Most small businesses have to innovate constantly to stay competitive. This is particularly important in your assembly operations where speed and accuracy mean success. Stoppages, poor processes and obsolete technology can lead to production losses.
At Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, we have been providing quality assembly services for small businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area for decades. Here are some tips for evaluating your assembly service based on what we’ve learned along the way.
1) Look for simple process improvements
Continuous process improvement should be a company goal. Involving all of your assembly employees in the process improvement effort is the wisest approach. There are many proven tools and methods you can use to identify leaner processes, which will reduce labor, time on the line, and chances for mistakes. A process engineering consultant can also help you streamline your processes.
2) Automate where you can
Many processes can be made more simple if you automate them. You don’t have to fully automate every step at once. Partially automating your assembly will save time, and in the long-term, money. But don’t ever forget that your greatest asset is a motivated workforce!
3) Rethink the plant layout
Employees, equipment, parts bins, and workstations can create a large footprint. Design your floorplan to refine assembly flow, increase productivity and minimize waste. Flexibility is the key here. If your goal is to continually evaluate and improve processes, you may be arranging your equipment more than once.
4) Embrace new technologies
Now that you’ve designed a new floorplan, it may be time to consider integrating some new technologies into the system. Some new equipment may be able to accomplish more in a smaller package. Uses of new technologies can help with many aspects of assembly including bottleneck analysis and auto stoppage when errors occur. For example, assistance alert technology allows one employee to monitor many work areas from one location. If problems occur, the employee can manually stop the line to immediately improve quality. Another type of alert technology allows company leadership to access real-time production data, anywhere, any time, and on any device.
5) Ergonomics has value
Employee morale is important. Studies have shown that the work environment plays a large role in optimizing output. Improvements to your assembly space may be as simple as adding more lighting, or as comprehensive as adding equipment designed to place the part in the correct position for the employee to grab (also reduces wasted movements). Modern manufacturing theories indicate a more aesthetically pleasing work environment increases overall productivity.
6) Redesign employee workstations
As a subset of the work environment, redesigning individual assembly work stations is a modernization must. Building a one-of-kind workspace to meet the needs of employees at each functional step along the line increases assembly efficiency. Making tools and other accessories accessible saves wasted steps and reduces cycle time.
7) Redesign your product parts
Your product parts can be redesigned too. Some time ago, the National Cash Register Company (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio, redesigned individual parts of their electronic cash register and reduced the number of parts from 75 to 15. Among the many benefits of this practice is a reduction in inventory, cycle time, and shipping weight.
At Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, we are always looking for ways to improve the way we provide assembly services to small businesses. Contact us for a free tour of our facilities, and let’s see what we can build together!