Downtime is inevitable. Despite our best efforts to keep lines humming, forces beyond our control can slow or stop production. But that doesn’t mean we need to lose productivity. Savvy businesspeople prepare for the unexpected. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your time when manufacturing is offline:
- Train employees in different areas. Preparing employees for other jobs has several benefits. Cross-training gives you a contingency plan when staffers fall ill, take time off, or suddenly quit. Expanded training opportunities and professional development can increase your and your staff’s value. Plus, you never know what you can gain from getting a new perspective on an old task. Someone may develop a more efficient method for when your production line comes back online.
- Get out of a bottleneck. Downtime is a good opportunity to assess efficiency. If one production line task takes longer than expected, it slows everything else down. Come up with a way to track each task to determine productivity. Some company leaders use automated systems; others write things down. See what works best for you.
- Address safety. When team members rush tasks, inattention can jeopardize integrity and safety. Downtime is a good time to evaluate safety protocols. If one part of the line is down, it’s also a good opportunity to conduct repairs elsewhere on the line. Whatever it is, safety first is not just a slogan — safety should be a part of the entire business culture.
- Plan for success. Set goals, analyze efficiency, stock inventory, and assess orders. If you have the time, plan for what’s coming down the line in your business future. Planning may also prevent additional downtime down the road.
- Get creative. Each organization is different, so only you’ll know what works for your business — but now is a great time to try new ideas. And don’t forget to talk to your staff: They may have some creative ideas of their own.
- Address maintenance. A comprehensive maintenance plan is a good way to prevent future problems with manufacturing equipment. But you need to update and change it as new employees and equipment join the setup. Downtime is as good a time as any for this task and can save you energy in the long run.
Although you can’t avoid it, you can make the most of downtime and avoid future production stops by catching additional issues before they become problems. When you use downtime to focus on enhancing other manufacturing aspects, you never stop helping your employees improve, which makes your line — and business — safer and more efficient.