Align Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) With Your End Goals
Most companies are experts in their respective fields, but still struggle to make progress in their continuous improvement initiatives. This is why you should rely on the expertise of skilled consultants to help you determine and monitor the right key performance indicators (KPIs). Having the right KPIs helps you achieve your desired results.
Choose the right KPIs and monitor them
A big part of developing stronger management techniques is knowing which numbers to keep track of. Many executives base their managerial style on end results and forget that syncing current processes with end goals is the only way to achieve lasting success. If you find that your planned improvements are not materializing in the way you expected, you might want to focus on making KPIs more central to your management philosophy. Additionally, try to make sure that your KPIs are linked to actionable items. For example, when attempting to raise efficiency at your manufacturing plant, the right KPIs tell you where you are in relation to where you want to be. If faster changeovers is what you need, your areas for improvement should be clearly indicated in process documents. Accordingly, you can focus on maintenance, schedules, idle time, staging areas, or whatever issue is causing the delay in production.
Often, consulting engagements involve a process of re-education where clients are shown a better way to use their existing systems. Just because a particular company has skilled technicians and makes a good product does not mean they are operating at maximum potential. If you believe you have areas where you can improve, ask yourself these questions: Are you focusing on the right outputs? Do you interpret your reports correctly? Are you getting information from the plant floor with the necessary frequency?
“Integrate your technology systems and tools with existing processes.”
Technology is secondary to processes and training
You have sophisticated systems in your facilities. You might even think that the various projects you have planned, such as manufacturing line optimization, reliability centered maintenance, and installing smart sensors can get you closer toward your production goals. While that may be true, knowing how to use your technology well is of paramount importance. By bringing in outside perspectives, you can realize where your technology systems and tools may be out of sync with your operation processes. A new set of eyes can help you see how your technology systems and existing processes should work together, then assist you in teaching your staff on best practices related to the equipment. Automation alone will not solve your problem in the same way that having more workers does not necessarily mean more productivity.
Embedding your existing technology in processes and training, you will find that you can significantly bolster the bottom line. This type of management approach is also greatly aided by automated data capture and having a sophisticated management operating system. Armed with these tools, you can make lasting changes at your facility.
Train employees to become project stakeholders
One of the first things a good consultant should do at your site is identify key personnel that can carry the changes and promote new methodologies going forward. Keep in mind, training stakeholders on how to effectively use KPIs, integrate automated data capture, and document processes ensures that improvements continue to take place long after a project is officially over. You can also rely on these staff members when training new employees on best practices.
Some companies like to focus on the financial information, other companies lean toward engineering metrics and raw data. Either way, by putting certain individuals in charge of the KPIs that matter the most, you can make the continuous improvement methodology work for you.
Having the right KPIs lets you leverage all of your assets to work in unison.
Linking disparate systems together
It is not unusual for companies to have disparate systems, from different eras, located in one facility. If this is true for you, you may not need to replace your current equipment, but you do need to match outputs from the assets to achieve uniformity. An operations consultant can help you connect the outputs from different machinery for accurate KPI reporting. Also, if you rely on dozens of computer platforms to manage your assets, virtualization could be your next step toward efficiency.
Virtualization offers firms the opportunity to consolidate IT assets, reduce expenditure, and update applications from one central location. Perhaps plant equipment will remain the same, but the software and execution system you use to manage those assets can help unify them. This can greatly strengthen your IT capability.
As previously mentioned, addressing processes is an essential part of optimizing plant production. The more diligent and organized you are about updating your standard operating procedures, the easier it will be for you to achieve consistency in workflows and train staff on best practices. Today, technology is advancing faster than people are gaining skills and expertise. If inefficiencies continue to bother you, fix your current way of doing things. Then a new automated system can follow.