Do you have any management or operational power at your machine shop? If so, you should take it upon yourself to analyze and restructure your procedures for maximum efficiency. Your facility’s output is what drives sales—the more you can make, the more you can sell. If you want to take your operation to the next level, explore these quick tips for maximizing machine shop productivity.

Start at the Beginning

One of the easiest and most overlooked methodologies for operational analysis is simply starting at the beginning. To conduct a thorough, well-informed, and intentional assessment, you need the fullest picture of your product life cycle from raw material delivery to end-product distribution.

Walk Through Each Step

The simple act of walking through each step of the product journey in your facility will tell you a lot about how your business functions. Though you can probably recite the stages from memory, seeing them in action is quite another story. A physical walkthrough gives you and your fellow assessors firsthand experience with the tasks your coworkers perform.

You don’t want to give your staff the impression that you’re watching them and reviewing their performance. While employee productivity is an essential item on your checklist, it isn’t the sole reason for production issues. Inefficiencies often lie in unexpected places, and it’s your job to root them out.

What To Look For in a Walkthrough

It’s one thing to walk around your facility with a clipboard; it’s quite another to record meaningful observations and data about your productivity. As you walk through the facility, keep your eyes open for the following things:

  • Production bottlenecks. A bottleneck is a point of congestion due to an overload of materials. When the prior stage of the process outpaces the next stage, whoever is working down the line will feel the pressure mounting. Look for piles of workpieces that advance quickly in one stage but not in another.
  • Unnecessary downtime. Downtime is a taboo in the machining industry. An automated machine that’s not working is one that’s wasting money. A machine can work 24/7/365 with proper care. And if you see any unscheduled employee downtime, you should take note and find ways to encourage employees to maintain high levels of focus and productivity throughout the day.
  • Machine ineffectiveness. Machines can be fickle friends, especially if they cause problems in your production process. Machine ineffectiveness will quickly stop up your shop workflow. For instance, one machine may not work as quickly or intensely as the others, slowing up half of the production floor. An ineffective machine with continuous time gaps will lead to significant total downtime. Furthermore, these inefficiencies hint at something mechanically wrong with the tool. It may be vulnerable to complete breakdown if not handled soon.

Pour Into Your People

Your people are the experts who handle your machines day after day. They’re your greatest asset, so don’t forget to pour into them as much as they pour into the business. Just like the machines on the production floor, your people need continuous maintenance to update their skills and improve their workflows.

Schedule Team-Building Meetings

Your staff members want to feel connected to each other and to you just as much as to their work. While the work itself is the primary reason you all spend hours together each day, this doesn’t mean you have a cohesive team. Schedule team-building meetings and exercises so you can build camaraderie among your staff. The more people get to know each other, the greater their sense of ownership and dedication to their workplace—and by extension, their work product. Consider fun events or interesting activities everyone can do together.

Offer Skills-Based Trainings

Your next great leader already works with you—all you must do is help them achieve their goals. If you have dedicated, hard-working staff, you know their value extends far beyond their rate of production into their commitment to the shop. Do you want to promote from within? Then, begin pouring into the people with leadership potential and lofty goals.

You should offer skills-based training both in technical and leadership categories. The more opportunities you place in front of people, the more you’ll see the top contenders emerge. Those who are eager for more responsibility will show up to your trainings and engage with you after hours. Keep an eye out for management-material employees and invite them into a mentor-like relationship.

Incorporate Smart Machines

Machines are at the core of machine shop practices. If you run with outdated machines, you’ll effectively cripple your operational output. Instead of relying on old but safe tech, consider introducing smarter machines. The front-end cost of these systems may feel staggering, but their long-term impact is undeniable.

Computer-Guided Systems

These days, computers are at the core of many industrial practices. With computer numerical control systems, you can rely on mathematically precise machines to cut software-created designs into workpieces. CNC machining is an effective way to maximize machining efficiency while reducing human error. If you’re interested in adding CNC machines to your manufacturing process, explore our metal fabrication equipment for sale at Mac-Tech.

Industrial Internet of Things

The industrial internet of things, or IIoT, is a term that describes the interconnected technologies that feed data through each other and influence production-wide tasks for maximum productivity. It may require some time for you and your staff to become well-versed in handling a new IIoT system, but the benefits far outweigh the downsides. With a software-accessible IIoT, you can manipulate machines from a central device, even when offsite. Bring your machine shop efficiency to the next level with CNC machines integrated into a larger IIoT network.

Remember these quick tips for maximizing machine shop productivity as you assess and restructure your business practices. The more resources you pour into maximizing production, the quicker your business will flourish. If you have any questions about CNC machining or computer-guided metalworking, reach out to our industry experts at Mac-Tech today. With decades of experience, we can help you strengthen your business from the inside out.

Quick Tips for Maximizing Machine Shop Productivity

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