If you’re responsible for the smooth running of the factory floor, you will face a multitude of tasks. Planning work schedules, setting targets, checking quality, delivering on-time and managing operators – these are just for some of the essential duties on your weekly ‘to-do’ list. Other activities, like ensuring that your processes are cost-effective, or implementing continuous improvement programmes, may slip down your list of priorities – especially when you have everyday troubleshooting thrown into the mix.

So how can you regain control of the shop floor, without embarking on a wholesale, probably unachievable, factory upgrade programme?

Fortunately, it can be relatively quick and painless to improve operator performance with the help of some technology. Here are seven performance ‘hacks’ that you can use to get the best out of your shop floor using Mestec’s system.

1: Use real-time ‘work-to’ lists

Job lists captured on paper can be out of date as soon as they leave the printer. Mestec’s system is smart enough to only present jobs that are ready, where pre-requisite steps have already been completed. They give operators a real-time list of jobs in order of priority, ensuring that they work on tasks that are important for the business – not what they feel like doing next.

2: Provide live job reporting

How much more time would you have in your day if you didn’t have constant interruptions from the sales team asking about job progress and ship dates?

A live feed of task start and finish information, fed from the factory floor to a management dashboard, will give your client-facing personnel exactly the information they need to set expectations with customers.

3: Gather cost data while you work

Production managers can spend hours trying to figure out how much a job has actually cost, especially when it requires manually gathering information from time sheets.

Once Mestec’s system has knowledge of individual task start and stop times, which it gets from each operator’s workstation, it becomes a push-button exercise to automate time tracking (both man hours and elapsed hours) for all completed operations. Add this to a real-time log of materials used, and you will be able to calculate actual job costings far more accurately and rapidly than ever before. Comparing actual costs to standard costs is key to seeing where you can improve productivity.

4: Budget for failures

Accurately tracking operator time opens up a treasure chest of useful data. Mestec’s system will calculate the wasted time and materials associated with rejects and test failures, giving you the cost of poor quality. The same data provides the key to finding the root causes of specific quality issues, enabling you to address them quickly and efficiently, whether they are material related or operator procedure.

5: Empower operators

It’s human nature to want to do better – but to do better we need to know how we’re doing now, and what we need to do to improve.

By giving your operators feedback about their performance you will empower them to become more productive. Using Mestec’s solution it’s easy to provide feedback at individual operator, team, and production line level. People can see how they are contributing to the business and pinpoint what they need to do to improve.

Transparency and accountability are the foundations of a continuous improvement culture.

6: Stop chasing paper

All of these performance improvements depend on transitioning away from paper-based data collection to using software applications instead to capture data at source, and then track, store and analyse it.

Having operators write down task times on paper creates a source of error that is hard to recover from. Even if each operator mis-records the time he or she spends on a particular task – even if only by a few minutes – aggregating that across multiple tasks, operators and assembly lines has the effect of magnifying small discrepancies into large and significant errors.

Electronic shop floor data collection (SFDC), including the use of electronic build records, saves operator and supervisor time and improves accuracy and material traceability.

7: Replicate best practice

Do you know your optimum workflows? Are your operators following best practice or do you have compliance issues that you need to adhere to?

Mestec gives you the means to easily measure and define the best way to do things. Armed with that knowledge you can encapsulate what good looks like in workflows that all of your operators can follow.

Want to see the Mestec system in action? Join our upcoming webinar where we will show you how you can easily capture real-time manufacturing data, analyse performance and make significant improvements to the productivity performance of your business. Simply sign up here.

Alternatively get in touch today to start the process of boosting the performance of your factory floor.