Inefficiency plagues the manufacturing industry. Statistics are studied and cited more now than at any other point in history. Plant managers and engineers spend their days gawking at facts and figures. However, it seems like many companies still don't know how to put together an actionable plan to correct problems they may have dealt with for years.

Companies that continue to struggle can use the following advice to improve their manufacturing processes and streamline how they do business. With the changing paradigm of work affecting every industry, no one should feel like they have to slavishly adhere to a specific step in 2019. Embracing new technologies and methodologies to change things up might better suit a specific use case and can be an excellent way to find a plan that will move things forward.

Companies that continue to struggle can use the following advice to improve their manufacturing processes and streamline how they do business

Having been involved with manufacturing technology for the past 40 years, and the fact that the industry I participate in is directly associated with the collection of process data, I have developed a list of five recommendations to improve manufacturing processes:

 1.    Leverage business intelligence data.

Information that is gathered in during processes provides a full tier of data that's known as manufacturing or business intelligence (BI). This can be used to improve an entire enterprise as well as the supply chain. Analytic software can compare sites and suppliers. It might then identify areas for improvement. Say that one installation runs a process more effectively than a second facility that uses the exact same process.

Examining data collected from both sites can help managers and technicians determine what's causing delays at the first plant. Enhanced data logging options can help operators collect the kind of data that BI packages rely on.

Those attempting to leverage this kind of information will certainly be concerned with its storage. For example, liquid flow meters can export data to connected USB devices or over RS-232 and Ethernet lines. This can ensure ready access to flow rates and timestamps that BI experts may wish to read over.

 2.    Use networking to connect supply chain links.

Global supply chains are difficult to keep track of. Enterprises that have dozens of facilities and suppliers across the globe may find it almost impossible to keep tabs on all them. By using even the most basic networking protocols, companies can ensure that operators and quality assurance (QA) inspectors can review information stored in a single database.

Firms that use simple cloud-based systems may find them to be the most flexible. These are often accessible from any kind of device due to their inherent platform-independence. Plants that are particularly concerned about using tools nearly anyone can access may wish to look into the live data-logging technology used on needed manufacturing equipment. This feature saves information to a Google Spreadsheet document, which allows employees to view it on any device that runs a modern browser.

 3.    Keep an eye on the waste bin.

Wasted material is one of the largest unnecessary expenses in today's economy. Due to an increased emphasis on conservation, it can also be a major PR problem if customers start to realize that a company is wasting a large amount of material. Examine each process to see which ones generate the most garbage, and see what can be done to reduce or eliminate this waste.

 4.    Never be afraid to identify problems.

While the previous tips focused on immediate changes that managers can put forth, this step might be more esoteric, even though it sounds obvious. True believers in the concept of business processes often describe problems as disconnects in a production chain. If too many links come undone, then the chain breaks down. Don't be afraid to admit when there's an issue and correct it right there. Take a moment to categorize the weaknesses of any firm into one of the following three levels:

• The business process itself

• Performance of individual employees

• An organizational structure that ties it all together

Once problems have been identified, they need to be documented and confronted. Waiting will simply make them worse and may lead to a costlier mistake.

5.    Implement a work order ticket system.

Analyzing problems only lets a manager know that something is wrong. Institute a system of issuing work orders so that employees who have issues can have them addressed as quickly as possible.

If an industrial scale needs to be replaced with a more modern digital system, then knowing this is only half the battle. Managers need to take initiative and have the resources to make changes as quickly as possible. If these kinds of tactical measures are not already in place, the problem will only worsen, as protocols and solutions can be timely endeavors.



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