Manufacturing Trifecta: Basic Management Issues
Managing a manufacturing process involves ever-increasing attention to detail. Sometimes, it can help to take a step back and consider three basic issues.
Nearly every type of manufacturer faces regulations aimed at ensuring product safety, worker safety, and environmental safety. Burdensome as the paperwork can be, with requirements varying from state to state and country to country, regulatory compliance is mandatory. Penalties can range from annoying to draconian but the jolt to the company's reputation can also hit the bottom line.
Review your compliance efforts, from the paper trail for individual items up and down your supply chain to storage, recycling, and shipping procedures, to help avoid violations that may arise from regular or surprise inspections. Check for new regulations, missed filings, and missing paperwork.
Cutting-edge products eventually become commonplace. Investing in research and development keeps products relevant and improves cash flow until your next cutting-edge product comes along. Promote curiosity and creativity among your employees to keep the ideas flowing and double down on quality assurance when introducing new products. Being first to market is important, but not at the expense of defective products that don't work, or worse, cause damage.
Robots may take over the factory floor in the future, but for now, you still need skilled labor to manufacture goods. Balancing head count costs, required skills, and training is never easy, but consider setting up a hiring and mentoring program to allow younger workers to learn before baby boomers retire and take their experience with them. Working with a variety of schools can help supply at least partially-trained workers. Offering retirees a part-time schedule can help avoid an abrupt loss of skills. Labor benefit costs, primarily healthcare, continue to go up, but good benefits attract and retain good workers.
Capital investment in new technology and machinery, and associated preventive maintenance on older machinery, can help boost productivity, and may provide a safer work environment.
Managing people is never easy, but sometimes, taking a step back to consider business basics can help you find something you may have overlooked.