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If you own or manage a manufacturing firm, take a look around your shop floor and warehouse. What do you see? Now take a close look and recognize that not every bottleneck, extraneous process, or inefficiency in your system will be immediately obvious. Sometimes workarounds and weak protocols cover inefficiencies and make them hard to spot. And sometimes manufacturers implement processes designed to move the business forward, but they never check back in or conduct any real evaluation to make sure these new implementations actually work.

If a glance around your facility reveals any of the following red flags, try to identify and remove the inefficiency that may be hiding in plain sight.

Indicators of Inefficiency

1. Too many mission statements, quality statements, and company motto’s  If profound plaques and posters decorate your office like wallpaper, you may have an issue. It might seem counter-intuitive, but when employees are exposed to a constant, relentless stream of company-sponsored philosophical blather, they tune it out. Wouldn’t you? Words have meaning and power, but only when they’re presented sparingly, appropriately, and in the proper context.

2. Unmarked equipment cabinets, storage rooms, and file boxes. Only employees who have been here for years know what’s actually in there. And that’s no good. If drawers are too deep, the contents at the bottom are likely untouched overstock. If cabinets are unlabeled and their contents are a mystery to even one person on the floor, that’s one person too many.

3. Ignored safety warnings. Check goggles and helmets. If staff members aren’t using them, you don’t just have a safety problem, you have a messaging problem. Either you have too many rules, your rules aren’t clear, or you have a reasonable number of rules, but you don’t have the capacity to enforce them. In any case, employees are tuning out your rules and writing their own, and that’s a sign of a messy system.

4. Too many walls, disconnected offices, and vastly separated work-spaces  The walls and layout of your workplace may be causing employees to travel long distances to get the answers and materials they need to do their jobs. Keep related workstations physically close, and keep cubicle walls below head level. Unless privacy and security are serious concerns for a given position, don’t let cube walls reach all the way to the ceiling.

For more simple tips on maximizing efficiency in your manufacturing workplace, reach out to the MA staffing and business management experts at Tech Needs.

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