Safety regulations can be used to increase production

You must use techniques to maintain your employees’ health and safety while still meeting your production goals. Start by understanding some of the causes for fluctuations and safe solutions.

By Christina Chatfield, HARTING United States of America August 20, 2014

In a perfect world, production would flow seamlessly. Materials would always be available and equipment would never break down. Purchase orders from clients would never have rush deadlines, production would never fluctuate and your operations would be smooth and effortless.

The real world simply does not work that way. Production flows decrease and increase, and in the meantime you need to keep your business operational and workers safe. You must use techniques to maintain your employees’ health and safety while still meeting your production goals. Start by understanding some of the causes for fluctuations and safe solutions.

Equipment failures

Any equipment failure can dramatically reduce your company’s ability to keep production flowing. Equipment maintenance is important for both safety and volume issues. Many businesses face an inability to keep up with required service due to production goals that do not allow for machine downtime.

Unless your facility runs 24 hours a day, try to arrange for equipment servicing to be performed during off production hours. Without the proper maintenance, your machinery will fail. The cost of the failures outweighs the cost of occasional downtime.

Supply chain failures

Material shortages will bring your manufacturing to a halt. Make use of one of the many software programs available for Enterprise Relationship Management (ERP). Effective inventory control and supplier management will decrease the potential for failures in your supply chain.

Overtime and temporary help for production surges

One of the most common methods of dealing with production flow issues is having employees work overtime. While many workers embrace the extra hours to earn extra income, safety hazards increase as employee hours increase. Without enough time off to rest, workers become more prone to accidents.

Risks from increasing hours also include:

  • Increased exposure to noise or hazardous materials. To combat this problem, make sure that all workers have access to personal protective equipment and are fully trained in the use.
  • Repetitive motion injuries. Consider rotating employee jobs. By cross-training employees to perform additional tasks, you also increase your available workforce. As an employer you actually have several options for increasing production volume without overburdening your employees. This first step is to look at your production lines to decide if all systems are operating efficiently.

You may find that some areas of your production are delayed while waiting for another operation to be completed. In this situation, you might consider staggering the starting times for workers in different production areas.

Consider adding additional employees. You may well find individuals that would be happy to work on a part-time or as-needed basis. Temporary employment agencies offer another solution to fluctuations in production. When investigating the possibility of this type of service, keep in mind that these workers will require job and safety training.

There are several rules you should not break in an effort to increase production:

  • Employees should not work alone in hazardous operations
  • Unskilled labor should not work without adequate supervision
  • Workers should never be permitted to remove safety guards from machinery to increase production speed

Can you safely increase job speeds?

While efficiency experts can find ways to speed up jobs or portions of jobs, safety should never be sacrificed to increase production. You can analyze the areas where lags in production occur and determine if a solution is available. For example, if tooling is breaking and stopping production, you need higher quality tooling.

Simply increasing the speed of conveyors is not an answer. In some parts of your facility, increased speed may enhance production without compromising safety. Unfortunately, in many cases, you not only open the door to worker injury, you also risk product quality.

Plan in advance

Proper planning will control many of the production fluctuations you face. If your production has seasonal increases, you should be prepared before the situation becomes an emergency. For example, if you have utilized cross training, your workers can pull away from lower priority projects to work on orders with critical deadlines. You may never gain full control of the ebb and flow of production; however, you can keep your facility running safely through it.

About the author:
Christina Chatfield is Marketing Communications Manager of HARTING United States of America in Elgin, IL. HARTING Technology Group develops and manufactures electrical and electronic components, including industrial cables, connectors and wires.