Your shop floor is constantly alive with activity. Raw materials arrive, units are assembled and finished products are shipped to customers. In an ideal scenario, it’s a smooth-running process you can depend on to keep up with your day-to-day production schedules.

But many different factors can interrupt even the best laid plans, especially as our industry continues to unbury itself from backlogs and meet high levels of demand. So what can you do to mitigate interruptions and get the most from your available plant floor space? We’ll tell you in today’s tip:

Always Stay Organized.

Taking the time to think critically about the organization and optimization of your plant floor isn’t always easy, but it is important. The right organizational strategies can be key to maximizing your plant floor space, achieving higher overall productivity, enhancing product quality and maintaining consistency. Though many conversations for higher efficiency and productivity today revolve around investments in automated equipment, there are other, simpler techniques that can be applied in any plant. Here are a few of them:

  • Proper labeling and stocking. One familiar phrase you might hear as it relates to continuous improvement, lean, 5S or other manufacturing methodologies is this: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”That philosophy begins as soon as your raw materials arrive in the receiving area. Whether it’s vinyl extrusion, glass, hardware, spacers or any other component, everything should be clearly marked and organized by material type. That way, everything will be easy to find and move into your production line when needed. Scattered storage of your components and raw materials can take up unnecessary space and requires more work to locate—and that can cost you.
  • Shipping organization. Like your raw materials receiving and storage spaces, your finished products at the end of the production process should be effectively organized and optimized. Barcoding and software systems have enabled many forward-thinking manufacturers to track their products at any point throughout the plant floor, and to organize each product down to how, where and when each is delivered to the end customer. This not only creates greater efficiency but minimizes the movement of your windows and doors once they’re on the delivery truck, effectively reducing the risk of scratching or other damage.

 

  • Outsource to save on labor and floor space. In a market where finding labor remains a challenge, it’s important to allocate your best employees to the highest value tasks on your plant floor.Window screens, for example, are often challenging to manufacture while offering little in terms of value-add to your finished product. Customers simply expect screens—they’re a necessity, but traditionally not an area where window and door manufacturers are able to differentiate or innovate. Not only does screens processing eat up labor, but it can take up valuable floor space that manufacturers can use for something that contributes greater value to the end users. Outsourcing screens production with a trusted supplier can help ensure high quality and consistency for your screens.

Are your plant processes organized and optimized for efficient production? It’s a question worth asking yourself as residential window and door manufacturers everywhere continue to grapple with challenging market conditions—and your answer can make a big impact on your business.

John Ryba is Technical Services Manager for Quanex.

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