No matter what size your business is currently at, you must continue to make improvements that will effectively increase your company’s productivity level while keeping costs down.
This will not only help boost your product output, but it will also increase your profitability. In order to maintain a smooth workflow within a metalworking shop, you need to perfect three key factors – equipment, employees, and processes.
Once you get all of the kinks ironed out in these three areas, then things will run smoothly and efficiently.
Our experts at Dake are here to offer our top ten tips on how to improve the productivity level in your shop.
1. Adopt Lean Manufacturing Principles
A very popular framework for an enhanced manufacturing process is known as Lean Manufacturing. This includes a system of principles to follow to ensure that your company is always performing at its best with as little waste as possible.
Key concepts to consider when learning about Lean Manufacturing Principles include the following:
• Workflow – Simplify procedures where possible, keep the machine floor organized, and have the right workers at the appropriate machines at precisely the right time.
• Company Culture – Ensure that every employee (no matter their level or ranking) is empowered and respected.
• Customer Value – Figure out what your customer wants and optimize your daily operations to meet these expectations.
2. Create a Realistic Timeline
Before you begin working on a new project or client order, sit down and plan out a realistic timeline. Everyone wants things done yesterday.
However, before you agree to a deadline that you cannot meet, consider your company’s limitations and applications. Falling behind on work or missing deadlines can cause your business' reputation to suffer.
Therefore, it is vital that you come up with a realistic goal, clearly communicate that goal to your staff, and foster a work environment that helps your employees feel empowered to meet that goal in a timely manner.
3. Update Your Processes
Once you have evaluated your company’s workflow, you will be able to quickly identify any issues that may be causing a bottleneck. If you have a project manager on your team, you should be sharing this information with them.
Together you can evaluate performances and decide on the appropriate route to take to remedy any issues. This could mean that you need to make changes on the floor such as rearranging equipment or reassigning employees to different machines.
This could also include making changes to the budget, updating the equipment with more advanced technology, or even updating your computer software to manage your schedules and books more efficiently.
4. Keep It Cool
One of the biggest expenses that any manufacturing company has is coolant. Although this greatly depends on what kind of machines you run, coolants can cost thousands of dollars.
You should be performing a routine check on how much coolant your machines need vs how much they are using. Keep an eye on waste here.
5. Keep Up with Maintenance
Ensure metalworking equipment are in tip top shape by keeping a regular maintenance schedule. Metalworking machines are key to the business so it makes economic sense to ensure that your equipment performs consistently and lasts longer.
On top of occasional repairs, a piece of metalworking equipment will need routine maintenance. We have several posts about machine maintenance for presses (part 1 and part 2) that may prove to be useful. To find out more about bandsaw maintenance, visit here.
6. Invest in Your People
The most valuable asset you have is people. Also, the more you invest into training your employees, the better they will be at their jobs. Here are a few tips to help your staff work better:
• Target all of the necessary documentation to the employees with the lowest skill levels. This will help them learn on the job as they continue to grow their skills set, and develop their expertise.
• Give your employees reviews quarterly or annually. This will allow you to see where they are thriving and what areas they could improve on.
• Cultivate a magnetic culture that keeps your employees happy. This will result in a much lower turnover rate.
• Finally, if you have the means, you should consider starting an apprenticeship. This will enable you to train employees from the beginning, and they will be more likely to stay with your company longer.
7. Upgrade the Floor Management System
If you don’t already have a software program that helps you manage the shop floor, then you need to get one ASAP. An integrated floor management system can make things so much easier.
A good program will do the following:
- Keep tabs on all client information including the first contact to final payment
- Aggregate data to help with decision making
- Allow administrative staff members to focus on other tasks
- Take over simple processes to avoid hiring extra employees
8. Stay Organized
Improper organization can lead to confusion, wasted labor hours, and low productivity levels. It’s important to keep your entire shop organized from the floor to storage to the offices.
Your metalworking machines should be arranged in an appropriate way to expedite the manufacturing process. Tools, parts, materials, and other items should also be properly stored and labeled.
Pro Tip: Use clear plastic containers to store smaller items. This will provide better visibility, and it will make finding things much easier.
9. Get a Vendor Management System
If you work with multiple vendors, then you should take the time to consolidate them into a cohesive system.
Using a vendor management system can help you cut down on the number of vendors that you need to keep in contact with. It can also help strengthen your best partnerships and cultivate long-lasting business relationships.
10. Promote Collaboration
Nothing helps to improve shop floor workflow more than collaboration. Encourage your employees to work together to achieve the same goals.
This will cut down on wasted labor, and also help build a more productive, efficient work environment.
Everyone will know and understand their part in the process, and they will be given the recognition they deserve for high individual and team productivity.
For more information on metalworking equipment, get in touch with Dake today.