To improve performance, measure, monitor and manage

In a rapidly evolving industry, manufacturing executives might feel a little uncertain about what to focus on to ensure success in 2015. At, John Renick, director of partner solutions at Meridium, has suggested three "M's" to achieve success in the industry this year: measure, monitor and manage. Renick goes into detail about each of these key areas in an essay he published this week. 

The upside of his suggestions is that Renick advocates for bolstering efforts that are already innate to manufacturing operations. Here are Renick's points in more depth:

1. Measure

What Renick says: "When engineers identify abnormalities such as a sudden vibration increase in a compressor or high temperature trends, they must determine the root cause of the problem before a machine trips or equipment fails."

One of the benefits of advanced manufacturing and improved factory technology is that data is more accessible than ever. Upgrading existing equipment with the necessary features to gauge performance data can shine a spotlight on trouble spots so that they can be addressed on the front end. The more proactive operations are about identifying trends and baselines in factory performance, the more readily they can respond when something goes wrong. This can prevent lost time and even recalls if a factory issue leads to manufacturing problems. 

2. Monitor

What Renick says: "Once the problem is detected through regular measurements, close monitoring provides the information needed to effectively identify, evaluate and respond to events while keeping assets online for continued operation. Further, automated monitoring and response to these conditions frees up resources to perform additional activities to enhance overall productivity."

Data is only valuable if you watch it, Renick explains. Keeping a close eye on the systems and equipment, as well as employee performance, helps reveal pressure points along the production chain. Monitoring should happen on a continuous basis but you might also consider implementing a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual review of overall methods and efficiency. Executives in manufacturing should aim for a 360 degree view of their business in order to make adjustments that can improve efficiency. 

3. Manage

What Renick says: "Executives and operators need the end-to-end picture of operations to drive impactful change. Being able to leverage information from equipment and asset strategies as well as methodologies such as risk based inspection (RBI) adds clarity and stimulates cross functional 'integrity' team building and exchange of best practices."

Executives need the resolve to implement strategies that speak to findings in the data they collect. This means taking initiative and not being afraid of change. Trying something new, whether it's a pilot productivity idea or a better piece of equipment, should be embraced and not resisted. Growing companies lean into change and take decisive action to better their business models. 

Odds are, your company is already doing all of these things to improve profit margins and enhance performance. Giving them extra attention in 2015 can help you devise a more long-term strategy for your organization's growth and expansion. Whether performance data shows you that your company is understaffed or needs to invest in more infrastructure, measuring, monitoring and managing the floor lends insights and takeaways that lead to meaningful improvements. 

This is advice that small machine shops and large manufacturing operations alike can prioritize in their corporate strategy. With these management practices, companies can get closer to meeting their growth objectives.