Manufacturing: Worst Offenders

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.

One response to “Manufacturing: Worst Offenders

  1. As a green belt and career veteran in quality, you strike a chord with this post. But you missed the most important facet: Care and concern. What has really failed is leadership.

    From presidents on down to line supervisors, there’s a malignant disrespect for citizens and enterprise shareholders, including employees and not just BODs. Examples of “grab whatever you can and sell out” represented by the likes of automakers, banks, CEOs, conservatives, insurance companies, Trump, and whoever else you can blame for this depression “trickle down” to churlish demigods who run departments. You can’t instill good practice when bad faith pays just as well. BP, Shell and XOM weaseled out of devastating oil spills. Yet Toyota’s cut/slash tactics and denials bit them in the publicity butt. Grease right palms, it all goes away, and public has to pay.

    Cash flows on cooperation among all involved, especially customers. Any enterprise (i.e., banks) that doesn’t serve customer interests first and foremost is doomed, unless corrupt politicians intervene.

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