Whether we’re setting a New Year’s resolution, trying a new hobby, or learning a new skill, we invest a lot of time in improving our personal lives. As we meet these goals and develop these abilities, we feel a sense of pride knowing that we’ve made a change for the better. The quest for continuous improvement is all around us. Are we extending that same mentality to the way we approach work?
Manufacturers have the opportunity to evaluate current operational and technical capabilities and implement meaningful changes that can transform process efficiency. Regular and purposeful introspection is the fundamental starting point for achieving this change. Here are four questions to start assessing your continuous improvement opportunities:
1. Is your manufacturing facility layout set up for optimal production flow to improve process efficiency?
When measuring your production throughput, do you consider the warehouse layout a critical factor impacting your optimal production flow? Optimizing your space will ensure every bit of square footage is utilized for your machinery, walkways between departments, inventory, and open working space. Sub-optimal use of space, whether underutilized or overutilized, can lead to production loss, injuries, and disorganization.
Ensure your space supports your production goals by:
- Assessing your facility space. Do you have a blueprint available to better understand your current layout and available space?
- Documenting the flow of goods as they move around the production floor. Are the goods passing through the same department twice? Is there a clear flow from the shipping department to the receiving department?
- Planning for the future of your business. Will you need to house more inventory? Are you planning to expand your machinery fleet in the future?
2. Are your people adequately trained to use your machinery for optimal performance?
Training employees is essential for any job, but it’s particularly important for those working with heavy machinery. Employees want to know how to safely and competently do their job to avoid injuries and meet established production goals. Effective training can lead to fewer mistakes, improved safety, faster performance speeds, and increased longevity of machinery equipment.
How can you design your job training to ensure that your employees are prepared? Begin by thinking about the best learning solutions for the content you need to train your employees. You can document written instructions, create engaging videos, set aside time for hands-on learning, offer group sessions, and as most employers do, you can establish on-the-job learning objectives. Each method – or a combination of these methods–can be equally effective when executed properly.