Empowered workers deliver value

In all of the best practices discussed throughout 2011, it is the practice of investigation and discovery that is at the core of all of them.

01/21/2012


Productivity is not an event; it is a process. Finding better ways to operate your plant is a constant search for the small nuggets of opportunity to improve. Big areas for improvement, like energy management or maintenance strategy, should be fairly obvious. They also tend to be those things which your management team should be leading.

The smaller productivity improvements are things that are often self-evident to your line workers, your union leaders and maybe even your temporary workers. How are you engaging these workers to help you become more productive?

In all of the best practices discussed throughout 2011, it is the practice of investigation and discovery that is at the core of all of them. That can be a singular process that will produce singular results, but those organizations that succeed at it make it a group effort that yields many times more results.

At this stage of manufacturing’s continuing evolution in America, the idea of engaging your workforce should be fully engrained. Yet we hear all the time of manufacturers who have just now discovered the power of unleashing their workforce to drive continuing improvement within their operations.

The idea of continuous improvement has three legs to it. One is equipment. Putting the right tools in the hands of skilled workers will produce excellent results. Putting good tools in their hands will produce good results. It is measuring the gap between what a good tool can earn and what the right tool can earn can be significant.

Another leg is process. A well-designed, well-conceived system, whether it is discrete or process manufacturing, frees workers to use their skills and knowledge to achieve better finished goods. The emphasis is on the end produce because the system is sound and effective.

The third, of course, is people. Where machines operate and processes are executed on, people are variables. They think and see and react and know. It is that knowing that we can tap into better. It is their innate ability to analyze and imagine that is the most powerful tool on the plant floor – and often the least utilized.

Of all best practices in manufacturing, the one we see most often leading to success – defined both in productivity and profitability – is a practice where people are empowered to improve the manufacturing operation. You’re already paying for their presence, and their knowledge really costs nothing more. You’ve changed nothing but the impression that your workers are your most valuable resource.

That one best practice makes all of the other best practices even more valuable.


Best Practices

 



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me