The work we all do in our day-to-day lives must carry some meaning, and whether we are in charge of a company, or we are a staff member, the worth that attaches itself to a job role is sometimes evident, and sometimes it is not. As every building has its own support so does every business, and the pillars of each company are vital, relevant, and imperative to a company’s survival. The manufacturing industry is one that thrives on its ability to reproduce product at a high volume and with speed. The pillars that ensure a manufacturing industry makes its mark are as follows:
The final product in all its forms is the culmination of many different factors behind the scenes, we all know this, but how important is it to really make sure the end justifies the means? The whole manufacturing or factory line setup can be viewed as a metaphor for the whole operation, every piece is vital to the process. So this is why there are inspectors in place to check the machinery, this is why quality control are on the backs of the employees, and this is why each piece of the process has to be in place. General Motors has a maxim of the 3 Cs – Common, Common, Common, in other words, the common goal of the whole factory. Not just one area, but the whole gamut, from the workers all the way up to the CEOs. This is why you need to have a clear vision of the process, and it needs to be seen clearly by everyone. A common goal gives everyone a purpose, not just the ones at the top of the operation.
This is always a big bone of contention. We need to cut costs, but we need to be sure that everything is operating at full capacity, and this is such a fine line to tread. The best way to look at how cost can be cut is to focus on each essential component in turn and work through the processes one by one until you find an area that can be shaved. This is difficult because each department will argue that they are more essential than the last, and they are right, which makes it a difficult job. Take the example of equipment, if you utilize 6 Pro-Pleat Filters during the course of a year to reduce moisture on the factory floor which can help the product, you can argue that it is an essential process. But in buying those same filters every year, are you using the filters to the point of expiration? If not the cost could be stretched out further by using them for another few months. As time goes on, the overheads can get away from you, and as every business struggles to find ways to shave money off the budget, it is sometimes inevitable that there are more personal areas that feel the pinch, which is why you need to pay particular attention to…
In a factory setting, it can be very easy to overlook the achievements made by staff because of the transparency of the roles. Look at it from their perspective; they are very likely to be working shift patterns, 12-hour day shifts or 12-hour night shifts, and it can be a draining job, especially working the same role. It requires a huge amount of concentration, and one mistake can cause a major setback on the factory line, and the product could get shipped late, and that one staff member’s mistake can be a real embarrassment. It is so important that your staff gets recognized for their efforts because it is a big morale booster for them and if you don’t already do it, it may show how much your staff thinks you appreciate them, which isn’t a lot. So you need to start to reset the balance in favor of your staff. Morale is a big thing that is lacking in manufacturing settings, and as the model of the factory workforce is being threatened by technology and changing times, you need to take a holistic look at how your workforce is coping with the massive changes. A factory setting is almost a portal to the past in this respect, and staff may feel somewhat unsupported. In Japan, there are many ways to encourage a sense of morale and purpose in their workforce, and while their model may not apply directly to western practices, you can still take some of that on board and spend some small amount of time per week taking feedback or discussing future plans with them. The workers on the lower rungs don’t always feel like they are being heard. Change that for the better.
Coming full-circle, the product is destined for the customer and as a key pillar for any industry now, customer service is the main way you can stand to get any suitable feedback on your product. As we welcome feedback from our staff members, we should welcome feedback from customers. In fact, we should not just welcome it; we should go out of our way to ask for it. This should be part of the post-sale process, and as the manufacturing process is the place where the durability of the item is tested, it is likely to be you at fault if there are any errors. We read about issues with pieces of glass in a product or a faulty batch, and it is you that will get the blame for. This is something that can be prevented with good working practices. As the adage goes, the customer is always right, and they are. It is much easier to disassociate yourself from the customer in a manufacturing industry setting, but it is also much easier to bear the brunt of the backlash. Treat the customer with the respect they deserve, after all, they are the reason your business is doing so well and why your product is selling.