Successive government ministers have delivered speeches telling our manufacturers they must become ‘more innovative’ and ‘evolve’; however, when it comes to incentives and suggestions, there is little of substance.
Nevertheless, there are six general areas in which manufacturers can often achieve long-term improvements. Here are our first three suggestions.
Terms such as ‘operational excellence’, ‘lean manufacturing’, ‘process management’ and ‘six sigma’ have almost become clichés; however, at heart they all advocate the same thing – monitoring the efficiency of how you work in fine detail. Many British firms still don’t use logistics software to devise the travel paths of engineers, for example, or job-tracking software to ensure all jobs are completed on time. Firms that don’t realise their value lose time, money, customers and reputation.
Similarly, managers and sales personnel who jot down customer details on post-it notes inevitably lose opportunities to strike up valuable relationships. CRM software does not have to be expensive.
By fitting wireless sensors and reporting procedures throughout your manufacturing line, you can monitor productivity targets and the stock levels of vital parts and materials. Automated re-ordering ensures you eliminate needless downtime without tying up capital and space by stockpiling more supplies than necessary.
This Japanese word means encouraging everyone connected to your enterprise to adopt a culture of continuous improvement. Instead of designing new products in limbo, ask your customers what they want and ask your workforce what changes they suggest.
Waste is an obvious area in which to apply kaizen. Ideally there should not be any waste, so consider redesigning your products to minimise or eliminate it completely. Changes to product design can optimise the opportunities to recycle or reuse components at the end of a product’s lifecycle, in some cases delivering decisive long-term cost improvements. Make your supply chain a supply circle.
Waste can also be eliminated by replacing specialised products with versatile ones. An example is metal bonding adhesive from specialists such as http://www.ct1ltd.com/product-applications/metal-to-metal-adhesive/, which is also effective for many other materials.
Develop an innovation culture
This does not mean sitting down and trying to dream up new ideas. The key word here is ‘culture’ – it means providing opportunities, procedures, and rewards for every worker, and even suppliers and customers, to participate in the transformation of the business. Ensure they all have access to the resources and support they need.
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