5 Things You Should Do Immediately to Improve Plant Performance

Declining Performance Chart

Well it turns out, there’s quite a bit of science to the art of plant management. There are hard ways to drive performance and there are easy ways. I’m not going to dig into the hard ways because I’m sure we all know what those are. I will however touch on how the great ones do it. In every factory, there is an abundance of the 8th and often forgotten waste, which is non-utilized talent and ideas. In this post I expose how to harness this abundant resource to drive plant performance. Below are five things you could do within the next month to significantly improve plant performance:

1) Make sure your performance KPI’s are aligned with your plant’s priorities. Wrether it be to reduce costs, increase throughput, increase overall customer service levels, or anything else. Create a consensus on what are the ranked priorities of the plant for the next year, 5 years, and longer term. Then develop a set of KPI’s that immediately reflect your factory’s level of execution around those priorities. KPI’s should be something that can be tracked and managed on at least a daily basis but the more real-time, the better. This increases the actionability of the metrics being tracked. Its a lot more difficult to engage people in a metric that is only updated once a month or less frequently. In manufacturing especially, its wishful thinking to expect people to have an attention span longer than one day.

2) Set daily, weekly, and monthly performance targets for the KPI’s mentioned in step 1. Tie plant bonuses, performance reviews, and other systems that are in place to motivate people to the delivery of performance targets for those KPI’s. For example, a target could be to increase OEE% by 2% each month for an entire year. This would be even more powerful if you were tracking OEE by individual line area so you can easily see what areas need more TLC.

3) Publish the KPI’s in a highly visible location and update as frequently as possible. With today’s performance tracking technology, you can sometimes use monitors that display performance by area in real time. It works great when you can aggregate and summarize performance by area and publish it in an area that’s both highly visible and great for meetings. This sets you up for performance review meetings and makes the areas with greatest opportunities for continuous improvement more evident.

4) Establish escalation protocols for issues. There are 2 types of escalation processes needed. The first is for issues that pose an imminent threat to service levels. Make it clear how long a line should be down before maintenance, supervisors, and managers should be notified and need to get involved. There should be a set of standard actions for the support personnel to follow if they are called upon for help.  Ideally the line operator would initiate the root cause analysis process before calling for help. The help should be equipped with the appropriate training to continue and coach the line operator on the next steps in the RCA process. This should continue up the chain until the issue is fully resolved.

The second type of escalation process is for chronic issues that may hurt efficiency but are often worked around to hit daily targets. However the same rules generally apply. Set standards for how long an issue should persist before it needs to be escalated. Make sure to give your operators enough time to exercise their problem-solving skills before escalating. Also ensure that each level of escalation has a higher capability for problem-solving.

5) Train, train, train, and then execute, execute, execute. Make sure everyone in the organization knows their role and are well prepared to solve the problems that are typical for their area of work. As a leader, all you need to do is make sure everyone is following the protocols and engineer the protocols as needed to get the results you want. The effectiveness of your training and execution will be apparent in the trending of your KPIs, which at this point should mirror your priorities. All you need to do at that point is sit back and watch all your production waste melt away. Then celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Just by publicizing performance and establishing daily management protocols, you will see a significant jump in performance. This is called the Hawthorne effect. Celebrate early success but continue to push for stronger performance over time. From here, you will see a grassroots effort to take initiative on opportunities for further improvement. This usually takes a few months but this is exactly where you want to be.

Good luck in your performance improvement efforts. Feel free to reach out to me if you need assistance with developing a continuous improvement roadmap, training, help with a chronic performance issue, or just need someone to bounce ideas off of.

© Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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