A colleague recently asked me what I would look for if I were to evaluate a manufacturing plant (unspecified industry). My immediate response was to initially look for what I call the “Worst Offenders”. Here they are along with the rationale for why to correct them:
- No safety program: Do not blow up anybody or anything!
- No connection with customers: Everyone, including manufacturing personnel, should know what value the firm delivers to customers.
- Equipment out of calibration: Get what you expect out of your machinery and tools. This includes production, QC, test, and facilities equipment.
- No preventive maintenance program: “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.”
- No standard operating procedures: Eliminate the human and machine variations from the manufacturing process.
- Non-integrated planning: Synchronize demand-supply, production schedules, machine usage, workforce schedules, maintenance, logistics, and other plans in order to minimize planned and unplanned downtime.
- Lack of employee training and development: Get the most out of people.
- Poor labor management relations: Avoid strikes, showdowns, slowdowns, and other impacts to output. And employee satisfaction is a key driver of quality and productivity.
- No quarantine for discrepant material: Don’t mix the bad with the good.
- Inefficient layout: Avoid suboptimal flow of material and wasted time.
- Sloppy and slow changeovers: Prevent material contamination and achieve speed.
- No performance measures and targets: Need to evaluate performance and know what “good” is.
- Costs required for financial reporting do not reflect the true costs to manufacture: Need to know costs to understand product profitability for effective product portfolio management. Historical costs are also required for more accurate projections during product development.
- No continuous improvement program: Always strive to do better for competitive advantage.
There are obviously more problems that can be present in a manufacturing operation. But these are what I consider the worst offenders and what I would use as an initial set of diagnostic tests for a manufacturing operation.