When decisions are made about continuous improvement projects, factory operators are often left out of the conversation.
However, a key aspect of lean manufacturing is ensuring that every stakeholder has a voice, including people on the factory floor. Your floor operators have a perspective you can’t find in spreadsheets. They know their equipment and processes better than anyone, and they should be part of your next continuous improvement project.
When you’re facilitating a continuous improvement project, involving factory operators can have long-lasting benefits. Here, we look at the top three:
1. Highly Engaged Employees Are Essential for Continuous Improvement Projects
If your factory operators feel like they have no say or input into their own work lives, they’re not going to be engaged, and they’re not going to care much about the results of your continuous improvement project. And right now, only 25 percent of manufacturing workers feel engaged.
When you connect with and listen to your floor operators, they will be more engaged, take more pride in what they do, and give you their absolute best. If you make them feel like the best, they will give you the best. Keeping factory operators engaged is key to reaching peak staff performance.
Engaged and appreciated employees will feel more comfortable making out-of-the-box suggestions that could bring surprising new efficiencies, such as an idea that ends up saving more time between every shift change. Having factory operators on board for continuous improvement projects is crucial.
2. You Can Reduce Turnover Costs and Retain Valuable Skills and Talent
You can’t talk about employee engagement without relating it to employee turnover because engaged employees are less likely to quit.
Surprisingly, only 16 percent of U.S. companies track their turnover costs, which is a huge miss. Replacing an employee can cost twice their annual salary plus benefits, and that isn’t even considering the costs of finding someone who can do the job. About 77 percent of manufacturing employers have a difficult time attracting new workers. We are looking at a skills gap that could lead to a dire worker shortage by 2030.
When you make your factory operators part of the continuous improvement conversation, you have more engaged workers who are more likely to stay and keep those endangered skills where you need them. Plus, their years of experience can provide valuable insights into continuous improvement projects.
3. Factory Operators Have Continuous Improvement Solutions
When management talks to the people working on the floor, they learn things they could have never known. Knowledge of some rich details only comes with the experience of being on the floor every day. Factory operators may know why processes that seem like they should work on paper aren’t working in real life, and they often know about machine quirks that others might overlook.
For example, say your reports show that an older machine has a good overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) score and isn’t impeding production. All analyses show that all is well. However, a short conversation with the machine operator on the factory floor reveals that the machine had been taking longer and longer to start every day. Once it is operating, the machine meets its goals, but the operator has been taking twice the time prepping it to perform.
This information reveals the true value of the machine: It needs to be replaced. New machinery is implemented, and the factory starts exceeding its efficiency goals. If no one had spoken to the machine operator, they would have missed this opportunity for continuous improvement.
Additionally, factory operators can give invaluable perspectives into areas of worker fatigue, safety measures that are not being followed to the letter, and potential dangers that were missed during a safety audit.
Combine Your Smart Factory Technology with a Human Perspective
When using Smart Factory technology manufacturers gain such valuable, real-time information that it’s easy to think of cloud-based platforms and sensors as the insightful heroes. After all, Smart Factory tech improves OEE, finds machine and worker efficiencies, and has real and significant impacts on the bottom line.
When operations managers use sensors, Wi-Fi, and cloud technology to look at real-time data and see how any machine on the factory floor is performing, it empowers them to make decisions that have a positive impact across the organization. But technology alone won’t make your factory lean and productive. Human insight is always valuable, which is why both Smart Factory technology and factory operator engagement are imperative to creating the leanest and cleanest factory possible.
Learn More About Improving Shop Floor Management
There’s a lot more to be said about improving shop floor management, which is why Worximity has created this E-book to help managers understand the impact that process line improvements will have on the bottom line.
It’s time to overcome those marketplace challenges using digital technology and the people on your shop floor. Download our Guide to Improving Shop Floor Management with Smart Software now.