Quality Equipment & Training Are Key To Manufacturing Success
There is no more beautiful sight than a manufacturing process surging forward at a steady pace, cranking out quality products efficiently and safely. And there are few things quite as destructive to a company as when that process is interrupted.
Down time in manufacturing is typically due to a problem in one of two areas: Equipment failure and human error. Equipment failures are typically due to poor quality or a lack of maintenance, while human issues usually stem from lack of training or workplace injuries.
Avoiding these expensive shutdowns is easiest when those two areas are addressed. Here's a basic guide to doing so.
Starting With Quality Equipment
No matter what steps you take to provide the best options for your facility, they are wasted if you are trying to put out your product using low-quality equipment. Machinery built from cheap materials will inevitably experience breakdowns, make product errors, and injure workers in a combination that will pull money directly from the bottom line.
This is the area where AJ Weller has found its market niche. The company provides high-quality metal alloys for industrial applications. The resulting parts are utilized in the heaviest-wear areas, reinforcing critical joints, friction points, and structural elements to maintain the machine's integrity and functionality for longer than traditional steel.
It's at this level that the differentiation is made. Equipment can look identical with the "eyeball test", and there's no doubt that certain manufacturers will be cheaper.
That's when your purchasing personnel needs to dig deeper. Inquire about assembly methods, material types, and finishes. Get a complete picture of what you can truly expect in terms of reliability, durability, and safety.
Sustaining Quality Training
The first personnel hired are usually trained very well. The equipment is new, there is a large number of people who need to be trained, and the process is typically very formal and very thorough. It's often completed before the facility even goes into operation.
Then a worker quits, another gets promoted, and a few new faces are brought in. By this point, the manufacturing process is going full-speed. There is no time to shut it down to train a small group, so they just pick up their knowledge piecemeal from those working beside them.
Over time, things are adjusted and tweaked. Something breaks down and a shadetree mechanic rigs a solution that other workers don't know. Then a few more new people are hired.
Before long, there's a staff of people with a dozen different lengths of tenure, a total lack of familiarity about jobs beyond their own, and the very real potential for accidents, damaged inputs, and faulty products.
Keeping training sharp and comprehensive is critical to making sure that the workforce is at the top of its game at all times.
Tying It All Together
Too many businesses focus on the immediate actions needed to keep money flowing. While it's true that production must be kept up at all times--that's what this whole article is about, after all--there needs to be built-in down time.
The distinction there is that it's built in. Plans can be made for things that are built in. There's no disruption to distribution or production, because dates are set based on keeping that time period blocked out.
The goals for those times are simple. Review equipment. Make sure that everyone knows everything about how to operate it, maintain it, and repair it. Cross-training is a great way to minimize down time, so get people involved in other phases of the process than the ones they've traditionally done. Not only can they step up and fill in elsewhere, they'll be more understanding of problems experienced elsewhere on the line and will be more helpful in resolving them.
"Down time" is a dirty word in business. It represents everything that you don't want--idle workers, backlogged orders, interrupted supply use, and much more, all of it leading to a negative financial impact.
Prevention is key. Equipment must be chosen, operated, and maintained properly, and personnel need thorough training on all parts of the operation. When this harmony exists, the potential for costly down time is drastically reduced.