As we begin in 2021, our world is still majorly altered by the COVID-19 crisis. There is not one business that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, but one sector that has been more affected — both short and long term — than others is the manufacturing industry. Back in July, we explored what was next for manufacturers. Now that vaccines are here, we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It could still be another six months, however, before life is back to normal.
If 2020 taught us anything, though, it’s that we can expect the unexpected. While we can look forward to life returning to normal, we shouldn’t expect it to happen—not even in six months. The best thing to do, rather, is to form plans in preparation to be in this limbo that the COVID-19 crisis has created for just a little longer.
So what does that mean for manufacturers? As we begin a new year, now is a great time to reevaluate your manufacturing processes and programs to ensure that you are being as efficient as possible. Here are four initiative recommendations that will help you as you take a closer look at your current processes.
Eliminate waste where possible.
Waste can refer to excess materials, but it's more than that. It also refers to excess energy or hours, and eventually, expenses. Whether you’re talking about material waste or wasted labor, it can get quite expensive, and your goal should be to reduce waste (and costs) as much as possible.
How can you take measures to reduce waste? Reevaluate your overall design. Take a look and see if there are any parts of the process that are creating excessive waste. Recycling certain materials is an option, which turns your waste into profit. The key to getting rid of waste, though, is to optimize your processes so that every action is productive.
Remain organized and diligent.
Take a look around the factory floor. Are all necessary tools easy to locate? Is there waste that’s piling up in the corner? Are all workers where they are supposed to be? Every person or tool should have a home, and your teams should know where that is.
Organization is one of the key components to having more efficiency with your processes, at every step in the supply chain. It is an important aspect of operating a successful business. Everyone from executives to contractors, on-site or off, needs to have a detailed understanding of their role requirements, expectations, and where they fit into the organization.
Strengthen your supply base.
When reevaluating manufacturing strategies, it’s important to take a look at your vendors. Are there some that are continually providing you with high-quality tools or materials? Perhaps you want to reward them with more business. Finding reliable suppliers is essential to the supply chain process.
It’s also important to work with vendors that have a customer-first, solutions-oriented attitude, and who are quick to respond if you have any questions or if anything goes wrong.
Practice preventive maintenance.
One of the best procedures you can do for your manufacturing process is to move from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance, which can be difficult in the face of COVID-19. You want to take measures to maintain your machines before they give you any issues. A breakdown of equipment can cost you a lot of hours in downtime, and money, respectively. Preventive maintenance plans and procedures will take a lot less time than emergency repairs and replacements.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an interesting and difficult time for people in all industries, especially those in the supply chain. Manufacturers should continue to meet the increased demands and pressures that are being placed upon them, but they should also take hope in knowing the end of the pandemic is on the horizon. In the meantime, the best thing you can do as a manufacturer is to utilize this time to tighten up your processes as much as possible.
At Powers, we recognize the need for manufacturers and supply chain workers not only to respond quickly to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, but to also be prepared to normalize production when crises wane. Which is why we have implemented the Optimized Start-Up Program; a low-cost, high-value solution that enables your organization to deploy a small crew of industry trained experts and front-line leadership strategists to assist your team with an efficient and effective startup of new or existing production operations within your facility or factory.