5 easy steps to make your production line more efficient
by Robin Travis, Director of Renby Ltd, UK
Renby Ltd is the UK"s leading provider of fogging systems, tubular drag conveyors and odour neutralisation. With over 45 years" worth of experience, Renby"s background is in heavy bulk materials handling and dust suppression in the quarry, recycling, food and minerals processing industries.
Manufacturing over the years has become a highly refined process. Whether you are producing complex computer technology or constructing simple equipment on a large scale, there are techniques and technology that have been developed to help improve the process. In this piece, bulk materials handling experts Renby Ltd outline 5 easy steps you can take to make your production or assembly line more efficient.
1) Evaluate the line
This should be your first port of call. Understanding how your production line currently works is necessary before you can start changing the way you work in any drastic way. Even the largest and most experienced manufacturers mismanage orders or processes from time to time. However, it is important to gain as much information on how your production line works and ask yourself some questions.
What areas are highly efficient?
Which areas are not?
How often do sections of the line break down?
It is worth investing some time into evaluating your weaknesses so that you can accurately address them.
In single, large systems a failure at any point in the line can cause a production bottleneck and repercussions further down the line. Therefore, keeping a system running effectively requires a large amount of coordination between all the line"s parts.
2) Visible work instructions
If your production line includes any human assembly or human interaction, printing out work instructions is a great quick win. It may sound simple but many employers either disregard or forget to provide visual cues for their staff on a production line. It ensures that people who were not involved in the designing of the product can easily participate in assembly.
3) Standardisation of work
This is often a common theme of highly productive manufacturing environments. Ensuring that many of your employees are trained or understand the basics of how other parts of the production line work can greatly improve your efficiency.
This does not mean that they must be experts in the highly-skilled areas of the factory; however, if there is an emergency or breakdown of the production line, having someone on site who can step in to keep the line moving is invaluable. This standardisation of your work can mean the time spend where the production line is not profitable is greatly reduced, resulting in possibly thousands of pounds being saved.
4) Effective automation
Replacing manpower with a machine is not always the wisest choice. The automation must be effective for your production line to be efficient. As an employer you want a return on investment, therefore you need to make sure each machine doesn"t need constant supervision or maintenance. This will free your staff up to perform value-adding work that cannot be carried out by a machine.
The value in your workforce is the people – their reasoning, logic and decision-making. The automation should complement this and make sure they are free to maximise their potential and increase productivity in your manufacturing environment.
5) Be Supportive
Finally, education and communication for your business is a sound investment to deliver long-term, lasting efficiency from your employees. It is important to help your team solve problems, answer their questions, share your expertise and motivate them to deliver exceptional results.
Your mission as an employer is to help them fully harness their skills, abilities and potential.
Ultimately, your goal is to create a habit of actively seeking out small wins that add up over time. Incremental gains that will make your production line more efficient.
It is worth remembering that before you make any of these changes ask yourself how much a solution is going to cost you. For example, a new multimillion-pound piece of machinery might improve your production line"s efficiency, but could the problem be solved by a cheaper alternative? Is this increased efficiency giving you enough ROI? Don"t use precious capital until you"re forced to and make sure your actions are real and deliverable.