6 SECRETS FOR INCREASING MANUFACTURING PRODUCTIVITY
We’ve all seen it; everything suddenly grinds to a halt in the plant. A part goes missing, a machine breaks down, or workers procrastinate when they should be working. Eventually, production is disrupted, customers are disappointed, and income drops.
High productivity is the holy-grail of the manufacturing industry. When plants are productive, companies are able to produce more products, reduce prices, increase margins, and give staff higher wages. Ultimately, the levels of productivity are what make or break a manufacturing company.
So how do you get sky-high levels of productivity? Here are 6 tried-and-tested secrets that are sure to increase productivity:
1) EMBRACE COMPETITION
An unexpected observation relating to productivity is that many manufacturing businesses can become unproductive when they are not exposed to enough competition.
A report by the British government found that a historic lack of competition contributed to the UK’s relatively low productivity. The UK’s late entry to the European Economic Area (EEA) meant that British businesses were exposed to international competition at a much later point than their European counterparts, reducing their need for high productivity.
One way to expose your business to increased competition is to start exporting other countries. Your newfound competitors will have an advantage over your own company in their domestic market, forcing you to become more productive in order to compete. Competition doesn't hinder your business, it makes it stronger.
2) ENCOURAGE LEADERSHIP
Without effective leadership at every level of a manufacturing company, productivity will inevitably suffer. Despite the importance of leadership, many manufacturing companies take an attitude that leadership development naturally sorts itself out; In reality this is extremely unlikely.
To ensure that leadership is desired by employees, companies should raise the attention and significance given to leadership. These cultural changes should be complimented with mentoring schemes, which ensure current employers get a window into the roles and requirements of their leaders before they take on the role.
3) INCREASE INTEREST IN MANUFACTURING
Manufacturing is a broad field, with any area to suit your interest. It covers an almost uncountable number of products, including cars, food, textiles, electronics and more. It then comes as a surprise that many find manufacturing boring!
If employers want to attract the best and most productive employees, they first need to do some ground work of showing people how interesting a career in manufacturing could be. This starts with employers visiting schools, colleges and universities to showcase their field and inspire students.
Opportunities should also be available to do work experience and internships, to give people a taster of the industry.
4) BUILD TRAINING PATHWAYS
One of the most common complaints in British manufacturing is employees' lack of skills. It is easy for the industry to blame other organisations for problem, but ultimately this will not correct the problem. Manufacturing companies must now assume that they need to do the training, and have pathways and processes to develop skilled employees.
Traditional and often mentioned forms of training are still effective, with apprenticeships being one of the most successful ways of developing new talent. Apprentices’ contribution to productivity is also well documented, with an average positive net gain of £1,670 per year per employee in England.
5) ADOPT THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES
We live in a world of constant innovation, and manufacturing is no exception. The industry has seen a constant stream of new developments, including artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and 3D printing.
Although short-term these new technologies may be very expensive, in the long-term the machines will pay for themselves, as the competitive advantage will increase margins and drive up sales. Stay ahead of the pack by investing in new technology.
6) LOBBY FOR IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE
Many of the possible gains to productivity do not come through internal improvements to the business, but through external improvements to infrastructure.
Before the invention of the internet, all parts of the manufacturing process, including the design, production, and shipping happened, in the same location. In modern times, improved communication has led to each stage in the process being moved to distant locations. Fast internet connectivity is now an essential infrastructural requirement.
Despite the improved communications, most deals and negotiations still happen face to face. Suppliers and buyers may need to negotiate prices, or staff in based in distant locations may need to technical discussions. Reliable transport networks are therefore still vital for manufacturing businesses.
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