Industry Trends

How to Improve Productivity in Manufacturing

productivity in manufacturing

In order to compete in a global economy, manufacturing leaders must constantly work to improve their organization’s productivity. This depends on a combination of efficient processes, equipment and employees.

To help managers create and facilitate a better plant floor, we’ve compiled four best practices for improving manufacturing productivity.

Organize with 5S standards.

In order to improve productivity in manufacturing, managers must start by analyzing their plant’s organizational practices through 5S standards. 5S — which stands for sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain — is a well-respected method for creating and maintaining an organized workplace. It is a systematic and methodical approach that allows teams to organize their workplace in the safest and most efficient manner.

  • Sort: Manufacturers should remove all unnecessary tools and supplies from the workplace.
  • Set in order: All remaining tools should be stored in a specific place.
  • Shine: Work spaces should be constantly cleaned as work is performed.
  • Standardize: These cleaning processes should be used as a constant method.
  • Sustain: Management and employees should continually work to improve 5S practices.

Not only will following these steps help the plant’s organization, but they’ll improve performance in productivity, quality and morale — all leading to increased profitability.

Create a lean workflow.

Another key element of manufacturing productivity is creating an efficient process — which comes down to eliminating waste through lean manufacturing. To understand where they can improve, manufacturing managers must take a look at their existing workflow and identify any weak points.

Steps they should follow:

  • Identify the process. It may seem obvious, but many managers make assumptions about how their plant’s work gets done, without actually confirming if the day-to-day tasks mirror the proper procedures.
  • Eliminating waste. Once managers understand what their process should look like, they can pinpoint which parts don’t match up or directly create value. Workflow should then be improved to eliminate wasted time, inventory, machinery and resources.
  • Track improvements. A transition to lean manufacturing won’t happen overnight. In order to test which changes are working (and which aren’t), managers must collect data and track any changes. This will help eliminate errors and continuously improve as the process evolves.

improve productivity

Adopt mobility.

Eighty-one percent of CEOs consider mobile technologies a strategically important part of their business. This makes sense, since mobile manufacturing apps reduce time, maximize budget and reduce or completely eliminate human error.

  • On-the-go problem solving: With mobile technologies at their fingertips, manufacturers can address issues as soon as they’re detected. Various manufacturing apps exist to help employees communicate with sales teams and customers, identify emerging equipment issues when away from the floor and reference trending information found and used by the industry’s leaders.
  • Logistics management: Between overseeing employees, running a business and overseeing third-party suppliers, manufacturing managers have a lot to keep track of. Mobile apps that schedule employee shifts, track supply chains and manage inventory eliminate the possibility of human error, resulting in a more efficient workplace.  
  • Safety standards: Depending on the industry, manufacturers have to deal with a variety of different health and safety standards. Chemical compliance apps replace data sheets with a full mobile chemical inventory and food safety apps provide real-time reporting across all sectors.

Encourage collaboration.

Manufacturing floors are most productive when every employee is working together to create an effective team. If employees are encouraged to collaborate, they will be more proactive about voicing their own ideas to help with efficiency.

When an employee does offer a worthwhile creative idea, they should be rewarded, no matter their level. Managers should offer their employees verbal recognition in company communications and consider something more tangible, such as monetary bonuses.

How do you improve productivity in your manufacturing plant? What are some of the best practices you follow? We’d love to hear! Let us know on Twitter @AppleRubber.