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How to Improve Efficiency with Your Manufacturing Biz

By | Regina Thomas

Increasing efficiencies in what you use, from time to pens and paper, is getting more challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all that our budgets really can make or break our business. Whether that’s in the production of what you’re selling or just in how much time you put in on projects, maintaining the right use of the resources of your business is critical.

Save on Overhead Supplies

Buy in bulk. Designate a storage cabinet or set up a couple of bins in an empty office to create a space for bulk purchases. If nothing else, put an old file cabinet to use as you reduce your need to store paper and use it as the stock-up cabinet.

Load up the space with the basics that every office goes through. Whether that’s paper plates and facial tissue or plastic cutlery and pens, create one space for all of these items and encourage folks to notify when they take the last of anything so support staff can stock up again. Avoid allowing anyone to keep a stash of community goods at their desk. This will reduce time spent chasing around the office, anxiety, and disruption.

Save on Utilities

Invest in programmable thermostats that can lower the temp in your space during the colder months. Letting your office space get down to sixty when the building is empty could mean that you pay nothing for heat in the winter, especially if you’re careful with window coverings.

Don’t go to the trouble of letting the temperature come up during the hotter months; warm air holds more moisture, so it will just increase the misery. However, do make sure that eastern blinds are closed in the morning, western blinds are closed in the afternoon and evening, and southern blinds are closed all summer long. Reverse that in the winter months.

On the shop floor, do your best to use surge strips on any 110-volt products, and encourage employees to get in the habit of shutting off surge strips at night. Keep battery-powered tools fully charged up during the day and make sure every tool has a spare battery. Anything you can alter or improve to use fewer resources, from a water pump to kiln coating, will save over time.

Save on Raw Materials

Carefully review your supply chain as the pandemic progresses. If your suppliers aren’t nimble and reviewing their supply chain, you may be paying more than necessary or facing frustrating delays, which could encourage your clients to look elsewhere.

Storage of your raw goods is key. While just in time supply management may have saved you money while the world was running fine, right now a stash of raw goods can be the difference between people and machines working or standing idle. Designate areas for raw good storage and do what it takes to

  • protect the product from anything that will damage it, such as dust or moisture, and
  • monitor the quantity level and order early to avoid running out

Whether that’s pickle relish or dress-making fabric, create a stash of what you used to order just in time.

Save on Personnel Costs

Carefully review your personnel levels and needs. You may have employees who are facing leaving their job because being in the office from 8 to 5 just isn’t working with child care or other factors. Could you keep that employee working more efficiently from home?

The benefits of working from home won’t work for all of the folks in your employ, but some of them may actually produce more from home than they do from the office. The set-up to work from home doesn’t have to be onerous; the employee likely works on a computer, so allow them to remote in and then study what tasks can be done digitally. If you’re at risk of losing a skilled employee because pandemic pressure is limiting their options, offering schedule flexibility, and working from home options could save you the investment you’ve made in this employee.

Change is hard. Unfortunately, everything right now seems to be changing. Lay in a stock of supplies to maintain the office and focus on a stash of raw goods for the production floor. Allow workers to change up their hours to make home-life more manageable. Finally, make incremental changes in your production space to reduce the consumption of utilities.

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