Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Even some small businesses rely on factories. If you are one of those small businesses, then it is in your best interests to ensure that your factory works as productively as possible. There are always places to improve and the list below has some good starting points.
Review How You’re Working
Before you can figure out where you’re going, you need to know where you are. Most factory operations, while “managed” when they first get up and running, grow organically. That is, they tend to fall into whatever’s most convenient. This is rarely what’s most productive! So take a look at how you’re currently doing things. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, or you’re too close to the factory to see things clearly, then you can hire an outside expert to take a look at things. You might be making some basic, fundamental errors that are easy to switch up, but you won’t know for sure until you take a look.
Your staff is the backbone of your factory operations and the better trained they are, the better the outcomes and output. This begins by making sure that you hire the best staff for your advertised positions. But even hiring the best won’t cut it: you need to provide them with the training they need to work to the highest level. Also, get feedback from your staff. They work on the shop floor all day, and will know things that you don’t know or can’t know.
Time is money and you should know what the price of every delay and slow down is to your bottom line. Sometimes, it’s as simple as your staff taking too long taking goods from point A to point B, and it’s not their fault. It’s could be that your factory isn’t set up to work so in a quick manner. You’ll want to have surfaces with casters, so your staff can quickly transport heavy goods from one place to another. It’ll also make sense to group your most commonly used items nearby to where they’re used. It might seem like it only saves a minute, but those minutes add up when spread over a year or more!
Automate Where You Can
You won’t want to automate too much, as there’s value in having workers on the shop floor. Indeed, in some cases, automation may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. But there will be some space for automation. It’s all about adding subtle automation processes to help the worker and save time. If done correctly, it could increase productivity.
A Clear Working Space
Finally, remember to keep things clear! Factories can be messy places, but there are a lot of benefits to keeping things clear. It’s much easier to work effectively when there’s no clutter around the place.