It often creeps up on you, completely unawares. You know something isn't quite right with your manufacturing process, but you can't put your finger on what it is.
This is a common problem in this sector, and one you're absolutely not alone in losing sleep over. Why is it suddenly taking longer to get products off the production line? Why is the team becoming increasingly frustrated?
There are lots of factors that can slow your manufacturing business down, but these are five of the most common.
Bottlenecks are a perennial problem for manufacturing businesses, and they're probably the best example of silent productivity killers.
When trying to resolve these issues, you need to know what to look for - and you'll be glad to hear that it's remarkably simple. They’re usually related to customers, supply chain, or equipment.
Bottlenecks arrive in manufacturing when there's a build-up of part-finished products at a specific stage of the process. This can happen pretty much anywhere along the line, but it'll usually be the same spot.
The problem is that once it starts, there's little choice but to down tools, clear the blockage and start everything up again. Just make sure you investigate the why so you can mitigate future instances.
Have you ever had that horrible feeling where you’ve realised you’ve messed up and the customer has noticed too?
Every business receives negative feedback or complaints - it's part and parcel of growing an enterprise and learning how to iterate your products and services. What can you do about them other than tackling them as they arise? Look at trends and common questions that customers ask you via email and social media. If a question keeps popping up, it’s a sign that you need to do something to address it before it becomes a deal-breaking problem.
But if complaints begin flooding in more regularly, then it might point to an issue with one of your processes. Something, somewhere, is resulting in a less than stellar product. Lingering issues are a sure-fire way to dissatisfaction.
So, take a look at your systems and processes from top to bottom and try and figure out where you're falling short.
If things get really bad when it comes to your processes, you'll start to suffer from lower rates of customer retention. Whether they have to wait too long for a product or experience more than one instance of poor quality, they'll soon give up and head elsewhere.
With the cost of acquiring new customers up to seven times higher than serving existing customers, manufacturers can achieve additional revenue and secure longer term relationships by increasing your focus on customer support, getting feedback, and making continual improvements. This approach allows you to capture more revenue and be ready to sell new products or upgrades when you know your customers are ready to buy.
What can you do to ensure that your customer service is of the highest standards, and ensure you’re not ignoring their needs?
Is your equipment always being fixed? The first signs that your equipment is causing more trouble than it’s worth will lie within the team. There'll be quiet (or not so quiet) grumbles about specific machinery, and the latest failing will be the only topic of conversation during lunch and breaks.
The other sign that you really need to look at the root of the issue, is constant maintenance call-outs. Continually calling on equipment service packages should immediately ring alarm bells.
Defective equipment can cause injury, reduces productivity, and reflects poorly on your business.
OK, we lied.
No one enjoys stock takes. Of all the elements of manufacturing, it's one of the most laborious.
It's also one of the most important, and the easiest to get wrong. For instance, if you're overstocking a specific part or ignoring the increasing value (or de-valuation) of your stock, it'll impact negatively on your processes.
The same goes when compensating for delivery delays. Taking that approach too regularly will negatively impact your stock and, in turn, introduce even more delays and those aforementioned bottlenecks.
Spend the right amount of time on the stock side of your business, and these issues are far less likely to rear their heads.
It all seems so obvious when someone points it out, doesn't it? But like everything in life, the simplest solutions are usually right under your nose.
If you've got any questions relating to any of the topics we've discussed today and think FlowDrill might be able to help, just get in touch.