Which Roles Will Lead to Improved Manufacturing Plant Efficiency?

Which Roles Will Lead to Improved Manufacturing Plant Efficiency?

In the highly competitive field of manufacturing, any extra bit of plant efficiency can make a difference in overall productivity and profits. Efficient manufacturing plants produce higher-quality products at lower costs. Every manufacturing organization wants to be hiring for efficiency, but the question remains: which roles actually lead to improved manufacturing plant efficiency?

While every manufacturing employee contributes to improving efficiency, a handful of positions offer the most value. Hiring leaders and recruiters for manufacturing plants should look at the value these three roles provide. Choosing the right candidates for these roles makes hiring for efficiency an attainable goal.

Role #1: Plant Manager

Unsurprisingly, the plant manager is the linchpin of efficiency in manufacturing plants. After all, effective plant management sets the vision and direction for manufacturing operations. A robust plant manager candidate enhances efficiency through solid leadership and maximization of productivity.

One of the most effective routes to efficiency is when plant managers implement lean manufacturing principles. According to industry magazine Manufacturing.Net, lean manufacturing originated in Japanese manufacturing plants like Toyota. It was there that the five lean principles were first put into place:

  1. Identify value: Include products that meet customer needs; remove the rest.
  2. Map the value stream: Create a product lifecycle map and look for efficiency opportunities.
  3. Create flow: Remove interruptions and delays from the product life cycle.
  4. Establish pull: Ensure each step of the flow leads to the next.
  5. Seek perfection. Refine all manufacturing processes to perfection.

Establishing lean principles has tremendous potential for efficiency, and a plant manager’s role is to implement and maintain these systems. Hiring for efficiency thus starts with a plant manager who shares this vision and can lead with a lean mindset of continuous improvement.

Role #2: Operations Manager

Operations management is closely related to plant management but with an even stronger focus on optimizing productivity. Whereas the plant manager is responsible for a high-level vision, the operations manager is involved with the details. For instance, workforce scheduling typically falls to the operations manager, and optimized scheduling is a great opportunity for efficiency enhancement.

Inventory management is also an operation manager’s duty at most manufacturing plants. Identifying and resolving inventory bottlenecks helps meet customer demand while preventing costly overstocks and understocks. Too often, time is wasted on sourcing raw materials and other necessary components. Operations managers improve efficiency by keeping production lines and supply chains in motion.

The best operations managers approach their roles from a quality control (QC) mindset. Effective QC minimizes equipment maintenance schedules, which reduces downtime. QC also applies to the end product, ensuring that only the highest quality products reach customers. Today’s Industry 4.0 smart factories can even use predictive maintenance techniques, which studies show reduces maintenance planning time by as much as 50%.

According to IndustryWeek, operations managers help optimize efficiency through cost management, streamlined process management, and sustainable practices. When it comes to hiring for efficiency, there’s a real case to be made for a strong operations manager.

Role #3: Engineers

Engineering innovations are at the heart of modern manufacturing efficiency. System engineers introduced the automation and robotics that formed Industry 4.0 and smart factories, creating a new era of efficient manufacturing plants. Human error and production slowdowns are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the technological improvements that engineers offer.

Additive manufacturing, CNC machining, and 3D printing are just some engineering breakthroughs that make plant operations more efficient. System engineers design and integrate these technologies, which help to reduce waste and production time. The same can be said for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, which monitor and automate much of the manufacturing process. According to the noted consulting firm McKinsey, manufacturing organizations that adopt Industry 4.0 see up to 30 percent improvements in productivity and 35 percent more accurate forecasting.

Engineers are also responsible for energy efficiency efforts in today’s manufacturing plants. From equipment that uses far less energy than its predecessors to improved insulation custom-designed for each plant, system engineers’ primary goal is sustainability. This keeps manufacturing organizations in line with regulatory requirements while reducing costs and attracting customers. If hiring for efficiency is your goal, it’s hard to ignore what engineers offer manufacturing plants.

Hiring for Optimal Manufacturing Efficiency

So, which of these three roles brings the most improvements to manufacturing efficiency? It really depends on the needs of a given organization. If a company has already adopted Industry 4.0 technology, it may gain more efficiency from the plant manager or operations manager roles. And in any case, efficiency is unique to every manufacturing organization and the needs of their customers. However, hiring for efficiency in nearly all cases will start with one of these three roles.

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