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5 Tips for Optimizing Your Industrial Plant’s Performance

 In Plant Manager Tips

Protecting your manufacturing plant from disruptions like the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic and driving sustainable growth requires optimal performance. By fusing innovative technology with strategic practices, you can successfully drive efficiency and output without compromising product quality or the safety of your workforce. 

Plant optimization, which allows owners to get the most out of their facilities, plays a pivotal role in reducing waste, maximizing efficiency, and improving your bottom line. According to Biodiesel Magazine, “Plant optimization is a sound fiscal decision, and it is a key component of good operational management. The decision to pay strict attention to the measurements, controls and efficiencies necessary for optimization not only enhances the plant, but it quite often produces a safer operating facility.”

To set yourself up for success, here are five tips to help you begin improving your plant’s overall performance.


Leverage the Latest Equipment and Technology 

An effective way to enhance operational efficiency is through automation. Whether that be incorporating technology to drive collaboration between workers, automating your supply chain, or replacing certain components and controllers, identifying processes that can be automated will help improve plant performance.  

Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide invaluable insight, improve productivity, conserve vital resources, reduce maintenance costs, and eliminate process inefficiencies. Because the IoT fosters connectivity, smart devices like robots and sensors can be linked together and operated automatically. This technology allows you to utilize predictive analytics and real-time data to monitor equipment to streamline production. 

Similarly, using robotic systems in the plant can help increase worker productivity while reducing long-term costs associated with human error. Robots can be used within dangerous environments and to perform repetitive tasks, which will create safer working conditions for employees and decrease workplace injuries. 


Eliminate Wasteful Practices

According to Processing Magazine, real-time data can “reveal timely insights into every aspect of production, uncovering ways to increase efficiency and productivity, optimally manage suppliers and materials, reduce costs and waste, continuously improve processes and product quality, and much more.”

Data can also be used to eliminate overproduction. When supply continuously outweighs demand, your plant is left with a pile of products that aren’t producing revenue. Instead of wasting valuable time and dollars, those resources can be shifted elsewhere and used more effectively.

Identifying process inefficiencies will play a vital role in ensuring your team’s productivity level remains high while eliminating dollars spent paying for liabilities that don’t directly contribute to plant performance. For example, if you’re employing a traditional tank cleaning method instead of robotic tank cleaning, you’re using a less efficient cleaning process that could affect your plant performance. 

Strong cleaning, maintenance, and storage protocols are essential in preventing the contamination of products in industrial plants. Contaminated or damaged products will ultimately result in delayed delivery dates and wasted money. 

As EAM-Mosca shares, “Your plant’s layout can also play a role in improving or diminishing its efficiency. If employees need to run from one side of the plant to the other to accomplish a single task, the entire process will slow down. The production order and the rate of how frequently you change from making one product to the next can also impact your plant’s workflow.”

From adjusting your plant’s production schedule to streamlining repetitive tasks, even small changes can translate into significant savings over time. 


Stay Up-to-Date on Maintenance

Failing to properly maintain machines and equipment will hinder plant performance on a number of fronts. Neglected equipment doesn’t operate at an optimal level, breaks down more frequently, and can be a safety hazard for workers. 

Rather than being reactive, consider adopting a preventative maintenance schedule. By proactively performing routine cleaning, you’ll effectively prevent unscheduled downtime. As discussed earlier, utilizing data and predictive analytics to forecast maintenance needs and stay up-to-date on equipment performance will ensure potential issues are identified early or prevented altogether. Long term, this strategy will help increase asset and equipment longevity. 


Focus on Safety and Training

Creating a culture that embraces ongoing training and development will equip employees with the knowledge needed to complete their work quickly, safely, and effectively. A LinkedIn study revealed 94% of employees would remain with an employer longer if the company invested in their learning and development. By placing an emphasis on training initiatives, you’ll see a corresponding decrease in turnover and an increase in employee morale. Why? Because workers want to feel valued and appreciated. 

In the industrial environment, placing a focus on safety training will help reduce worker’s compensation claims and drive productivity. Additionally, incorporating an effective safety incentive program will solidify a culture rooted in employee well-being and improve the company’s safety record for days without incident. Whether your goal is to improve a poor safety record or to maintain an already stellar record, incentive programs are an excellent vehicle to meet both goals.

The ROI of training programs is irrefutable – employees will be motivated to work harder for employers who invest in their staff and genuinely care for their best interests. A study of US-based firms by The American Society for Training and Development found that the top quarter of firms, who invested approximately $1,595 per employee in training, saw 24% higher gross profit margin than firms in the bottom quarter (who only invested $128 per employee, on average).


Set Goals for Your Plant

In order to measure your success, it’s important to establish safety and production goals that are attainable and scalable. To get started, benchmark your plant’s current performance using metrics like average downtime, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), schedule/production attainment, reported health and safety incidents, overall operations effectiveness (OOE), revenue per employee, and more. From there, set daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual goals – which will allow you to track improvements, adjust processes as needed, and celebrate each win. 


You Can Maximize Your Plant’s Production

From integrating technology into your workflow to proactively maintaining equipment, the above tips are essential for optimizing your plant’s productivity. Even if you start small, each change you implement can help improve efficiency and, ultimately, increase your bottom line.

Want to learn more about how to improve your plant’s performance? Check out our article on the most inefficient plant processes.

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