Production mistakes are costly time-drains, but avoidable with a little bit of thinking ahead. Make sure that you aren’t making any of these five errors that will hurt your plant’s profitability and reputation.
1. Missing the first wave of technological advancements
We’re not talking robots taking over. This will not be a Blade Runner-level replacement of your workforce (a recent study says only five percent of jobs in the current marketplace can be completely automated), but rather helpful robots that make jobs easier, quicker, and less labor-intensive.
Fewer worker’s comp claims = more productivity on your line
When your workers rely on automation to perform tasks that create or compound repetitive stress injuries, your line is happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive.
Efficient processes that can be easily replicated
Even your most dependable shift lead can’t produce the exact same results every time the way that a robotic application does. Use the available technology to create consistent finishing.
Swiftly turn around production
For large-scale production, robotic applications like deburring can create an incredible ROI. Learn more about robotic and manual deburring processes.
The question is not why, but how and how soon to implement robotic applications.
- Specific applications
Know which parts of your process can be improved by automation. Start where you will see quality, consistency, or time improvements. Have specific reasons and goals with each process improvement. For example, robotic braze finishing is implemented to finish the braze seams faster with more consistency on car roof joints. Automating this process reduces the need for retouch work and provides a paintable finish with one action.
Fiscal investment and workforce training are the two major hurdles to implementing robotic applications. Don’t let those stop you because you can rest assured that the ROI in time and money will be well worth it.
Start the plans to integrate robotic applications today. Being ahead of the curve will save you adjustment time down the road and ensures that you and your team are prepared for upkeep of robotic applications.
- Innovation waits for no one
Don’t be the sort of company that missed the Ford assembly line revolution. The cutting edge is forged by trailblazers who create the vision for those who follow.
2. Not knowing your weakest link
We’ve all had the gut-sinking moment when we realize that we’ve overlooked an essential piece of the production and it’s going to cost us. A lot. Avoid that feeling by understanding the root cause of common production delays and downfalls before they happen.
- Be that manager
Be the plant manager who is on top of it all – constantly checking, analyzing processes, and making everything runs more smoothly. With a winning personality, of course.
- Use process analysis to root out the bottleneck. Flow Constraint Analysis, Effective Utilization Analysis, and Quick Effective Utilization Analysis are three of the process analysis methods recommended by Robotics and Computer Integrated Manufacturing in this 2017 study.
While you won’t be able to avoid mistakes altogether, being proactive in monitoring common pitfalls will keep you one step ahead of game.
3. Forgetting human resources
On the other hand, you can’t be too hard of the team. The key is a leadership style that elevates your team. Process, production time, and morale can all be improved with a little effort and investment in your people.
Here are three easy ways to start making your plant a place that people are excited to be part of:
- Notice and reward your best managers
- Make sure every single person knows the bigger picture
- Be the kind of leader your team wants to emulate
You set the tone for everyone. If you take leadership of the environment you will start to see big improvements in morale, productivity, and commitment to the vision that positively affects your bottom line.
4. Neglecting post-fix assessments
This is easier said than done. Once the weight of the bottleneck is off of your back and the time spent fixing it has passed, it is so tempting to move forward and say finito.
However, to prevent recurrences and ensure that your processes and people continue to perform at an optimal level it is critical to conduct a post-fix assessment.
You’ll want to track:
- What was the root cause?
- Who or what needs training and adjustment?
- What did we get right?
Making the proper assessment of your people and processes is a key advantage that many well-intentioned plant managers neglect. Keep on this one to stay ahead of the game and ensure that costly mistakes don’t repeat and eat away at your profit margins.
5. Aiming for a Zero Defective Rate
Aiming for zero defects seems like the ultimate goal in any manufacturing plant, not least of all automobile production. Unfortunately it is a mistake that will hurt your bottom line.
Here’s why it doesn’t work:
- You’re equally distracted by minor and major defects. An attitude of “all defects are equally bad” ignores that different defects have variable probabilities of impacting the finished product
- It makes everyone antsy and therefore less likely to report failures and discuss potential improvements
- Continuous Improvement is the ultimate goal. Aiming for zero sounds great at a board meeting, but in the day to day operations of the plant you need to get down to the nitty-gritty details of making minor course corrections to great success
Keep your eye on continuous improvement metrics to move one sigma closer to perfect.