Eight Strategies For Boosting Your Production Capacity
Even with continued economic uncertainty, throughout most of this year the manufacturing industry has flourished, and many manufacturers are straining to keep up with demand. At the same time, the pandemic reminded us how uncertain the economy can be, with many companies hesitant to invest in expanding their operations.
Related Read: Six Tips for Dealing With Rising Material Prices
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to increase your production capacity without committing to acquiring a larger facility. Here are eight ideas to consider.
- Measure Your Production Capacity
To identify the right strategies for achieving your desired levels of production, it is critical to measure your current production capacity. For example: Suppose your employees work eight hours per day running 10 machines that produce widgets, for a total of 80 machine hours per day. If it takes three minutes (0.05 hours) to make a widget, then your production capacity is 1,600 widgets per day (80 divided by 0.05). Armed with this information, you can evaluate your options for boosting your capacity. For instance, if you had your employees work 10 hours per day, you would increase your machine hours to 100 hours per day, enabling you to produce 2,000 widgets per day (100 divided by 0.05).
- Increase Employees’ Hours
One of the quickest ways to scale up your operations, particularly to meet short-term demand, is to ask your current employees to work longer hours. Doing so will likely result in overtime pay, a cost that you will need to weigh against the cost of hiring additional employees. Remember, hiring new people can be challenging, given the labor shortages many industries are facing today.
- Add Work Shifts
An effective way to add production capacity, assuming you can find the workers you need, is to implement a shift-based approach. Additional evening, night and even weekend shifts allow your equipment to run longer, even around the clock, providing a substantial capacity boost without the need for a major capital investment.
If your equipment is already running at peak capacity, consider outsourcing the manufacturing of a product or part to a contract manufacturer. While outsourcing may come at a premium price, in some cases contract manufacturers can manufacture a product or part more cheaply than you.
- Add Equipment
If space and budget constraints allow, consider purchasing or leasing new equipment to handle your excess capacity needs. This is a long-term strategy, but it involves a less significant investment than moving to a larger facility. However, if you are looking for a more scalable short-term solution, outsourcing may be your best bet.
- Make Current Equipment More Productive
Take advantage of techniques, such as predictive maintenance, to increase the output of your existing equipment. Rather than wait for equipment to break down before repairing or servicing it, predictive maintenance uses wireless sensors embedded in equipment to alert technicians that service will soon be needed. This minimizes downtime and lost productivity.
- Become More Tech Savvy
You can enhance the productivity of your current operations by leveraging technology. Cutting-edge technologies, such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, can enable you to do more without added human capital. In addition to boosting productivity and efficiency, these technologies can also improve quality and reduce costs. In addition, augmented reality technologies can make your workforce more effective and efficient. By overlaying digital imagery onto a worker’s physical surroundings, augmented reality helps streamline and improve a variety of complex manufacturing processes.
- Streamline Your Operations
Adopting lean manufacturing practices can enhance the productivity of your current operations. Lean manufacturing strives to improve efficiency, minimize waste and reduce lead times, enabling you to deliver more product. Be sure to balance these benefits against the potential disadvantages in the event of another economic downturn. Many manufacturers that had embraced lean techniques, such as just-in-time inventory management, found the approach to be a liability when the pandemic disrupted global supply chains. Have contingency plans in case of similar supply chain disruptions in the future.
Related Read: Why Some Manufacturers are “Reshoring” Their Operations
It is difficult to predict when another downturn will occur, so it is important to be flexible. Many of these eight strategies are scalable, allowing you to quickly adjust your production output up or down to keep pace with fluctuations in demand. Contact your ORBA advisor to discuss what is right for your situation.
Sidebar: Have You Optimized Your Plant Floor’s Layout?
Adjusting or redesigning the layout of your plant floor can be an effective way to enhance the production process. The right layout can improve productivity, quality and efficiency, while reducing costs.
Start by analyzing and evaluating your current workflows to identify opportunities to streamline processes. This may involve rearranging production equipment to accelerate the flow of materials and parts through the production process. Relocate shelving and storage spaces to provide employees with easier access to tools and materials.
If you have the room, adding mezzanine floors can be a great way to optimize the plant floor without the need to relocate. By taking advantage of overhead space that would otherwise be wasted, these floors allow you to add storage or office space while freeing up space on the plant floor to add equipment or rearrange assembly lines to improve efficiency.
For more information, contact Ken Tornheim at [email protected] or 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Manufacturing and Distribution Group.