4 Keys to Improving Manufacturing Productivity

In the world of manufacturing, productivity and output are everything. If you can find a way to consistently increase output, you’re never going to struggle. You’ll have business opportunities at every turn of your career. The question is, what are your best options for doing so?

Try These Productivity Boosting Techniques

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for improving manufacturing productivity. There are, however, plenty of proven principles and tactics that are known to generate results over time. The more you lean into the following techniques, the better your results will be.

1. Review Existing Inputs

Everything starts with reviewing your existing processes and workflows to understand where things currently stand. This is your baseline. With this in mind, you can set goals and initiate very specific tweaks or changes. We recommend paying especially close attention to:

  • People. It’s not just about having the right people. You also need to focus on having the right people in the right places. If you have an employee in a position that they aren’t excelling in, ask yourself why that’s the case. You either need to move them to another position, let them go, or equip them with the right skills to be successful in the role they’re currently in.
  • Processes. Manufacturing is all about process. If there’s an issue with productivity or output, it almost always comes back to poor processes. Use value stream mapping to assess opportunities for process improvement. Identify bottlenecks and be ruthless in your elimination of friction.
  • Equipment. Finally, consider the equipment and technology being used. Does equipment need to be updated, repaired, or replaced? An upfront investment might be expensive, but it could produce long-term savings in the form of greater efficiency.

These are the three categories of inputs that impact your manufacturing productivity the most. If you can improve in each of these areas, good things will happen for your business.

2. Update Your Technology

One of the easiest ways to improve manufacturing productivity is by updating or adding technology. The lowest-hanging fruit is manufacturing inventory management software.

With manufacturing inventory management software, you can track raw materials, supplies, equipment, and parts in real-time. This produces faster lead times, more output, faster delivery times, and more satisfied customers.

3. Invest in Preventive Maintenance

You have to commit to scheduled maintenance. A failure to do so will seriously hamstring your business and prevent you from being as productive as you can be.

As ConstructConnect explains, “The fastest way to slow things down is by ignoring regular maintenance. Downtime for maintenance costs much less than downtime due to broken and worn equipment. Maintenance can be scheduled; breakage always comes at the worst possible time.”

Preventive maintenance ensures potential problems are addressed before they become serious issues that could hurt your productivity and output. It also gives you control over when maintenance is performed (as opposed to always being at the mercy of untimely breakdowns).

4. Implement Better Training

While so much of the focus is on equipment, software, and technology these days, the reality is that people still play a key role in manufacturing productivity. Whether they’re on the ground floor of your facility doing the manufacturing, or they’re in an office using computer software to optimize processes, people play a critical role. And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that a skilled workforce is a productive one.

Always look for opportunities to upskill your employees. Work on developing them as professionals and people. Cross-train when you can and continually invest in the development of both technical skills and soft skills.

Employee training should be done multiple times per year on an ongoing basis – not just when you’re onboarding a new employee. This will improve efficiency, reduce turnover, and allow you to get more out of each member of your team.

Patient Yet Proactive

The key to improving manufacturing productivity is to be patient yet proactive. In other words, you have to take the necessary steps to put your business in a place to increase output and become more efficient, but you have to patiently wait for the results to follow.

You aren’t going to double your productivity overnight. In fact, you’d be lucky to increase productivity by even five or 10 percent over the course of a week. But if you continue to put in the work over time, you’ll eventually reach your goals.