October 31, 2017

Boosting Efficiency in Ways That Work for You

by Joe Erb

Over the past year, I and many of my colleagues have discussed the need for fenestration manufacturers of all types to build new efficiency into their operations. It’s driven by a number of factors, perhaps most prominently the labor shortage that our and many other manufacturing industries currently face. We’re challenged to do more with less—and we can’t keep waiting around to make it happen.

Quanex has introduced Plant Transformation as a way we’re helping our customers rethink operations on the plant floor. Continued success in our industry takes deploying technology in new ways, and investing in your people, your processes, and your partners.

An important thing to remember, however, is that Plant Transformation isn’t achieved in one fell swoop. It’s a process, implementing new initiatives where they make business sense along a path of continuous improvement. And it can be achieved by all fenestration manufacturers, big or small.

Here are a few ways that that Plant Transformation can be achieved at any scale:

Question processes and think differently.

It doesn’t take a major capital investment to take a critical eye to your own processes and ask yourself: “Is this the best way to accomplish this task?” The answer might not be immediate, and it might not always be easy, but consider a few scenarios:

  • You have implemented a software solution to integrate IG processing, but employees are still relying on paper forms to track units around the plant floor.

  • You have automated a few areas of your plant, but production is maxed out due to your available workforce. There’s demand to move more product out of your plant—but running a third shift to meet it doesn’t quite make sense.

  • You’ve automated spacer application, but you haven’t adjusted your raw materials supply chain, and you’ve found yourself scrambling to keep the pace of your new capabilities.

There are ways to improve each of these scenarios. Paper can and should be eliminated from plant floor operations when everything is trackable via software. When your manpower isn’t meeting demand, an investment in greater automated capabilities could be the answer. And your raw materials supply needs to be considered along with every other operation in your plant when it comes to implementing new capabilities. I’ve said it before: It’s not your grandfather’s shop floor anymore. Treating it appropriately can help you improve operations at every level.

Deepen your relationships and connections.

I wrote recently about the value of outside perspectives  when it comes to driving efficiency in your operations. That’s true at any level of sophistication on the plant floor, and can be especially valuable if you’re taking up new initiatives.

And at a time when the industry is facing some widespread challenges, it takes working together to overcome them. Forging good working relationships with your vendors and partners can lead to greater success, no matter where you are in your journey toward continuous improvement.

 Link to the plant audit blog when live.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Joe.Erb@Quanex.com.

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: October 31, 2017 by Joe Erb Filed under: efficient, Plant, transformation