The importance of manufacturing productivity lies in its impact on overall operational performance, competitiveness, and profitability.
Manufacturing productivity refers to the efficiency and output of a manufacturing process in relation to the resources invested, such as labour, time, energy, and materials. It is a measure of how effectively a factory or production facility converts inputs into outputs, typically measured by the quantity and quality of goods produced within a given time frame.
In summary, manufacturing productivity is a key performance indicator that influences the financial success, competitiveness, and sustainability of manufacturing operations.
In this article, we ask some key questions that look to provide the answers to increasing manufacturing productivity and how to overcome potential roadblocks that can prevent these solutions from being implemented. Finally, we take a brief look at some of the top causes of lost manufacturing productivity and the benefits of removing them from the factory floor.
What can manufacturers do to improve productivity?
Manufacturers can take several steps to increase productivity. One key approach is investing in technology and automation to streamline processes. This can reduce manual labour, minimise errors, and speed up production. Continuous training for employees is also crucial to ensure they're adept with the latest tools and techniques.
Efficient supply chain management, waste reduction, and sustainable practices contribute to overall productivity. Regularly evaluating and optimising workflows, as well as fostering a positive work environment, can make a significant difference too.
How do you ensure staff members culturally adopt new technology in their daily work?
Ensuring cultural adoption of new technology involves a mix of communication, training, and creating a supportive environment. Firstly, clearly communicate the benefits of the technology, emphasising how it can make their jobs easier or more interesting. Offer comprehensive training programs, making sure employees feel confident and competent with the new tools.
Encourage a culture of continuous improvement, learning and adaptability. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable experimenting with the technology and sharing their experiences and insights. Recognise and reward those who embrace and excel in using the new tools.
Additionally, involve employees in the decision-making process when implementing new technology. This gives them a sense of ownership and helps in overcoming resistance. Address concerns and provide ongoing support, whether it's through the solution provider, your own IT support team or external user communities.
Addressing privacy concerns is crucial, especially when introducing new technology in the workplace. To alleviate fears, transparent communication is key. Clearly explain how the technology works, what data is being collected, and how it will be used. Emphasise that the primary goal is to enhance efficiency and not to intrude on personal privacy.
Ultimately, integrating new technology successfully is not just about the tools themselves but creating a cultural shift that values innovation and embraces change.
What manufacturing technology can be easily implemented to monitor my machine's productivity, and where should I start to look for solutions?
There are various manufacturing technologies available to monitor machine productivity. Start by exploring Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Industrial of Things (IoT) solutions. These systems can provide real-time data on machine performance, downtime, and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Look for solutions that offer easy integration with your existing machinery and systems. Cloud-based solutions can provide flexibility and accessibility, allowing you to monitor production remotely.
Consider reaching out to industry-specific trade shows, conferences, or associations to discover the latest technologies and connect with suppliers.
Depending on your business's appetite for risk, when it comes to factory digitisation, look for a supplier that provides pilot programs or provides a way to start with just a few machines before implementing them on a larger scale.
Don't forget to involve your team in the decision-making process to ensure the chosen technology aligns with your specific needs and workflow.
Working closely with machine operators when implementing new technology enables them to understand why the technology is there, how it makes their life easier and how it feeds into the overall business objectives.
My factory has different types of machines, what machine monitoring solutions are available to monitor all of them?
A versatile IoT machine monitoring platform can provide valuable insights into the performance of your machines across the board. Look for a solution that supports a wide range of machinery and is compatible with different manufacturing processes.
Consider platforms that offer user-friendly interfaces for easy navigation and interpretation of data. Cloud-based solutions can provide real-time monitoring and accessibility from various locations, which can be beneficial for overall management.
Tom Westley, Operations Director at Westley Plastics explains how FourJaw’s machine monitoring platform has given the leading cast-nylon and plastic components manufacturer greater visibility of its manufacturing process, leading to improved cycle times, and more consistent and efficient 24/7 production.
What’s the biggest and quickest benefit machine monitoring can offer my factory?
Often seen as a challenge, but most definitely an opportunity once understood, is knowing what and where the top causes of machine downtime occur in your manufacturing operations.
Solutions such as IoT-based, plug-and-play machine monitoring platforms can provide almost instant insight into the top causes of machine downtime. Being able to identify and address the top causes is crucial to overcome production challenges and unlock capacity and efficiency opportunities in a factory.
Identifying and addressing the top causes of machine downtime is crucial for increasing capacity and efficiency in a factory. Here are some common causes of downtime and potential solutions:
- Cause: Regular wear and tear or lack of maintenance.
- Solution: Implement a proactive maintenance schedule, conduct regular equipment inspections, and replace parts before they fail.
- Cause: Unexpected issues that require immediate attention.
- Solution: Enhance predictive maintenance using IoT sensors and analytics to anticipate potential failures and address them before they lead to downtime.
Changeovers and Setups:
- Cause: Time-consuming changeovers between product runs.
- Solution: Streamline changeover processes, invest in quick-change tooling, and provide training to reduce setup times.
- Cause: Running out of materials required for production.
- Solution: Implement effective inventory management systems, work closely with suppliers, and establish backup sources for critical materials.
- Cause: Production halts due to quality control problems.
- Solution: Enhance quality control processes, implement real-time monitoring systems, and invest in employee training.
Lack of Operator Training:
- Cause: Inefficient operation and troubleshooting by machine operators.
- Solution: Provide regular training for operators, create detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs), and cross-train employees for multiple machines.
In summary, why I should invest in technology to improve manufacturing productivity in my factory?
In essence, investing in technology to minimise machine downtime is an investment in the long-term success, efficiency, and competitiveness of your manufacturing operation. It not only addresses immediate concerns but also positions your factory for sustained growth, greater competitive advantage, improved sustainability and profitability. Here are our top ten reasons why you should invest in digitising your factory:
- Increased Productivity: Minimising downtime means more time in production, leading to higher output and increased overall productivity.
- Cost Savings: Proactive maintenance and predictive analytics can help prevent costly breakdowns, reducing the need for emergency repairs and minimising production losses.
- Improved Efficiency: Technology allows for real-time monitoring of machine performance, enabling quick identification and resolution of issues, thus improving overall operational efficiency.
- Enhanced Quality Control: Continuous monitoring and data analysis can contribute to better quality control, ensuring that products meet or exceed quality standards.
- Optimised Resource Utilisation: With reduced downtime, resources such as labour, energy, and materials are utilised more efficiently, contributing to cost savings.
- Competitive Advantage: A technologically advanced and efficient manufacturing process can give your company a competitive edge in the market, attracting customers who value reliability and timely delivery.
- Employee Satisfaction: Empowering employees with modern technology and streamlined processes can lead to improved job satisfaction, as they can focus on meaningful tasks rather than dealing with frequent breakdowns and downtime.
- Adaptability to Market Changes: Technology allows for flexibility and adaptability in production processes, making it easier to respond to changing market demands and customer requirements.
- Informed Insight-Driven Decision-Making: Utilising data insight from machine monitoring technologies enables informed decision-making, helping you identify patterns, optimise processes, and plan for future improvements.
- Sustainability: Optimising production processes through technology can contribute to sustainable practices by reducing waste, energy consumption, and environmental impact.
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