There are a lot of scary stories going around about the manufacturing sector in this country. According to some estimates, workers in the industry only seem to have a few years left of employment before “the machines” take over.
The effect that advancing technology is having on jobs in general is greatly exaggerated. 140 years of data actually suggest that technology advancement has created more jobs than it’s destroyed. Nevertheless, there are legitimate concerns about the safety of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Automatons do more in production lines than in pretty much any other area of business.
Still, over twelve million Americans are employed in this great industry. And while some jobs may be at risk, it’s not true that everyone has cause to panic. The reports of the impending robot takeover of this industry are greatly exaggerated! This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking action to try to help the workers.
One of the best ways to help protect this pursuit is by making your process more efficient. Efficiency is one of the biggest areas of concern for business owners in this field today. It always has been, of course. But in recent years it seems that it’s more of an acute worry than ever before. So here’s a quick guide to getting the most out of your production line.
Understanding your production line
A lot of business owners have a surprisingly small lack of knowledge about what it is they produce. I’m not talking about the end product, here. Business owners are sure to know about the product they’re selling in intimate detail. What I’m talking about here is the actual process of producing that item.
In order to get yourself in a good position to make improvements, you should make efforts to learn as much about the process as your employees. What raw materials does your product need? What is done to those materials? How much energy is used at each part of the process? If you know these things, you can locate areas where you can save money or reduce energy usage.
Collect data on the raw materials
Typically, the raw materials you have to use in your production process is the most expensive part of the whole deal. But it’s not as if you can do without the raw materials, right? They’re the things that your end product is actually made up of, after all.
So you need to know as much as possible about the raw materials your company uses. Unfortunately, there’s not much specific advice I can give to you on this subject. How each company uses their raw materials is different, even among companies making similar products. But if you have the right data, it can help you make some crucial efficiency-boosting decisions. Know exactly what is being done with the raw material at every step in the process. It will inform you about how much time and effort is required with this particular material. It will also let you know how much waste from the material is produced during each step. Once you know that, you can start making any improvements, if they’re needed.
Keep a close eye on sales
A lot of people in the factory won’t bother themselves too much about the actual sales of the end product. After all, aren’t you just making the things here? You’ll get orders detailing how much the consumers or clients want produced then you just go ahead and do it. Why do you need to know anything about the external sales on an intimate level?
The fact is that manufacturing companies often waste a lot of time by not monitoring sales properly. A business owner in this field should know exactly what’s going on sales-wise by monitoring market data. It’s amazing how many manufacturers find themselves surprised by rises or dips in sales. All of a sudden, for example, they need to produce a lot more this week than they did last week. If they weren’t monitoring sales properly, they might not have had the correct order of raw materials. They may even find themselves understaffed that week.
If sales are lower than expected, then this may also be useful knowledge for your factory. It might be prudent to slow down production if sales aren’t what they were initially expected to be. This will be of particular help to companies who are producing goods that will expire.
Making improvements on the end product
One of the best ways you can make your production line more efficient is by finding ways to improve on the end product. If you can heighten the overall quality of the item, then this has several positive effects. The most obvious is that it increases the satisfaction of the consumers who purchase it. A good way of measuring efficiency isn’t just to look at profits. It’s to gauge the satisfaction of the end user. (Of course, this can result in repeat sales or recommendations, which results in more money!)
You may think that making improvements on the product will result in increasing costs in several areas. This, of course, depends on precisely what it is you’re improving. There are actually a few ways you can improve products that in turn also improves the process. Let’s look at powder coating methods such as you can find at Reliant Finishing Systems, for example. Powder coating is cheaper than paint. It doesn’t release the unhealthy fumes that paint does. It also reduces waste.
Track your inventory as closely as you can
This ties in closely to the sales monitoring in many ways. What’s in your inventory is what determines what you can do at any given time. It’s not just about knowing exactly what materials you have on hand for immediate use. It’s about knowing what needs to be ordered (and what has already been ordered) and what problems exist with on-hand materials.
So why do people often neglect to track inventory as thoroughly as it needs? For some businesses, it’s because they don’t have the person-power. For others, it’s because it simply takes up too much time. You may want to look into some inventory tracking software if you want to improve efficiency in this area.
7 Safety Tips to Keep Your Workplace Injury-Free
When we talk of workplace safety, the images that come into mind are mostly of construction workers hanging off high-rise buildings. The truth is there are hazards in any workplace, including office environments.
Thousands of employees fall victim of workplace injury every year. This has led to reduced productivity in the workplace, increased healthcare costs, and increased workers’ compensation claims, thereby having devastating effects on the injured employees as well as their employers. Here are a few things you can do to keep your workplace injury-free:
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is essential in any working environment to protect users from workplace hazards. Note that different working environments require different safety gears. Some of the common PPEs include helmets, metal detectable gloves, slip-resistant shoes, earmuffs, hard hats, full-face masks, goggles, and much more. When worn correctly, these safety gears will significantly reduce the risk of accidents at your workplace. Be sure to check that they are in good condition before using them.
A cluttered and untidy working environment is much more difficult to manoeuvre and more prone to hazards. Having a clean, organized, and clutter-free workspace can help avoid unnecessary hazards such as being hit by falling objects, tripping over scattered objects, slipping on wet surfaces, and so on.
Inspect Equipment before Operating
It’s important to do a complete visual inspection of all equipment before using them to ensure they are safe to operate. In case there’s an issue with the equipment, inform management about it. Remember to keep all inspection records to let other workers know about the equipment’s working condition.
Follow All OSHA/HSA/HSE Protocols
The law requires all employers to provide danger-free workplaces to their employees. Those researching long term disability due to work-related injury/illness should seek help from an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability law. There are several organizations that have been put in place to protect people in the workplace. For instance, OSHA/HSA/HSE protocols describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. Following these simple rules and guidelines can go a long way in keeping your workplace injury-free.
Report Any Hazard to Management
If you notice something that could potentially hurt someone, clear it up if you can do it safely. If not, inform your supervisor. Management is legally obligated to provide a safe working environment and will surely take care of any workplace hazards to ensure that. Both employees and employers should work together to find a long-term solution to prevent a similar unsafe condition from occurring in the future.
Store Hazardous Chemicals Properly
Hazardous chemicals need to be properly labelled and stored. Ask management if you are unsure where to store them. Chemicals such as gasoline are combustible and should be stored in highly ventilated areas. Failure to do so can put everyone’s safety at risk. Any spills or splatters made while working with hazardous chemicals must be properly cleaned right away.
Implement Emergency Procedures
Even with all the safety precautions in place, some accidents can still happen. It’s important to have an emergency management plan to prepare for the unexpected. All employees should practice emergency drills. Also, remember to update your office first-aid kit, as well as keep a few snacks and water for emergencies. This will mitigate the effects of an accident at the workplace like preventing long-term disability.
5 Tips For Managing Web Development Projects
A web development project can quickly become a confusing mess if the right management technique is not used. Management is important to the success of any project, but with so many different aspects of site design coming into play, it’s important to streamline the design process so as to save time, and eventually money.
Here are five tips for managing web development projects that will do just that.
Communication is key to successful management. If management doesn’t communicate with the team or vice versa, the problems can become exponential. That’s why we’ve put communication at the top of the list.
Communication helps identify problems early on, set expectations and standards, and provide updates on the project. Communication within the team doesn’t only include the team members and management however, but also should include the clients.
You should keep your client updated as the project progresses with frequent communication via email, phone call, or even in-person meeting. The latter is probably the best way to go about communicating with your client, so you can show them how the project looks at each step of the design process and make edits as you go.
There are literally hundreds of digital communication tools you can utilize to improve team communication, from team management software to conference calling services. Whichever medium you choose, be sure to utilize it each day to improve your team’s collaboration and ensure everyone is on the same page.
2. Utilize Easy Sharing And Collaboration Tools
Sharing has never been easier with the advancement of cloud sharing services. It seems like cloud saving and sharing have become the staple of any digital service, from wireframe tools to team management apps.
Easier sharing eliminates the problem of lost files, hard drives, etc. The days of emailing and downloading files are just about gone, being replaced with the ease and security of cloud sharing. By sharing via the cloud, you’re providing a central place for your team to access important files related to the project, saving time.
Cloud sharing also makes keeping the client updated simpler. You can give clients access to the shared folder, so they can see the files as the project progresses, and even send instructions to the team via the cloud.
Overall, cloud sharing is the best way to share files among team members and streamline all of your sharing and collaboration. Centralizing these efforts into one location makes managing assets and team members much easier.
3. Use A Wireframe
A wireframe is probably the single best tool you can use to assist in managing a development team. This effective tool provides a roadmap for the project that both the team and client can utilize to make edits, suggest new additions, and view the design process.
When you make website wireframes, you’ll want to focus on the functionality and UX of the design rather than any visual elements. That comes later in the design process. A wireframe is simply a blueprint for the site, and therefore should be kept simple with greyscale and simple fonts.
Use your wireframing tool to coach the team in the direction of the project, and to keep the client updated. Both the client and your team will be grateful for the organization that a wireframe can add to a project, and edits are much easier when you have a workable interface.
4. Use Team Management Software
Team management software serves several different purposes. You can assign tasks and hold team members accountable for their assignments, share files and projects, and even collaborate in some cases in real-time via video or audio chat.
Team management software provides managers with an easy to use interface to track team efforts and communication. This is especially useful when managing large teams or remote teams that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet with in-person.
There are hundreds of different options for team management software, with many of the apps being web-based for easy access. While there are many free services, the best team management apps will come with a fee. If you’re serious about managing your team more effectively, these tools can be an excellent option.
5. Set Expectations From The Beginning
This may seem like a simple thing to do, but often managers will not set clear expectations for what they expect and are then unsure as to why the team isn’t meeting standards as a result. Clear and precise expectations can mean the difference between an efficient team and a clumsy one.
The best thing you can do as a manager is to set expectations in writing at the beginning of each project. Provide the client’s expectations for the final project as well as yours. Include attendance expectations, each team member’s role, and any other pertinent information.
When you set clear expectations, the team becomes much easier to manage. Everyone is aware of what’s expected, so you can pinpoint those team members that aren’t meeting those expectations and make the necessary adjustments where needed.
Team management isn’t rocket science. With good communication, clearly defined communication, and the right management and collaboration tools, you can effectively manage an efficient and productive team. Keep in mind that team members need their managers to be organized and respectful of their work. You need to earn the team’s trust and respect as their superior, and with a little communication and empathy, you’ll be on your way to becoming a great manager.
Lead the Way: 5 Practices for Successful Leadership in Your Company
Whether you’re leading employees in a large corporation, or you’re leading within your own small business, the same practices for successful leadership apply. Employees hold the responsibility to carry their own weight, but leaders have the role of guiding others down the right path – toward safety, productivity, efficiency, and integrity.
As the leader of a company, what can you do to help ensure employee safety? What habits might eventually become a threat to their safety? What skills can you put into practice to lead your team to success?
1. Lead by example.
No matter what type of company you run, leading by example will always remain the first priority for building a strong team that makes smart choices. When you set the bar for high expectations, your team will strive each day to meet them. Whether you’re on a construction site wearing proper safety gear and staying on task, or you’re in the office delivering a presentation, your team will look to you as an example.
2. Communication is key.
Growth in any relationship comes from mutual understanding and a desire to improve. When you learn to adapt your communication skills to each of your employees, transformation increases tenfold. Many interpersonal issues stem from a simple lack of communication or misunderstanding. Having open lines of communication means your team will trust you and be willing to put in the work.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
We all make them, and we can all use them as a guideline for improvement. Take note of things that haven’t worked for you in the past as a leader, and see if you can shift your perspective to create a solution.
4. Make conscious decisions.
Taking the time to pause before making any major decisions is wise for many reasons. A simple mix of instinct and logic is the perfect blend to back your choices. Your employees will see that you don’t make hasty decisions, and they’ll be inspired to think through issues of their own.
5. Help your team remained focused.
Encourage your team to stay on task. If your job requires manual labor or an onsite location with large machinery, make sure your team remains aware of their surroundings at all times. Not only does productivity increase with heightened focus, but safety increases as well.
If an employee is injured at work, always direct them to seek medical treatment. According to workers’ compensation lawyers in Raleigh, NC, these claims should be handled immediately following an injury.
Keep these 5 practices in mind to help improve your leadership skills and guide your team to success!
4 Important Logistics Trends to Consider
Businesses and other types of consumers need to be able to find the right logistical solutions. Taking care of a consumer’s shipping needs is absolutely important and there are many things to consider. Those who want to have the best possible experience should really think about current trends and where things are going.
Take a look at these four important logistics trends that you need to consider moving forward.
1. Green Logistical Solutions
Many companies are taking environmental concerns very seriously. Being able to implement green solutions into the structure of a business is very important. As per 3PL Link’s eco-friendly supply strategy, iIt has become a big trend in the logistical world recently . You will find that several large companies have begun to decrease the environmental impact of their operations.
As the world continues to turn away from fossil fuels, green solutions are going to become more common. Integrating new green technologies into the normal business processes is crucial. Some companies are making greater efforts to do this than others but the trends show that green logistical solutions are here to stay. It is important for the reputation of logistical companies and it can lead to benefits such as lowered supply chain costs.
2. Digital Logistical Solutions
Of course, digital logistics are among the most important innovations in the logistical space. The addition of digital logistical processes has really improved the process overall. It allows companies to have access to real-time data in order to keep track of shipments. This makes everything more efficient and improves communication between all parties.
One of the biggest reasons why the digital logistical tend is going to continue to be important is that it reduces the time to market. The improvements in technology have made it possible to do things more quickly. Being able to plan things out more efficiently leads to better logistical services. The innovation in the digital logistical solution sector is impressive and this will continue to become more important as the years go by.
3. Elastic Logistical Solutions
This is a logistical concept that involves being able to provide very flexible logistical options to consumers. This logistical approach is all about being capable of responding to the demands of any given situation. Companies are making use of cloud-based solutions in order to help adjust things properly. This helps with supply chain integration, improves overall visibility, and keeps things running on time.
One of the goals of the elastic logistical solution strategies is to ensure that customers have the optimal experience no matter what their needs are. By adding real-time supply chain visibility to the mix, it gives customers the chance to see what is going on with their shipments. Companies that can take care of logistical needs in an agile and adaptable way will be able to better meet the needs of consumers.
4. The Importance of Supply Chain Collaboration
Supply chain collaboration is actually starting to become a very important part of the process. Companies that are providing better service levels throughout the supply chain process are noticing increased growth and lower costs. This process can ensure that everything is being run as efficiently as possible while communication is kept up on all ends. It gives people a better idea of where their goods are while also keeping the costs low.
7 Tactical Tips on How to Disrupt an Industry
1,000 songs in your pocket.
That one slogan helps explain how a computer company (aka Apple) transformed the music business and sold 300 million iPods in the process.
People could now purchase their music online. Physical music stores became redundant. Online piracy was less of an issue. Lone songs were available at a fraction of the cost of whole albums. And hundreds of them could be transported on one portable device.
Disruption of an industry doesn’t get much bigger than what Apple achieved.
But how did they do it? How do some companies look at proud, old industries, and revolutionize them in line with their vision? Thankfully, you don’t have to be a Steve Jobs to make it happen.
Anyone with the right know-how can do it.
Keep reading to discover 7 tactical tips to disrupt an industry.
7 Ways to Disrupt an Industry the Easy Way
Sometimes you need to make a splash, cause a fuss, and mix things up. Here’s how to do it in your industry of choice.
1. Solve the Unsolvable
Every market has problems they haven’t been able to solve.
Then someone comes along, solves them, and voila, market disrupted.
Take Amazon as a prime example.
There wasn’t really anywhere to buy books online before Amazon. Book stores were struggling businesses, stuck in the dark ages. Then Bezos created an entire marketplace from buying them online.
Now the company generates over $61 billion annually and has 97,000 employees.
That’s the power of disruption you should be aiming for. Consider the problems in your industry and set about solving them.
2. Take a DIY Approach
That’s easier said than done, right?
Try taking a new approach to old problems. Why not look to make a splash in industries where you have no prior experience?
Previous experience in totally different fields can be exceptionally helpful. For instance, it may take a biologist to solve a physics problem or vice versa.
People usually say something can’t be done because they’ve been told as much. They’ve been reared on that belief and fulfill the prophecy accordingly. Someone new to the mix doesn’t have that negative mindset. They can see it clearly for what it is and set about fixing things.
Oh, and yeh, solve the problem yourself. We’re too used to paying someone to provide solutions. But the nature of unsolvable problems is that there isn’t anyone to do it. Scratch your own itch instead.
Need a company that’ll provide the requisite logistical support to succeed in your initial industry of focus? Create it. Make it happen, then use it to solve the first problem.
3. Break the Mold
Disruption of anything usually requires doing things differently.
To disrupt a quiet classroom you make a noise. To disrupt an industry you do the same. Look at what’s happening and actively push against it.
There will always be people and ‘experts’ with an opinion on your idea. You will probably be told you’re stupid, foolish, and absolutely incorrect in your approach. Take that as active fuel for your fire, as well as a clear sign you’re doing something right.
People generally don’t enjoy someone upsetting their current way of life. They’ll get annoyed, stomp and moan and throw a tantrum, telling you you’re wrong. That’s good news. Keep doing what you’re doing.
4. Move Fast and Make a Fuss
Speed is of the essence.
And so it the amount of noise you make.
Be a bull in a china shop when you enter your industry of choice. The metaphor of a bull is apt here. You need to be the business embodiment of one. Bulls don’t stop with an obstacle in their way. They don’t hesitate when they’re told they can’t do it.
Instead, they charge and break things at every turn. They’re one step ahead and out of earshot of the naysayers before anyone can wonder what happened.
5. Break the Mold
Did someone say ‘déjà vu’?
No, you’re not imagining things. We did include this above. And yes, it’s absolutely on purpose.
What was your first thought when you saw this subheading for the second time? Did you feel uneasy? Did you think it was wrong, or just downright stupid?
Good! We broke the goddamn rules. They get in the way and stop creativity in its tracks. That’s what you need to emulate as you set about disrupting your industries. Be crazy, and be creative. Be bold and break the mold.
6. Listen to Problems
Here’s a quick tip for idea generation.
Listen to the complaints of customers. What don’t they like? What do they wish they could do or see? What do they moan about?
Go to forums, read reviews, listen to podcasts and watch videos online. There are little golden nuggets of information around every corner.
Find out more about a product that’s addressed an issue and is disrupting an industry as you read.
7. Take Aim at a Target
Who is the industry leader in your field?
They may have ruled the roost for years. No-one else even tries to knock them off their pedestal. Until you came along. Remember, you’re a bull. Take aim and charge.
Targeting a competitor is like going to war. It’s a risky business. Win, and glory is yours. You stake your claim and immediately disrupt the status quo. Lose, and you’ll be laughed at and relegated to the history books…until next time.
Hyperbole aside, going into competition with an industry leader (with a competing product or service, etc) may be exactly what you need. It can help to raise awareness and cause a stir. Then it’s up to you to follow through.
Time to Get Disruptive
There you have it: 7 ways to disrupt an industry without an issue.
Some of the biggest companies in the world established their names through disruption of an industry. Like an athlete applying a whole new technique to an event, these companies, cause a ruckus that works in their favor.
This requires the ability to look at old problems with new eyes. It also requires the willingness to take a risk. Thankfully, with the right tactics, both are possible.
Hopefully, the information here has provided the ideas and inspiration to start disrupting your industries without further ado.
Did you like this piece? Click here to read all our posts about how to be innovative in business!
Two Smart Ways To Overcome The Problem Of Last-Mile Delivery
Right now, there’s something of an obsession with the concept of “last mile” delivery in the logistics industry. Companies have largely solved the problem of getting costs down for 99 percent of the journey to the customer, thanks to a combination of giant trucks and ships, but the issue of expense for the last mile remains. Why?
Last mile delivery is a little bit like bespoke manufacturing. Each customer lives at a different address, so you have to navigate your way to their home and unload the item manually. It pushes up costs, as single runs do in manufacturing, and means that delivery prices are much higher than they could be.
A new generation of entrepreneurs wants to deal with the issue of last-mile delivery using technological methods. The goal is to bring down the cost of last-mile delivery by an order of magnitude, making e-commerce a more attractive option.
One of the reasons that last mile delivery is expensive is because of the risks involved. When truck drivers have to take new routes, they are more likely to make mistakes. As this truck accident lawyer points out, more than one in ten accidents on the road involve a large vehicle. The search is on, therefore, for methods that will eliminate risk in the last mile of delivery, cutting insurance costs and making things safer for workers.
The main innovation in this area right now is the delivery locker. Amazon already has a network of cabinets up and down the country where delivery drivers can deposit items for customers to collect at a later time.
The way delivery lockers works are simple. Customers order the goods that they want from an online retailer and select deliver locker as the delivery option. The retailer then sends the products out through its logistics network and delivers them to the locker, alongside deliveries for other customers for that particular day. Customers then get a code in their email, telling them what they need to punch into the console on the locker display.
Online retailers place delivery lockers in locations that their customers frequent on a regular basis, including gyms, banks, and other locations. The idea is to avoid the last mile of delivery by incorporating delivery solutions into customers’ daily lives. It’s a smart idea and one the industry will be tracking closely.
What else can businesses try to get the cost down? The second option is to use route optimization technology. It might sound simple in concept, but optimizing routes is a notoriously tricky mathematical problem. In fact, it’s so hard that traditional computers can’t do it.
The problem is that when you have more than, say, twenty deliveries to make, there are so many route options that it is hard to find the combination that will be the quickest. What you really need is a quantum computer. But until they become available, companies are having to make do with heuristic solutions – and fortunately, they’re getting better at it.
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