Despite all that occurred in the manufacturing industry over the last several decades, it is still a prime player in the U.S. economy. Currently, it comprises over 11% of the country’s total output. Plus, it employees nearly 9% of the American workforce.
What makes the manufacturing sector hum is companies with strong production lines. When an organization is unable to make this happen, the result is not only a reduction in revenue but also a decrease in employee satisfaction. This is why it’s critical to maintain strength on the plant floor. Here are a few recommendations on how to improve your production line.
A clean and safe plant floor is a necessity for several reasons. First, it’s regulated by state authorities as well as the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Second, a clean and safe production line represents an area that requires minimal maintenance.
The most important reason to increase safety is to protect your employees. Across all business areas, injuries on the plan floor rank at the top of the list. This results in more than lost productivity as you train a new worker. It causes potential losses due to worker’s compensation claims.
The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses devices that aren’t computers or mobile devices. On the production line, this is applied to any machine that operates through a form of coding. For instance, an automated CNC boring mill was found at a company like Absolute Machine.
What makes these devices part of the IoT is most are monitored through a computer or mobile application. For instance, if there’s a problem with a certain machine on the production line it alerts those responsible via a text message or email. In certain situations, it signals the rest of the line to pause while repairs are made.
A major culprit in production line difficulties is employee training. Though someone could be a subject matter expert (SME) on a certain machine, the device becomes inoperable if they go on vacation or leave the company. As a result, production is halted at a certain point as a new person is educated.
This situation is avoidable through cross-training. Here, the operating procedures are taught to all employees on the plant floor. While they won’t be SMEs, they end up knowing enough to take over should there be a need. Through this method, production line stoppages are reduced.
While you’d like to operate your production line at full speed on a 7/24/365 schedule it isn’t feasible. The result of constant use is the rapid degradation of the machinery. This results in unscheduled downtime as parts are replaced or the entire device is swapped out.
Avoid this and simultaneously improve your production line through scheduled downtimes. These are days or weeks where machines are maintained, tested, and potentially replaced with newer models. This form of downtime is also a good time to train plant employees on new processes and procedures for the production line.
Although this has been tough in a post-pandemic world, maintaining proper inventory levels is paramount to improve your production line. Not only must you have the necessary materials available but also the required parts to repair machines when necessary.
The best way to keep your inventory levels steady is to record everything in a Warehouse Maintenance System (WMS). This application keeps track of material needs through barcodes or QR labels. As items are removed they’re scanned into the WMS. Then, the system alerts the respective parties as to what’s required. In turn, production line slowdowns are reduced.
Computers aren’t the only devices infected by viruses or maliciously hacked. If your production line machines run on microprocessors, then they’re as susceptible to cybercriminals as a laptop. When this happens, your production line could be stopped for days as operating systems and coding are restored.
This is why security software updates are needed on these devices. Furthermore, the computers that regularly interact with these machines also require the newest versions of virus software and internal firewalls.
In the end, when you take the advice above to improve your production line you’ll see immediate results. So, implement these changes today.