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Rob Press

Management

The Manufacturing Manager’s Guide to HR

Four simple tips to optimize your workforce

Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - 12:03

Without the perfect balance of efficient workers, adequate resources, and satisfied customers, manufacturing businesses risk sending their operations into a tailspin.

Workforce optimization (WFO) streamlines manufacturing workflow by cutting costs and increasing productivity—allowing you to equilibrate critical manufacturing tasks such as product planning, resource allocation, staff scheduling, and product shipping.

Here, we’ll show you four tips that will help you easily optimize your workforce.

1. Implement better communication systems

It’s time to think outside of the suggestion box—a good bottom-up communication system allows the plant management and the factory floor to better coordinate. This prevents work-related misunderstandings that can lead to poor product quality, delays in the production process, and workers feeling like they aren’t appreciated.

In any manufacturing plant, the factory floor workers have the information on why production is slacking, what machines are acting up, and why there are a lot of late deliveries—and they might have ideas to solve these issues.

Because you’re dealing with a large workforce, you can hold open-floor meetings with each department’s workers and seek their feedback. Find out if the shift hours and the workload are decent and manageable, or if they need extra protective gear.

You might discover that production is lagging, maybe because your workers are strained or there is a machine that’s been breaking down consistently after so many repairs. You can then take up this information with senior management and see how to fix these problems.

As part of having a clear communication system, set precise manufacturing goals and transparently communicate them to your factory workers. It will lead to better engagement and cohesion, and help with achieving planned goals because everyone will know what steps to take.

‘Factory managers should understand the important things workers value about their work in terms of the daily tasks and goals they’re expected to achieve. This creates an employer-employee understanding that helps boost manufacturing productivity.’
—Ben Wigert, Gallup director

2. Align staffing and production plans

Adopting automated clocking systems helps minimize buddy punching and ensures workers really show up at their work inside the factory.

An automated clock system records and generates detailed time reports—and you get verified information on the time your factory workers clocked in and out. You can easily tell who didn't show up for work, signed in late for their shift, or took extra hours on lunch break. Manufacturing employee scheduling software helps to set realistic shift hours and allot tasks accordingly, aligning workers’ schedules with production plans.

As a plant manager, you can employ remote monitoring techniques—video or still CCTV cameras—to see what precisely the workers are doing during their shifts. It’s important to inform your workers that you have cameras in certain workstations to avoid breaching privacy regulations or looking like you’re spying on them. Communicate clearly that you simply monitor their productivity and how they use company time.

Only install cameras around the production floor and storage areas where work-related activities happen. Additionally, to avoid any wrongful video use, ensure that only authorized personnel have access to all the company footage.

3. Squeeze the maximum out of the process automation

Adopting automation technologies increases productivity by enabling factory staff to work faster and more efficiently. As a plant manager, try to integrate different automated technologies in the different manufacturing departments.

For starters, you can install automated cranes to help workers lift heavy loads from one point to another via remote control by the workers. This is a great way to minimize worker exhaustion; heavy lifting can affect their physical and mental health.

Also, you can use the internet of things (IoT) to monitor production status and analyze production data to get valuable inputs for manufacturing decisions.

Another effective manufacturing automation is using collaborative robots (cobots). These can be programmed to enable more efficient product-processing operations. They are also handy for mining factories that handle explosives and other harmful chemicals because they minimize human interaction.

4. Spark motivation in your workers

One common problem with manufacturing companies is dealing with an unmotivated staff on the factory floor—leading to diminished productivity, higher employee turnover, and lower engagement rates.

As a plant manager, provide factory workers with tools, resources, and equipment they need for working safely (such as masks, gloves, and helmets).

Also, build a sense of autonomy by allowing workers to do their job without feeling like they’re being micromanaged all the time. In line with this, you can remotely monitor your workers when necessary or maybe once every shift to see how everything is going. 

Offer bonuses for increased production, either as wage raises or fun gifts. For example, if your monthly target was to manufacture 10,000 more units of a certain product, and the specific workers have achieved this, you should commend them and offer bonuses for a good job. It will motivate other workers to do better as well.

Conclusion

Workforce optimization can help your manufacturing company achieve new heights while slashing overhead costs and balancing operations. It enables you to take bold business actions based on current staff and resource-related data and insights.

Good workforce optimization involves automated factory operations, efficient time management software, and better communication systems. All these optimize manufacturing operations and workflows, promoting greater factory workers’ efficiency, commitment, and output.

Discuss

About The Author

Rob Press’s picture

Rob Press

Rob Press is a content marketing manager at Deputy. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.