From Good to Great: 5 Shops That Need Transformation
Continuous improvement is critical to manufacturing success. Stay still and the competition will pass you; fall behind and other shops won’t give you a chance to catch up. But how do you define your strategy so you’re poised to increase your productivity?
From our experience, the items below include broad explanations of where we see customers struggle to implement lasting change. Do any of these examples sound familiar?
1. YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
Like your machines, your processes can benefit from a regular check-up. If that analysis reveals a problem, you can address it before it stops you from meeting your production goals. Once you correct it, you’ll have a better idea of how to capitalize on your shop’s strengths.
2. YOU NEED A NEW IMPROVEMENT TARGET
At some point, even the best shops run out of easy targets for optimization. Obtaining a fresh perspective can identify less-obvious ways to keep your business growing. This is the best approach if your shop is ready to move forward but you need help deciding where to go next.
3. YOU HAVE MORE IDEAS THAN CAPACITY
When you’re full of ideas but can’t choose which one to pursue first, a partner can look at your operation and recommend the best applications of your capabilities and capacity. Review and prioritize your plans to determine which to implement now and which to save for later.
4. YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU MEASURE UP
Where are you relative to your competition? If you don’t know, you can’t capitalize on competitive advantages or minimize a weakness that holds you back. Support from an unbiased external source can show you where you stand and guide you to improvements.
5. YOU’RE READY TO TURN OVER THE KEYS TO A NEW OWNER
Selling a business is a lot like selling a house – including pre-sale inspections and renovations. An outside opinion can help you maximize the value of your business before you sell. If you’re the buyer, a third party can audit a potential acquisition with you to ensure that you know what you’re getting.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Whether you see yourself in the list above or you’re facing some other obstacle to optimal manufacturing, view your shop objectively and identify areas for corrective action. You can engage external resources to aid your analysis, but take three simple steps to maximize your transformation experience before you look outside your shop for answers.
1. DEFINE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
A proper mission statement and five-year growth strategy are helpful, but what you really need are clear business goals. Do you want to expand into a particular region or industry? Are you interested in winning back market share from a competitor? Once you know your destination, you can find the right path to reach it.
2. PREPARE YOUR TEAM FOR TRANSPARENCY
Yes, you need the commitment of your entire management team to transform your operations, but if your operators aren’t equally enthusiastic, you’ll either stay stuck in a rut or make changes that don’t endure. From the front office to the shop floor, prepare your entire staff to participate in the process, and include everyone in cross-departmental, cross-level communications. This level of transparency makes hard-to-find problems easier to spot and resolve.
3. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR HONESTY
Obviously, without accurate, reliable data, you can’t analyze your shop and identify where you truly stand. Reassure your team that they’re free to be completely open and honest throughout the transformation process – and remind them to avoid guessing their answers. After all, what your team does and doesn’t know represents part of what drives continuous improvement.
Can this process help your shop? Yes, provided that you’re honest with yourself and willing to examine every aspect of what you do. Along with your own open-minded evaluation of your operations, an outside analysis based on data-driven methodologies can provide you with a detailed analysis of your production system. If you look for an external view of your operations, choose a partner who understands your industry from the inside out.
If you’re interested in learning more about manufacturing evaluation, contact Seco for details of our approach.