Productivity has been widely discussed with the view that increased productivity is the key determinant of economic growth, but how can an SME manufacturing business increase their productivity levels on a day-to-day basis without the need for a company reform?
MGP has worked with over 2300 SME manufacturers since October 2016 to help support their growth ambitions while local Manufacturing Growth Managers have worked with them to increase their productivity levels, here are some of their top tips on how to implement productivity daily.
Develop a Productivity Mindset
This is key and will link into all manufacturing activity. A quote from Thomas Edison “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”
When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge, in and out of business, there are only 24 hours in a day, yet some people seem to have twice the time; they have an uncanny ability to get things done, they reach their goals without fail.
With the right approach, you can make each day an ultra-productive day, you don’t need to work longer or even do more – you just need to work smarter.
Productive people never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it or delete it.
Being organised results in less time wasted, by having a place for everything; from materials, to machine tools and documents more time is spent on work and less on trying to find what you need. Consider rearranging your manufacturing floor to create a smoother workflow to maximise efficiency.
Productive people end each day by preparing for the next. This practice accomplishes two things: it helps you solidify what you’ve accomplished today, and it ensures you’ll have a productive tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great way to end your workday.
Client expectations, pressures regarding production and strict deadlines can contribute to unrealistic goals. When workload benchmarks on the manufacturing floor are unattainable without some compromise to safety or quality, employees become dissatisfied, preventing the company from reaching labour goals. To boost worker efficiency, it’s important to set realistic, clearly defined objectives that ensure a combination of punctuality, high-quality output and safe procedures.
Encourage teams to collaborate and work together to understand the businesses goals and objectives, this will help employee expectations of what’s expected and will help management see if there are any gaps in productivity and support expectation management.
“Eating a frog” is the best antidote for procrastination, and ultra-productive people start each morning with this tasty treat. In other words, they do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on their to-do list before they do anything else. After that, they’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires them.
The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact. If you succumb to the tyranny of the urgent, you can find yourself going days, or even weeks, without touching the important stuff. Be willing to ignore or delegate the things that get in the way of real forward momentum.
Meetings are the biggest time waster there is. Ultra-productive people know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient.
No is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. Saying no to a new commitment honours your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfil them. Research has shown that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.
Multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Multitasking reduces efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
Don’t be afraid to go off grid when you need to. Give one trusted person a number to call in case of emergency, and let that person be your filter. Everything has to go through them, and anything they don’t clear has to wait. This strategy is a bulletproof way to complete high-priority projects.
Workflow challenges and business processes
The first step is to look at where the challenges are within the workflow. Consider using value mapping as an effective solution for identifying and monitoring projects for process improvement; this strategy enables managers to pinpoint issues and record how changes impact the overall system.
Share the workflow problems with project managers to develop improvement plans for the manufacturing process. This could mean re-assigning resources to different areas of the manufacturing floors, managing budgets or becoming ISO certified. Be sure to systematically evaluate performance and interpret any appropriate changes.
Development of staff
The manufacturing, machining and cutting industries are constantly changing, there’s always a new technology promising to make manufacturing floors more efficient than ever. Technological advancements often change the skills required for certain tasks, and workers will require access to regular training to keep up with more advanced specialist skills.
Encourage collaboration within your business. The manufacturing floor is most productive when everyone works together towards the same goal with as little waste and conflict as possible. While focusing on work is important, it’s also crucial to ensure that each staff member feels comfortable as part of a team. The better the members of your team can work together, the more they will encourage a productive workplace culture.
Ultra-productive people accept the fact that they’re not the only smart, talented person in their organization. They trust people to do their jobs so that they can focus on their own. Learn how to delegate to free more time to focus on what’s important.
Manufacturing is an industry in which an employee can only be as productive as his or her tools. While innovative machines, such as waterjet machines or CNC mills, can be costly in terms of initial setup and training, advanced equipment can have a positive long-term effect. Manufacturing companies often find that a machinery upgrade helps them stay competitive in a new and innovative market.
There’s a link between the costs associated with downtime and the time and budget invested into preventive measures. While new equipment can boost productivity, it also requires maintenance to ensure that it continues working at an optimum level. It is important that employees know how to troubleshoot instances of system downtime, to quickly find root causes of errors. Don’t be too quick to blame the tool for problems–remember to think about the process, the blueprint, the material and more.
Put technology to work
Technology catches a lot of flak for being a distraction, but it can also help you focus. Ultra-productive people put technology to work for them. Beyond setting up filters in their email accounts so that messages are sorted and prioritized as they come in, they use apps which can set up contingencies on your smart phone and alerts you when something important happens. This way, when your stock hits a certain price or you have an email from your best customer, you’ll know it. There’s no need to be constantly checking your phone for status updates.
If you would like to find out how your business can become more productive and implement any of the above with additional support from an external expert, contact your local Manufacturing Growth Manager by checking your business is eligible here.
Copyright © Economic Growth Solutions, 7th June 2018.