Most efficiency-related blogs focus on boosting the output per input of office-based operations. Suggestions include things like going paperless and allowing flexible working.
Unfortunately, that means that traditional workshops and small artisan operations often get missed out. The quantity of advice out there for these types of producers is minimal, if not non-existent.
That’s why we’ve written this blog. Its purpose is to provide you with strategies you can use to achieve process perfection in your small operation. What you’ll read here is simple, common-sense advice, not a bunch of stuff you can’t implement.
So what should you be doing?
Mapping Your Workflow
The first step to improve processes at your workshop is to map your workflow and figure out how people in your organization are actually spending their time. Detailed reviews often reveal tidbits of information that transform your enterprise. You can find areas of redundancy, places where you are duplicating processes, and instances of team members having to wait for previous work to complete before getting on with tasks.
Once you have a map, you can start making improvements. Ideally, you want every team member to be in a position to work, all the time, meaning that each step in the process needs to create plentiful tasks for the following operations.
Embrace Lean Principles
Next, you might want to explore using lean principles. While it might sound like something that’s only for big manufacturers, it’s also for the smaller players.
Being lean is about:-
- Minimizing waste
- Optimizing your use of resources
- Continually reflecting on processes and improving them
Ultimately, applying lean principles iteratively makes your operations more efficient and reduces costs. It also sets you up for success in the future, making you more competitive versus your rivals in your industry.
Another strategy is to improve your tools. While retooling can be expensive, it usually pays for itself in just a few months, thanks to higher output, larger product volumes, and more competitive prices for consumers.
Don’t use equipment that’s going to wear out quickly. For instance, if you have a choice between a carbide end mill and a regular end mill, choose the former, not the latter.
Adopt A Continuous Improvement Culture
You should also adopt a continuous improvement culture. Create an environment where workers feel confident providing feedback and voicing their suggestions to improve process efficiency. Don’t leave it up to the leadership or managers, who don’t always know what’s happening on the workshop floor. Everyone should feel empowered to contribute and make the firm more efficient, not just those at the top.
Monitor And Measure Performance
You should also monitor and measure performance, just like a regular factory or warehouse would. Collecting this data shows you what you’re getting right, and where you need to improve.
Ideally, compare your metrics to industry-standard data. See how you perform compared to your sector as a whole. Take a look at the efficiencies other small workshops are achieving and how you can emulate them. Ensure you always have evidence backing up your decision-making processes.