Tips for Optimizing Manufacturing

Alena Barreca

A poorly organized factory layout and workspace could cost your business a lot of money, especially in this increasingly optimized world. Companies should know how much time their employees waste moving back and forth searching for tools, how often aging equipment breaks down, and other key indicators such as if workers are satisfied with the current workflow.

There are key advantages to be gained through having an effective manufacturing plant layout design and production plan. Some include:

  • Reduced labour costs;
  • Improved rate of on-time deliveries;
  • More efficient equipment usage;
  • Fewer workplace incidents;
  • Decreased maintenance costs; and
  • Reduced manufacturing time.

Creating a well-organized factory layout helps increase productivity and improves your overall company efficiency. Here are eight tips to optimize factory layout design for increased manufacturing productivity.

  1. Take a Look at Your Current Workflow
    The first step in solving any problem is to admit there is a problem. This includes strategizing the workflow of a factory plant. You won’t know what needs to be changed until you gauge how everything is working at the current state. Take the time to carefully examine your facility’s operations to identify areas for improvement.
  2. Collaborate and Listen
    While developing a new or improved layout of your facility, acknowledge your employees’ thoughts, opinions, concerns, and findings. Those working on the floor should be able to give input and have their voices heard. Your employees may have insights and ideas on developing a more efficient flow and increasing manufacturing productivity.
  3. Make Preventative Maintenance a Priority
    There are several reasons why a factory should invest in preventative maintenance, including cost savings, improved safety, greater reliability, and increased equipment efficiency. Preventive care may cause a minor hindrance to production, but that is nothing compared to the detrimental impacts on a facility’s workflow when equipment breaks down. To incur as little downtime as possible, it is essential to invest in planned routine maintenance.
  4. Keep Everything in its Place
    manufacturing plant layout design should be organized to keep operations efficient and running smoothly. Workers should know where tools and equipment are, so there is no wasted time trying to find items. Ensure your facility is organized so vital supplies are kept as close as possible to where they are most needed. If possible, keep items labelled or have a master sheet of all equipment and their dedicated spots available for easy access.
  5. Invest in Continuing Employee Education
    Introducing and improving a new factory layout will not be successful unless your employees are 100% on board. Investing in educational programs to ensure everyone on the floor is doing their part and carrying out best practices is crucial. Consider cross-training your employees as it adds depth and variety to their portfolio, allowing your company to better leverage skills possessed by the workforce.
    There are financing options to offset employee training costs. Explore Canadian government funding programs for small business training.
  6. Encourage Accountability
    Accountability is about recognizing that other team members depend on your work’s results and that your actions matter. Employees need to take ownership at work and think about what will make the business successful. If this doesn’t happen, it damages the team and workflow. When employees are encouraged to speak up when they see inefficient or poor behavior and actions, it creates an environment where efficiency and safety are top of mind for everyone.
  7. Utilize Technology
    Advanced equipment and computer-controlled machinery may be costly assets to a company and time-consuming to learn how to use. Still, they bring significantly greater efficiencies to many facilities. Take the time to evaluate if your company has the resources to implement new technology; it can be worth the expense.
  8. Keep Your Expectations Within Reality
    The road to optimizing a factory layout design requires developing a production process that works and will deliver efficient and successful results. Setting unrealistic goals may lead to frustration, failure, and a waste of both time and money. Make sure to set realistic goals in the beginning stages and look for additional improvements throughout each phase of the optimization process.

Canadian manufacturers have financing options and support for expanding their operations and production and factory layout projects. Mentor Works has developed the Expanding Manufacturing Production slide deck as a resource to help project managers understand the many aspects to think about while developing a plan for capital investment projects, including tips for training existing employees and purchasing equipment.

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