When you began your foray into manufacturing, the first few weeks and months were exciting. You spent your whole time asking people for money, usually friends and family, and worrying about the competition. Then you begin having conversations with suppliers themselves and all of a sudden it hit you. What you are doing is real.
Now, though, you’re well beyond the startup stage. You’ve invested an enormous amount of time, effort, and money into making your manufacturing business work. But is it working as well as it could? Or is the culture wrong? Check out these tips.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, manufacturing was the most innovative sector when it came to company organization. For the first time ever, the division of labor was taken to its logical conclusion. Each person on the factory floor had a role that they had to fulfill. And they had to do it over and over again, to the point where they became extremely proficient. But fast forward to the modern world, and this is no longer the case. Companies aren’t experimenting with their internal organization like they used to. And this is holding them back, preventing them from becoming more dynamic.
Mark Hefic is an expert on manufacturing. He says that companies need to have a change in their mindset. Innovation isn’t going to come from doing the same things over and over again. Companies need to go through a cultural shift if they are going to accomplish their goals. This means that businesses need to start showing the courage to collaborate on projects across departments. They also need to be able to track employee performance. Manufacturers must find new ways to incentivise their colleagues and reward excellence. And, finally, they need to find new ways to monitor production status with Factbird. In other words, they need to invest far more in innovative, data-driven solutions. Only through changing the mindset of an organization will innovation occur.
“Lean” is perhaps the biggest buzzword in the whole of manufacturing. Many companies talk the talk. But do they walk the walk? According to Art Ford, they don’t. He likens going lean to a team sport. It requires the coordination and cooperation of all the players to make it successful. And it requires celebration at the end when the team achieves a victory.
He lays out five things that companies need in order to be lean. They need to have a mission that clearly states to everybody what it is that they’re trying to achieve. They need data, to discover whether they are getting nearer to their goals. They need short term waypoints, marking out the road to success. They need to master the basics, ensuring that their businesses run smoothly. And they need to celebrate their victories, no matter how small they may seem at the time.
Thanks to hierarchical structures when we’re growing up, like, in school, we get a skewed picture of what a manager’s role should be. Most people think a manager is there to be their boss and tell them what to do. But Hefin has a more nuanced opinion. He says that the manager is simply there to facilitate work. It’s up to the manager to prove their value to their employees by helping them be productive and get more done. In other words, managers are a service employed by the workers.
It’s an interesting take that departs from our usual conception. Hefin appears to be saying that managers need to be accountable to employees. Managers should see their role as removing the obstacles to their workers doing a great job. The more management nurtures enthusiasm among workers, the more they’ll produce. The more they produce, the more profitable the company will be.
Management that cares about the safety of staff does an enormous amount to increase morale. Manufacturing is dangerous work, so keeping employees safe is a top priority.
Evidence from manufacturers shows that employees like the process of making their working areas safe. Employees like to clean and tidy their desks and enjoy input from management.
The key to a great culture of safety is to get employees and management working together. Employees need to be actively involved with coming up with new safety protocols. It should be the employees who drive safety in the workplace, but management from on high all the time. This way, you start to develop mutual respect between employees and managers. When it comes to safety, everybody should be on the same page.