Standards are more than just about compliance and procedures, they should be at the heart of your business and its culture and taken seriously can often be differentiated that takes your business to the next level.
The following are brief highlights, taken from an extract of our upcoming WBS Group e-book on delivering lean manufacturing.
First Impressions count - It starts at the car park
First impressions count. If the sign at the gate is tatty, if the security guard has a bad attitude and if the car park is littered with pallets and old rusty production equipment your products may be first class, but you already have a harder job convincing anybody.
Its more than standards – it’s the way we do things
Achieving and maintaining the relevant compliance certifications and ratings is crucial to staying in business and winning new business. Therefore they attract a lot of management attention. Unfortunately, this often happens at the expense of the voluntary standards, which risk being left behind.
The voluntary manufacturing standards bind everything together. They are the behaviours that make you proud of showing visitors round your factory; they give you confidence that production is in safe hands all the way.
5 basic steps that show you are different
- Tidy up
Tidying up is easy, but it only makes sense if you set measurable standards for what tidy looks like, who is responsible for regular housekeeping and by what method.
- Put up clear and durable signs
As a visitor, new employee or temporary worker, for example, it can be quite daunting to navigate a manufacturing site. If however, there are clear signs showing production line numbers, storage areas, process areas, restricted access areas etc. you have reduced the time people waste by searching for things or heading in the wrong direction.
- Design and enforce simple processes, procedures and KPIs
It is vital that your production plant has processes and procedures in place, that they are relevant and up-to-date, that they are communicated, trained and demonstrated, and that they are managed through the use of relevant KPIs. For example, there is no point in having a manufacturing standard which says that you have adequate technician cover, if you do not specify what that means in terms of technicians per shift, per line and what the response time you expect in situations such as break downs.
- Communicate and display performance data
You should only collect performance data if you intend to do something with it. Work with your operators and supervisors to set the performance measures that matter. In this way they feel involved and they understand the business point of having those measures and will adapt their behaviour accordingly. Rather than hide performance data away in spreadsheets in offices, they need to be visible on the lines. The method could be a whiteboard filled in by the operators, or it could be an electronic display. It does not matter as long as it happens.
- Train develop and empower staff at all levels
Training and development of all staff is crucial. The more people know, the more skills they have the more they can do. Offering people to take on responsibility for something is a show of appreciation and trust – if done correctly. Training and development must have a purpose and be structured. You decide your standards. How much training per employee per year. You need a carefully designed training plan, one that aims to fulfil your business strategy. Too much time and money is wasted on training and development because it was irrelevant or just a tick box exercise without any clear business purpose.
Keep up the good work, you never know when that surprise inspection may come
Setting manufacturing standards and maintaining them is a comprehensive piece of work that never ends. One of your manufacturing standards must be a regular review of the standards and an assessment of their efficacy and relevance. Often the best way of doing this is by using external resources who will spot the things you no longer see. It is human nature to complicate things and when we do our Manufacturing and Operations Assessments it is not long before we identify something that has got too complex and would benefit from simplification. When done regularly, the benefits of an independent assessment of your manufacturing standards will far outweigh the cost.