The Path to Productivity

The Path to Productivity

Productivity can be measured – and therefore managed. By managing productivity, your organization can take steps to increase it.

Productivity is a simple concept. It is the ratio of output to input. Increasing the output of an operation, or decreasing the input – or both – will grow this important factor.

Productivity can measure the effectiveness and efficiency of a single process or one machine, or one sub-routine, or a line or a department or a plant or a division – or an entire company.

By measuring productivity of some specific part of your operation,you can establish a baseline. Then, you can evaluate proposed changes to see if they increase productivity.

You can’t improve productivity with magic tricks or mysterious forces. Improvements are the result of specific steps taken to produce more.

Possibly, you are using a process that can be updated. With new technologies and new materials, many new solutions are available. Frequently, “the way things are” is based on old assumptions, or quick fixes that have never been set completely right.. In the hustle of keeping a plant running or a piece of equipment on line, compromises are frequently made to solve today’s problem – and the “real” fix is never put into place. So, inefficiencies may continue, costing money and effectiveness and wasting valuable resources.

One method of sizing up the problem that we recommend is to look at the net effect of any change or modification over time – not just at what it will cost at the beginning. Many modifications that improve productivity will have clear pay backs and those pay backs can be calculated. If the time and money spent justify the savings over time, try it. You may be surprised by how well it works for your operation.

In productivity improvement, there are several key areas that any operation can look to. We do not necessarily feel that we have all the answers. However, by suggesting some areas and posing a number of questions, we think we can help many organizations unlock some new ways to win the productivity challenge.

We suggest looking at and questioning your operation in several main areas:

  • People
  • Energy
  • Component Life
  • Maintenance and Repair Costs
  • Unplanned Downtime
  • Inventory Burden
  • Crisis Management
  • Waste

Productivity Opportunities:

LOWER PEOPLE COSTS

  • Increase area of control for operator
  • Use programmed logic controls, sensors, automated switches
  • Use computers to regulate the process
  • Lower operator skill requirements
  • Reduce number of operators required
  • Consolidate or simplify operations
  • Look for time wasting rules and practices to streamline
  • Use workers with proper proficiencies (dexterity, strength, vision, etc.)
  • Cross train for staffing flexibility
  • Reduce paperwork requirements by automated recording and reporting

REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

  • Use properly sized motors
  • Use energy efficient motors
  • Replace current gearing with more efficient types
  • Lower weight of components
  • Simplify drive design
  • Use technically improved materials (lighter/stronger/longer wearing)
  • Replace V-belts with cog belts
  • Replace chain with synchronous belts
  • Upgrade bearings to lower friction and resistance
  • Build in uses of gravity

INCREASE COMPONENT LIFE

  • Use lighter weight components
  • Use upgraded materials (hardened metals, Teflon, etc.)
  • Use materials that are rust or corrosion resistant
  • Select components with greater service factor
  • Protect components better from environmental factors
  • Use vibration analysis to lower excess wear
  • Use sensorized bearings to monitor heat build up
  • Match equipment to application – don’t over or under engineer
  • Inspect components more regularly
  • Use improved lubricants to lengthen life
  • Select components engineered for more severe service
  • Adjust equipment to ideal tolerances regularly which will to lower wear and tear and l essen lost effectiveness
  • Prevent adjustments by unauthorized personnel

CUT MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR COSTS

  • Examine root causes of failure and fix underlying problems
  • Use sensorized bearings and other components to note trouble spots
  • Use longer lasting components to reduce frequency of repair or service
  • Use preventive and predictive maintenance techniques to level work loads
  • Outsource unusual service
  • Rent rarely used tools
  • Extensively train maintenance staff
  • Obtain effective and specialized tools for service and repair

REDUCE DOWNTIME

  • Schedule outages in anticipation of repairs and replacements
  • Create process flexibility to take components off-line without total shutdown
  • Perform unit replacements of troublesome components and then bench repair or rebuild when convenient
  • Build in redundancy to prevent necessity of total line/process shutdown
  • Train staff to react quickly in emergencies
  • Use unplanned downtime to fix other equipment made unexpectedly idle
  • Have materials available for quick repairs

DECREASE INVENTORY BURDEN

  • Standardize on bearings and other components
  • Engineer process for simplicity
  • Use equipment with modular parts for fewer items needed to cover applications
  • Reduce variety of lubricants
  • Identify commonality of parts to lower stock requirements
  • Research stock levels in storeroom, eliminate unnecessary items or reduce levels to more logical point
  • Get purchasing and production involved with specifying proper stocking levels
  • Cooperate with industrial distributor to reduce necessary spare parts stock on your premises

PRACTICE CRISIS MANAGEMENT

  • Identify critical equipment that is crisis sensitive – and have plans if it fails
  • Know what is needed to fix things
  • Document availability- where it is and how quickly it can be gotten
  • Know what can be used instead
  • Examine ways to prevent crises – have a crisis prevention plan
  • Use IBT work sheets and surveys to build a plan of attack to avoid problems

MINIMIZE WASTE

  • Automate process for more accurate usages
  • Engineer materials, such as conveyor belting, for minimum product loss or spoilage
  • Examine specifications and tolerances to see if waste is encouraged or prevented
  • Standardize set-up procedures to achieve maximum output
  • Use statistical process control (SPC) to achieve standardization and management

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