Internal issues that many manufacturing companies face, often surround the idea that companies know the problems that lie in front of them, but they do not necessarily understand the root cause. More importantly, they often do not know the crucial next steps in order to rectify and grow beyond these issues. In past blogs, we’ve addressed this as an important factor in recognizing that a serious change needs to occur, but this article will attempt to dig deeper to understand whether or not your current point (manual) or automated solution is standing the test of time.
Whether or not you are currently using a market known ERP, home grown solution or manual process, there are a few indicative signs that should tip you off that there are problems in your company. First, and usually most obvious, are verbal complaints, suggestions, comments, etc. by your workforce. Your workforce, if committed to the success of your business, makes these statements because it will only lead to improvements throughout the business. They are typically the first people to get an inkling of any issue. Some may seem insignificant, while others will warrant a serious look. Keep in mind though that even those that seem trivial could lead to positive returns for your company. Ask them questions and involve them in discussions to get an in-depth look at their concerns. Sometimes, your shop-floor workers have the most direct insights. Next, you may believe your company is well organized, but if you feel like stacks of paper are beginning to pile up or you have 5 different spreadsheets for one job and you are having issues connecting all the dots, this might be the start of larger issues. Look at the traces and follow the tree back to its roots to eliminate any missing links. This is just a start.
Employee complaints and organizational issues are a couple of underlying examples that might lead to your #1 problem: late deliveries and labor inefficiencies. This, in turn, would lead to the next obvious factor (and any company’s biggest): customer complaints. Whether the bottlenecks are derived from material shortages, labor constraints, or some other issue you now have an outline from which to analyze and interpret. For example, shop floor control issues could lead to inefficient labor use (employees not being used to full capacity at some points, while having to do overtime at other points when bottlenecks appear, thus increasing costs).
Whatever the major or minor fundamental problems are, approaching them head on and up front is a smart plan of attack. Don’t sit back and wait for things to unfold or “fix themselves”. Also, just because you’ve always done things a certain way does not mean your methods are a contributing factors. If you need help there are industry experts you can call that would be well worth any investment to provide positive returns on the back end. Be active within your own company, engage your employees and stay educated in the industry as much as possible.Posted by Jason Rourke, Marketing Manager, ProfitKey International