10 Must-Dos For Lean & Efficient Manufacturing

  • Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00

Manufacturing companies must operate as lean as possible to maintain profitability and a healthy bottom line. By Adam Grabowski, director of marketing, Global Shop Solutions

The world has never seen a more competitive and accessible marketplace. My role provides the unique opportunity to spend time with my customers, who are owners, presidents, and key personnel from over 25 countries and 20 industries.

I spend the majority of this precious time simply listening to what makes their businesses lean, efficient, and successful.

Different Business, Same Approach

What have I learned?

Whether the company is a project fabricator such as Arc Designs, an industrial manufacturer such as Miller Welding & Machine Company, a tool manufacturer such as Fullerton Tool, or a production/job shop like H&R Manufacturing and Supply, I have found 10 common “must do’s” that enable manufacturers to cut costs, operate in a lean and efficient manner, and maintain a commitment to excellence.

Here we go, and thank you for reading.

1.Increase Labour and Work Centre Productivity.

To compete against global competition and increasing labour cost, it is highly beneficial for your manufacturing operations to run efficiently. This doesn’t always mean less people; it means less wasteful minutes.

Speed up setup times, measure your employees and work centre performance, and reduce indirect labour and redtime. This is accomplished by leveraging real-time data on the shop floor with touch screen graphical user interfaces, bar coded work orders, and mobile devices. Know what your employees are doing as they are doing it.

2.Cut Cycle Time

Competing means having a short cycle time and compressing the time between the sequences in your manufacturing. Some companies have been able to cut cycle time by up to 50 percent by automating processes and leveraging flex schedules with their manufacturing software.

And since every company runs their business a little differently, automation requires a software package that can be customised through a software development kit such as Global Shop Solutions’ GAB SDK.

3.Automate Scheduling and On-Time Delivery

Manufacturing companies that turn the corner on efficiency mostly say the same thing, “We used to spend too much time on scheduling.” Lean manufacturers do it automatically, as it saves time and frees up your human capital to spend more time calling customers, creating new ideas, and proactively managing the business. And since every manufacturer has different processes, machines, and philosophies, the increased efficiency from automating your scheduling requires customisation.

4.Automated Purchasing

The most successful manufacturers I speak with rely on automated purchasing so they know when to buy parts and in what quantity. The guessing game disappears, and the manufacturer can spend most of their time improving price and delivery, decreasing inventory, and reducing obsolescence. Automation requires customisation. Do I sound like a broken mp3 file yet?

5.Quick and Accurate Quoting

The more jobs you can quote and the more accurate those quotes become, the more jobs you win. It’s that simple.

If you are an efficient manufacturer, winning jobs means profit and margin. The successful and efficient manufacturers I speak with take all the guessing out of the quoting process by using an automated system for pricing and quoting anything they are manufacturing. Again, since every business is different, the automation of your quoting requires customisation of your manufacturing software.

6.One Integrated System

Lean manufacturers manage the entire manufacturing process with a single integrated system that handles all aspects of their business from quote to cash. Data is entered into the system or captured by the system one time and one time only.

From engineering design automatically importing CAD models and drawings into ERP to Machine interfacing to your system, it all contributes to your efficiency toward a “smart-factory”. The information then becomes available, or is pushed to anyone in the company at any time, based on system security and permissions. The integrated system approach puts all employees on the same page at the same time with the same information.

As one customer put it, “You don’t order cable, Internet, and phone from three different companies when you can find one trusted partner that can do it all, and do it better.”

7.Improve Quality

It’s no doubt that quality plays a big role for your customer’s decision to buy your products. Whether you manufacture simple nuts and bolts or highly complex machinery, the ability to immediately know when quality issue arises and act swiftly contribute to better scheduling, lower cost of production, improve your overall efficiency and make your customer a “Happy Camper”.

Lean manufacturers use a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects. Every manufacturer is different, and the greater the degree of automation and paperless(ness), the more customisation you need from your business software.

8.Accurate Inventory

Inventory often represents a “black hole” for cash flow. The most efficient manufacturers protect cash flow by knowing their inventory. Moreover, they integrate their inventory with all the other processes so they can manage it in a highly efficient and effective manner. This requires a single integrated system (refer to point six!).

9.Delight Customers

Repeat orders happen when customers are serviced truthfully, quickly and accurately. When customers call or email to inquire about the status of an order, the last thing they want to hear is, “I will have to check on that.”

Lean manufacturers use a single integrated system and mobile CRM application to put all the information at the employee’s fingertips so they can instantly answer customer inquiries and resolve problems.

10.Constantly Measure Your Business Health

A fever is typically an indicator that your body is fighting an infection. If noticed early enough, you can limit the spread of infection and the impact to your day-to-day life. The healthy manufacturing customers I speak with all require the same awareness in their business. Each of them relies on a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard to get in front of money-making opportunities and money-draining challenges before they happen. Measuring your business health through KPIs enables decision makers to:

  • Practice evidence-based management
  • Predict future actions and results
  • Eliminate management by fire
  • Encourage changes in thinking and actions

APMEN Feature, Apr 2017

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