Production is the process of transforming raw materials or inputs into a finished product or output. Efficiency means the ability to accomplish the resulting good or product with minimum time, money, and effort wastage.
Combining the two together, production efficiency (or productive efficiency) is achieved when a manufacturing or production system has reached a satisfactory equilibrium between all variables and there is no longer room for improvement without increasing costs. In simple terms, it is the point where the highest production count is achieved at the lowest possible cost.
Currently available resources in terms of assets and manpower greatly determine a manufacturing plant’s maximum output and minimum cost- which is why studies on how to optimize the utilization and performance of these moving parts are subjects of great interest for supply chain professionals across different industries.
4 ways to improve production efficiency
1 Examine the current workflow and create an optimized version
Workflow analysis should be done periodically and it starts by gathering hard data and soft data.
- Hard data refers to quantifiable and historical information, such as the number of units produced successfully, the number of units rejected, the average time it takes to complete a certain task, etc.
- Soft data take your analysis to the next level by sourcing qualitative feedback from the people directly involved in the production.
Once you have the necessary data, it’s time to ask questions regarding your current process: what works and what doesn’t work?
The analysis should end with an optimized workflow, ideally with the result of lessening the number of touches from start to finish.
Remember that improvements do not happen overnight, and monitoring results from your improved workflow must be done after one to three months of implementation to check if it is working as desired.
To make changes more sustainable, it is best done in batches or per production line.
2 Conduct regular time study analysis
A time study is done to measure the standard time – the amount of time it takes for an adequately-trained worker to complete a task. Observation can be done manually with the use of tools such as a stopwatch and a clipboard; but currently, more organizations are turning to the use of technology, such as video cameras, computers, or specialized software.
The standard time can then be compared to industry standards to gauge how efficiently the company is performing versus others. The analysis is useful in pointing out flaws with how the plant floor is designed and the allocation of inputs.
Check the percentage of productive time versus the idle time in performing a task. If the worker spends time walking from one machine to the next, there might be time wastage that can easily be avoided via the optimal arrangement of the plant’s layout.
3 Create a preventive maintenance schedule
Adopting a proactive approach to maintaining your assets can help save time and money, by reducing unplanned downtime, keeping your machines working efficiently, and decreasing the chances of unexpected asset breakdown.
To create a preventive maintenance schedule, start by identifying the assets that should be prioritized for regular maintenance; consolidate each of the asset’s history of repairs and maintenance; and determine the frequency of maintenance needed, based on the asset’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or your production team’s recommendations.
Finally, organize all the information you have gathered into a calendar and start implementing the preventive maintenance schedule. This can be done through the use of spreadsheets but to make monitoring more accurate and efficient, you might want to consider investing in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that is customized to your needs.
4 Maximize asset utilization
The most common reason why manufacturing plants invest in industrial machines is to improve their overall efficiency and profit margin. Given the high level of capital spending required for these assets, it is important to ensure maximum return on investment.
The asset utilization ratio is your tool to measure how efficiently the organization uses available assets to generate profit. When the actual utilization is too far off from an asset’s potential utilization, the company is at risk of suffering huge operational losses.
There are four key metrics on the computation of the asset utilization ratio: product yield, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), unplanned downtime and maintenance spend. Start with the maximum potential utilization then deduct the number of times the asset was not utilized for whatever reason.
Production efficiency translates to reduced costs and greater revenue, less wastage of money and resources, and overall better quality of the end product. With these benefits, efficiency is usually one of the top goals of many businesses globally.
The world’s obsession with accomplishing more in less time has led to the constant development of technological tools and new methods of achieving production efficiency.
With this unprecedented rate of change, the level of efficiency that is acceptable today may be subpar after a few months. Make sure that you stay on top of your industry’s trends and practices to keep your production performing at its optimal level.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.