Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Content
Call Us Today! Experts now available 24/7.

How Small Manufacturers Can Make Facilities More Efficient

 Posted on: February 22nd, 2023

An employee at a manufacturing plant showing another how a machine works.

Manufacturing is a critical part of the economy, and small manufacturers must keep facilities running as efficiently as possible. Keeping your workflow streamlined can mean the difference between success and failure. Without efficient systems, businesses often struggle to achieve their goals while wasting valuable time, money, and resources. Fortunately, there are several steps that small manufacturers can take to make sure their facilities run efficiently.

Make Use of Your Entire Facility

Small manufacturers likely have a limited amount of space at their facility — but that doesn’t mean they should leave parts of the space unused. To maximize efficiency and make use of your entire facility, consider these ideas:

  • Change the facility's layout: Rearrange your workspace to promote better workflow and effectively use the whole area;
  • Invest in new equipment: Utilize commercial and utility products to take up any extra space, increase safety, and for the easier to transportation large items;
  • Install storage devices: Look into installing vertical racks, bulk bins, or other devices to easily store items that don’t fit in traditional shelves or cabinets. This can be especially helpful for companies struggling with shrinking storage options;
  • Make use of wall space: Install wall shelving, pegboard for tool storage, and even hooks to hang items like ladders;
  • Organize workspace: Declutter the workspace by organizing shelves and drawers so it’s easier to find and access items quickly.

For instance, if you're producing items with a 3D printer, consider using the wall space or other areas to store the material used for printing. This will help ensure no time is wasted looking for needed materials and can help boost your overall productivity. In addition, by utilizing the entire facility, manufacturers can maximize efficiency and get the most out of their resources.

Ensure Your Employees Know The Ins and Outs of Every Service and/or Product

Knowing the ins and outs of your services and products is essential for running a successful small manufacturing business. Additionally, understanding what it takes to market and sell your services will help create an efficient workplace. This knowledge allows employees to streamline processes, anticipate problems before they arise, and improve productivity.

For example, if a small manufacturing business specializes in custom-made products, personnel must understand the entire process from start to finish. They need to know what materials are required, how to source them, and any necessary production steps. This knowledge will help employees effectively manage customer expectations and ensure that orders are completed on time and within budget.

Cut Back on Manufacturing Waste

Cutting back on manufacturing waste is essential for a wide variety of reasons. Not only can it reduce costs, but it also helps promote a more efficient workplace.

Here are a few ways to keep waste at bay in the manufacturing setting:

  • Educate employees on the importance of reducing waste;
  • Invest in high-quality machinery and tools that limit wasteful output as much as possible;
  • Reduce packing material by using alternative methods like returnable packaging;
  • Set up a waste management system to help workers properly dispose of manufacturing scraps;
  • Consider recycling materials like plastic, cardboard, paper, and metal;
  • Reuse parts from old products or repurpose them into something new;
  • Implement policies to ensure proper storage and distribution of items;
  • Evaluate and adjust processes to make sure they're running smoothly;
  • Establish a preventative maintenance schedule to reduce downtime and save money.

Implementing these strategies can bring down overall levels of wastefulness and create an eco-friendly and efficient environment. For example, if you follow proper storage protocols, it will be easier to keep track of resources and ensure they are used most effectively. This also prevents materials from being needlessly wasted.

Ensure Tools and Machines Are Properly Maintained

Ensuring that tools and machines are properly maintained is key to creating an efficient manufacturing environment.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when maintaining these items:

  • Clean tools regularly and inspect them for any defects or wear and tear;
  • Schedule routine inspections of equipment by a professional service provider;
  • Check all user manuals for instructions on how to maintain any specific item;
  • Make sure employees understand the basics of operating any tools or machines;
  • Ensure all safety precautions are taken when working with these items;
  • Create a plan for unexpected repairs and make sure there is a backup option in place;
  • Perform regular maintenance checks on machinery, such as changing the oil and checking the engine.

Preventative steps will decrease downtime, reduce costs associated with emergency repairs, and ultimately result in enhanced productivity.

Reduce Employee Downtime

Having too much downtime in the workplace can have a negative effect on productivity. In fact, 82% of businesses have experienced unexpected downtime situations in the last three years, proving that having a proactive strategy to reduce it is more important than ever. Here are a few tips for cutting down on employee downtime:

  • Define clear expectations and provide support: Ensure that employees understand their roles, tasks, and responsibilities and provide them with the materials they need to do their jobs efficiently;
  • Set up systems for tracking performance: Identify areas where employees spend too much time and look for ways to streamline processes;
  • Develop processes to monitor employee engagement: Regularly check in with employees to ensure they’re focused and motivated;
  • Implement incentives for productive work: Offer rewards such as bonuses or recognition for meeting specific goals or completing projects quickly.

By implementing these strategies, manufacturers can reduce employee downtime and ultimately increase efficiency in the workplace. Overall, it's important to remember that reducing downtime is an ongoing process. It requires regular monitoring and adjustments to ensure that productivity remains high.

Improve Job Satisfaction

Improving job satisfaction is an integral part of running a successful business. Studies have shown that happier employees are more productive, resulting in improved morale and financial rewards for the company. Here are a few ways to boost employee satisfaction and create a more productive environment:

  • Create an accessible and inviting workplace: Invest in ergonomic furniture and tools, improve lighting and acoustics, and provide employees with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively;
  • Talk to employees about their jobs: Seek feedback and provide them with opportunities for career growth;
  • Offer flexible working hours: Allow employees to customize their schedules to better balance work and personal commitments;
  • Offer incentives for performance: Encourage employee engagement by offering rewards when goals are met, such as bonuses or recognition.

Employee satisfaction is more than just a nice perk; it’s integral for both employees and employers.

Implement Automation When Able

Manufacturing processes can be improved by implementing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies when possible. Here are a few digital tools that manufacturers should consider to streamline their daily operations:

  • Automated production scheduling software: This tool helps manufacturers keep track of orders and staff resources to optimize production schedules;
  • Quality control systems: These systems use AI to analyze data to identify potential product issues before they are shipped out;
  • Predictive maintenance software: This software uses AI to detect and diagnose problems before they occur, allowing for preventive maintenance measures to be implemented.

Additionally, AI can be used for even greater operational optimization, such as predicting customer demand or automating inventory management processes.

The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving, but with strategic planning and an open mind to new technologies, businesses of any size can remain competitive and profitable.