Factories are the animals of the business world that really deserve to be lauded for their role. These beasts are large and are built to have many thousands of tons worth of storage space, they employee hundreds and hundreds of people, many different processes involving different professions amalgamate in and around them and they make sure businesses keep on flowing.
Yet, we can sometimes see them as simple, boring and prone to becoming stagnant when it comes to improvements.
Quite the contrary, factories of all kinds have been progressing and improving just like every other part of the business world.
They don’t get the attention they deserve from consumers because they are the stagehand that keeps the show running, but ultimately they stay behind the curtain.
A lack of speed in a factory will always equal to a loss of profits, even before the process of selling and distributing has begun. In fact, any other business practice comes to a grinding halt when you are not practically improving your factories.
Don’t Always Rely On WMS
If you haven’t already you need to buy a top of the line warehouse management system. They are part of a larger ERP i.e. enterprise resource planning.
This system also can be referred to as a supply chain executive suite. These systems are designed to help you with inventory management so you know what is in your warehouse, how much of it, when a new batch is coming in and how old or what kind of products you have.
However, more often than not these systems will come with efficient plans for employees to work with that are broad and generalized. What this means is that when employees are confronted with issues in picking, identifying mishaps, storing techniques and packing ready for distribution, they will be offered solutions that are not specific to their problems.
It should come as no surprise then that it’s recommended that you form your own efficiency plans. This means taking a good hard look at what is going on at ground level.
Devise plans for employees to identify objectives quicker, get to different parts of the warehouse quicker and complete their goals by using efficiency methods when it comes to sourcing items out of storage. For example, one way to improve their plan is to analyze what kind of items are picked the most and move them closer to where the majority of the staff members are located at the beginning of any task.
This is obviously going to be near the depot or managerial post at the foot of the warehouse where packaging is done. This eliminates the time it takes to travel around to the storage locations.
Ferrying to Workstations
Factories come in different types. Storage is by far the most common but manufacturing is a very close second. Many of the same processes and practices occur in both factory types but manufacturing is a lot more active.
This is simply because products are being made here, not just stored, packaged and delivered. It makes the pursuit of ultimate efficiency one of the most challenging if not the most challenging anywhere in business.
You’re mixing human beings with machines and trying to make sure proper fit, form, and finish are adhered to.
However, you know that with each little mistake, time is added on to the overall production line and not just an individual product.
One of the things you can do to make sure attention to detail is high and therefore fewer mistakes are likely to be made is to have multiple workstations for each part of the manufacturing process.
When people don’t have to juggle multiple things all at once, they can devote their skills to one part and make their contribution of a higher quality. But ferrying products from workstation to workstation is where time can be lost.
A conveyor belt is, therefore, something you should consider installing or upgrading in your factory. Look for a company that can supply you variable speed drives that can be controlled by your conveyor belt.
They will help to speed things along and also slow them down, so anytime there is a workstation outpacing another, the belt can be slowed to match the following workstation’s pace. This will also let you know which workstation is at fault and causing the line to slow down.
All the improvements cannot be made in the factory itself or by the employees themselves.
One of the things you need to take a serious look at is how supplies or products enter into your factory. This is called the inward supply chain whereby you need to manage the dock and the inbound supply chain better.
Make sure that you have compliance between your suppliers and yourself with regards to trucks and docking stations.
Life is made so much more difficult when different sized trucks turn up to unload at your factory, but cannot fit in the dock where your employees take what they need to off the truck. You then will have to slowly move the items onto pallets and then hydraulic lifts to get them inside.
Therefore make sure you are savvy on the importing guides and vendor policies regarding specifications and product packaging.
Focus on weight when it comes to incoming packages or products that will be ready to store.
Size is perhaps one option but some items will be taller than others so it’s best to have a weight standard that is regular. This will help with the unloading at the factory as workers know what are the safe levels and how to approach the offloading truck.
This will also help you to perhaps more than one dock open at any one time and allow multiple teams to work separately instead of being on hand to help the main team.
Speed doesn’t always equate to efficiency, but a lack of it will always equate to lost profits. Speeding up the processes in and around your factory, no matter if it’s for storage or manufacturing will greatly help your employees give you their best. In return, you have faster ways of reacting to almost any circumstance.