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SMEs: Five tips for optimizing production
SMEs: Five tips for optimizing production
Your company’s growth has been stable for several years. However, you’ve noticed that your profitability has diminished and that sometimes it’s hard to respond to sudden increases in demand. Here’s some advice on how you can motivate your production department.
1. Give more importance to technology
The next catalyst that is likely to drive your PME’s growth will be the fourth industrial revolution. Industry 4.0 uses automation and the digital revolution to drive high-performance manufacturing. For example, imagine that an alarm could alert you of an imminent breakdown or that your equipment could indicate that preventive maintenance was needed. Intelligent processes go hand in hand with savings in both time and money!
Whether you decide to set up a simple cloud-based solution or bring in artificial intelligence (AI), your SME’s longevity will definitely be secured through technology.
2. Install ERP software for better productivity between operational departments
Setting up enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is another example of how technology could optimize your manufacturing department. ERP is implemented using a database that is shared across your company’s departments and enables you to manage all of its processes. It is composed of several modules that manage ordering, inventories, sales and accounting.
Since all the information from these different departments is centralized, your purchase manager can quickly determine the amount of raw materials that need to be ordered for every product based on the established production plan. This is the kind of advantage that will help you avoid costly stock shortages!
3. Review all your processes to effect continuous improvement
If you stop innovating, you will always produce the same results. To make improvements, you need to change your tactics! It’s probably time for you to rethink your processes and consider how you can optimize your activities. The goal is to perfect your way of doing things: to reduce delays, operational costs, the number of mistakes and accidents at work, for example. Take a step back. Observe what goes on your SME’s production floor. What do you see? Here are a few measures you can take to help you start the process:
- Create a committee dedicated to continuous improvement.
- Encourage your employees to make suggestions for improving their daily work experience.
- Ensure the project is deployed across your organization.
- Have discussions with your customers and suppliers to discover better ways of doing things.
- Borrow the best practices used by other companies in your industry.
- Take a progressive approach rather than trying to change everything at once.
4. Evaluate the quality of your equipment
Is your equipment in good condition? Are its production abilities in line with your expectations? If not, do something! You’ll reduce the risk of costly mistakes and avoid workshop interruptions. It’s better to schedule some preventive maintenance than to continue to make do with outdated equipment!
On the other hand, before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in more equipment, ensure you have a good understanding of your current and future production needs. Could a different device do the job for less? Can the equipment be leased? Above and beyond the mere financial aspect—since money isn’t the only issue at stake—think about the productivity of the plant you’re trying to improve!
Sometimes it’s the little things that are worth their weight in gold. Simple ergonomic improvements to an assembly line can have repercussions not just on productivity, but also on your employees’ well being!
5. Put your human resources to work
Your work teams will be part of your solution for optimizing production. Motivated employees whose skills are regularly re-evaluated and updated will be able to contribute to changing your SME’s work culture. While the importance of continual training has been proven many times over, there is some work that still needs to be done in terms of communication. The whole company needs to be working towards the same goal. Employees at every level of the organization need to relay information about ongoing issues.
Is your goal to optimize production? Let it be known! Using a visual means of communicating your production plan to work teams is recommended. You could use giant screens in order to communicate your production order or your schedule of deadlines. Everyone will therefore be able to refer to it when needed (and your plant manager will appreciate having fewer questions to answer on the subject!).