Give your manufacturing business an MOT

It’s a statutory requirement that once your car is over 3 years old it be MOT’d every year. This ensures it is both safe and not hurling huge levels of emissions into the atmosphere.

If only there was a mandate for businesses to carry out similar testing of their manufacturing processes. Not only from an emissions and safety point of view, but also from an efficiency standpoint.

I recently visited a manufacturing facility here in the UK and was amazed at the levels of waste that could easily be overcome by deploying standard automation technology. We surveyed the site in terms of wasted energy, damaged product, manual operations and wasted time, finding and reporting many instances of waste. We also determined that for a small investment (under £50k) the payback period for improvements would be less than 13 weeks.

As you may know waste is often categorised in Lean Manufacturing in terms of the following 7 categories:

1) Transport - unnecessary transportation of goods before they reach the manufacturing facility

2) Inventory - where too high stock levels waste working capital

3) Movement - unnecessary movement of goods within the manufacturing facility

4) Time - delays waiting for partly finished goods or raw materials

5) Defects - goods being either thrown away or reworked due to quality issues

6) Overprocessing - goods worked for too long or produced at too high a specification

7) Overproduction - the manufacture of too many goods compared to demand

I’d also like to add a further category: wasted talent – i.e., we often don’t get the most out of our staff either because they are overlooked, not inspired or not involved in the management side of the business.

Perhaps if we spend a little time considering the above we could improve our businesses, make them more profitable, enjoyable to work in, kinder to the planet - and in this current economic climate - more sustainable.