforming their core business operations. Significant changes are underway in the traditional workshop, making it faster, more automated and more connected. Some manufacturers have realized that building the digital backbone their business needs will reach new levels of productivity that will drive growth and profitability, but how do they go about it?

Four ways to improve factory productivity

Creating a digitally connected smart factory provides manufacturers with the ability to simultaneously monitor and analyze multiple factory variables, including machine, people, and process performance. This allows them to find previously undetected issues and identify strategies for making improvements. Here are four easy ways to improve plant productivity.

1. Measure and analyze labor and machine costs by shift, product or operator

It’s easy for costs to spiral out of control in a manufacturing or distribution business – money and time can be wasted with redundant processes, too much manual labor and piles of paperwork. Spending days or even weeks trying to sift through spreadsheets will not be a good use of time to be able to compete in a rapidly changing global market.

2. Identify unnecessary downtime and help reduce bottlenecks

Downtime can have a very deep and lasting impact on bottom lines and can even drive manufacturers out of business. Often downtimes are caused by bottlenecks, so identifying them is the first step. Many bottlenecks have similar root causes, such as underperformance of staff, problems with a machine, supply chain issues, poor raw material planning, or poor ergonomics or layout of machines in the factory. When a bottleneck slows everything down, it can lead to delays and lead to increased production costs.

3. Measure product quality and highlight problematic machines or labor issues

It is important to enforce world-class manufacturing standards within the factory by measuring the efficiency and performance of equipment and labor. Ultimately, this leads to higher quality products that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. What is needed is a detailed analysis of individual equipment and people’s performance with supporting data, including audit trails and a record of problems encountered.

4. Measure operational effectiveness and highlight areas needing attention

Over the years, manufacturers have continued to pursue operational efficiency, even though significant improvement would require a fundamental shift in their business model. Some manufacturers have implemented programs such as Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and focused on improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) with the same goal of streamlining the manufacturing process and increase production.

While TPM is an equipment maintenance model that strives to use everyone to maintain the plant, it also aims to achieve perfect production without breakdowns, slow running, or any other machine-related issues that affect the debit. OEE is a metric that measures the quality of machine utilization (uptime), machine speed (speed) and production quality. The OEE supports TPM-based initiatives by measuring progress towards “perfect production”.

The role of a mother

Using a manufacturing operations management (MOM) solution will help manufacturers continuously improve their productivity and processes while aiming for best-in-class standards. Most importantly, a MOM solution provides a holistic view of manufacturing operations.

MOM helps organizations generate accurate production schedules that take into account capacity constraints such as people, machines, tooling as well as materials and can help identify production lines that need to be rescheduled to meet demand. changes in customer demand, balancing available capacity. The result is improved delivery to customers on time and in full.

In anticipation of such a shift, manufacturers should also start fostering a culture that sees data as an asset for better decision-making. With a central database provided by an ERP system integrated with a MOM system, manufacturers can begin to accelerate their transition to a smart factory.

Therefore, they will be able to collect real-time production data, allowing manufacturers to optimize their production activities from product creation to final production. Manufacturers who want to gain visibility and control over their shop floor execution and quality should consider implementing MOM to take advantage of the capabilities provided by their ERP.

The process of digitizing a manufacturing operation will allow manufacturers to develop entirely new product categories, creating new alternatives for customers, while staying ahead of existing and new competitors. Those who deploy a MOM can ensure that they are making the best use of their available capacity to deliver to customers faster and in the most cost-effective way while reducing production costs.

By Rob Stummer, CEO Asia Pacific at SYSPRO.