While politicians and policy makers debate endlessly and make long-term predictions about the future of American manufacturing, the manufacturers themselves face the day-to-day challenge of keeping their firms competitive in a global marketplace. If you’re a small or mid-sized manufacturer doing what you can to stay a step ahead in a tight economy, how can you make sure your shop floor is helping you maximize revenue and control costs? Keep these productivity considerations in mind.
1. Staffing is key. Cutting edge machinery, just-in-time ordering, and the best back office management software in the world can only take you so far. No matter how technology may impact your research, development, and production processes, your most valuable capital will always be your human capital. Invest in training resources and hire the right people. Reach out for help when the need arises.
2. Step out in front of potential cost drains. If you don’t like your defect rates for a certain component, or you aren’t sure you trust one of your vendors to screen properly for counterfeit parts, don’t wait for a crisis before you act. Attack small problems before they become big ones.
3. Think in terms of growth. Wherever possible, raise your standards every year, don’t just level off when your margins are satisfactory. Good employees are invaluable, but it doesn’t take much to turn a staff of good employees into great ones. Examine your management philosophy and look for opportunities to excel. Fix things even if they aren’t broken.
4. Examine your approach to waste disposal. This is an often unexplored weak link in manufacturing productivity and efficiency. When was the last time you compared your recycling vendor with others in the marketplace in terms of cost and efficiency? If the answer is more than a year, start doing some research.
5. Make recommendations to your suppliers and strategic partners. Do you like how your raw materials are sourced? If not, don’t just accept low standards. Suggest solutions and apply pressure when necessary.
6. Improve your inventory management strategies. Does your ERP or back office management software provide functions for bi-directional lot tracking, recall management, order processing, and shipping? If you’re still handling these things by hand or relying on separate software platforms for each task, it’s probably time for a technology upgrade.
7. Don’t let positions stand empty. If you’ve been leaving positions open for machine operators or CNC programmers, stop waiting for lightning to strike. Take your staff search global if need be, but get these positions filled so you can move your company forward. In-house training can often compensate for incomplete skills sets, so stop nitpicking and take action. Hire, train, and move on.
Contact CSS today and arrange a consultation with our Little Rock staffing and small business management experts. Let us help you find the staff you need and keep your company ahead of the competition.