We all know the old saying that time is money. It’s true, especially in the world of manufacturing. The more time you waste, the more it costs to make your products and the less profit your business has to take home. Likewise, the better you get at working efficiently, the better your profits will be.
What does this mean for your business? What can you do to improve the efficiency level of your processes? To help answer these questions, here are five tips for greater workplace efficiency.
1. Thoroughly Train Employees
Educated employees are more efficient employees. A lot of manufacturing inefficiencies come down to the same root problem: lack of understanding. Everyone in your company needs to know your products, from the assembly line to the boardroom. That’s why you need to take the time to thoroughly train all employees with hands-on education that ensures they are completing tasks as efficiently as possible.
2. Find Ways to Reduce Downtime
Every minute that your employees are standing around with nothing to do is a minute lost for productivity. Finding ways to minimize downtime is key to making the most of your resources. Here are a few ideas for getting started:
- Track Everything: Without proper planning and documentation, making decisions about efficiency will be tricky. Arm yourself with knowledge by tracking how much time is spent on each task and how much time is being wasted. Then, when you attempt to address those issues, track changes to see if downtime is reduced.
- Prioritize: List all the job tasks happening on the production line and analyze them to see what they’re actually accomplishing. Which repetitive tasks are addressing problems and which are addressing symptoms of bigger problems? Work to prioritize tasks in order of importance and communicate this to your staff so they know what to work on when task B is done, etc.
3. Automate Where Possible
Many parts of your business can be automated without sacrificing quality — like accounts payable, for example. If you use an e-commerce or inventory-control solution, you minimize the amount of man-hours going into the project. This goes for other areas of your company as well. Look around and see what processes could be automated to save time and money.
4. Minimize Hands-on Customer Service
Customer service matters in any industry, but you can still save your company the highly involved, highly costly procedures of sticking to all manual responses. Find ways to promote customer self-service, possibly through an online secure portal where simple questions can be answered without call-ins. Also, make product order status available online so clients can stay updated without needing to pull your staff away from their work.
5. Empower Managers
Delegate some of the efficiency improvement to your managers by giving them the tools they need to make real change. Make it so that when they find inefficiency or waste, they are able to do something about it without needing to go through extensive red tape. This speeds up the efficiency process and gets your managers involved in improving company operations, which benefits their work experience as well.
Do you think your manufacturing processes could benefit from these tips? Try them for yourself and see if your overall efficiency doesn't increase as a result.
About the Author
Chris Bekermeier is vice president of sales and marketing for PacMoore in Hammond, Ind. PacMoore is a contract manufacturer focused on processing dry ingredients for the food and pharmaceutical industries, with capabilities including blending, spray drying, repackaging, sifting and consumer packaging.