In order to run a successful operation, efficiency is key. Running at peak performance means lower costs and higher profits. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to improve operational efficiency in your manufacturing processes.
Think strategically and in advance about your supply chain
Often, one of the main reasons that an electronics manufacturing business is less than efficient is due to long lead times on components and materials. As part of a supply chain, efficiency requires your suppliers to align your goals with their own.
Working together with your suppliers to forecast sales and pre-emptively order materials with a longer lead time for when you will need them keeps the production line running smoothly. You may also need to consider where substitutions can be made, and components or materials in shortage can be replaced with one in lower demand.
Identify bottlenecks and weak links
If you think your manufacturing process could be more efficient, one of the first things you should be looking at is if there are any specific areas where your business is underperforming. Using analytics is a good way to spot these issues in the form of measurable figures, rather than just walking the production floor.
Introducing a manufacturing execution system into your current processes is the best way to analyse the weak areas of your business. These systems can provide both real-time feedback and historical data, allowing changes to be made instantly to processes that are slowing down the business. Quality issues, downtime and operational performance can all be measured using these systems.
Use automated systems where possible
Adopting automated systems will save you a lot of time in the long run, even if there is an initial learning curve to get to grips with a new system or piece of technology. Automated systems can be used for a range of processes within the manufacturing cycle, such as automatic reordering using smart technology.
Automatic reordering uses interconnected sensor technology to trigger automatic refills and reorders once stock levels deplete past a set level. Using this technology saves precious time that doesn’t need to be used and also provides a more accurate and consistent stock control. Other administrative processes such as payroll and scheduling can also be automated.
Opt for proactivity over damage control
Anticipating problems before they occur will save you a number of headaches down the line and preparing for them takes up less time than reactionary damage control. If a piece of equipment malfunctions, production can grind to a halt whilst it is fixed, resulting in a backlog of orders and a new time pressure to get back on schedule.
Malfunctions are always possible, but the chance of this happening is drastically reduced if you regularly inspect your equipment and address any problems before they get bigger. In some cases, this may mean investing in new equipment where your current models are outdated; the initial cost of a new machine will eventually be outweighed by the money it saves by operating more efficiently.
Provide regular training for employees
Motivated employees are essential if you want to improve the operational efficiency of your manufacturing process. Motivating your workers could come in the form of giving them incentives or targets to meet that will yield rewards but keeping your employees happy can be as simple as making sure they are properly trained.
Regular training ensures your employees are comfortable with all the machinery and equipment they are using and keeps them informed on any changes to procedure, preventing any hold-ups on the production line. Employees who feel they are fully trained to perform their role are also naturally happier and more motivated, meaning they will work more efficiently than an employee who has doubts about what they are doing.
These are just a few ways your electronics manufacturing can be made more efficient, but no operation will ever be ‘perfect’. There will always be ways to improve the operational efficiency of your manufacturing processes, even more so as technology evolves, and new technology allows us to speed up existing practices and automate time-consuming administrative tasks.
We help our customers to reduce their manufacturing costs and lead times, and create efficiencies that enable them to scale their business without risk. You can find out more about our flexible supply chain solutions here.