Navigating challenges with technology and best practices. By Lyndsey Nelson

In the ever-evolving landscape of industrial and manufacturing operations, leaders find themselves facing an array of challenges – from economic uncertainties and supply chain disruptions to labor force limitations and uncontrollable external factors. Amid these complexities, the pursuit of profitability becomes a dynamic balancing act. While they may not have full control over every economic variable, industrial leaders can steer their companies toward success by harnessing technology and adopting best practices that maximize efficiency, quality, safety, and team morale.

In this article, we delve into three indispensable tips that empower manufacturers to achieve more with less, fostering competitiveness and sustained profitability.

1 Shift your perception of maintenance
Championing profitability entails a shift in mindset. Rather than viewing maintenance as an expenditure center, manufacturers should embrace it as a ‘savings center.’ The ripple effect of proper maintenance radiates through the reduction of indirect costs, ultimately bolstering the bottom line. Minimized downtime, fewer repairs, and reduced replacements lead to substantial savings and, potentially, increased profitability.

One critical aspect of this shift is reducing reactive maintenance. By shifting from a reactionary approach to a proactive one, companies can significantly lower overhead costs. The saying ‘a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned’ rings true here. When you save money through effective maintenance practices, you not only avoid immediate costs but also escape the associated taxes that come with earning that same amount. This concept adds an extra layer of financial benefit to the proactive maintenance strategy.

Awareness is paramount in this context. Implementing periodic inspections and embracing sensor technology for continuous asset monitoring enables timely intervention, reducing unplanned downtime that can lead to financial losses. The incorporation of these measures requires an organizational shift, positioning maintenance as an investment rather than a mere operational necessity.

2 Have a continuous improvement plan
The adage ‘constant improvement leads to success’ remains ever relevant, especially within the dynamic manufacturing landscape. By establishing a continuous improvement program and harnessing data-driven analytics, manufacturers can shift from reactive to proactive maintenance strategies. This transition translates into improved asset reliability and reduced downtime – two factors critical for enhancing profitability.

A well-structured continuous improvement program involves vigilant monitoring, meticulous analysis, and strategic optimization of maintenance practices. Analyzing data gleaned from comprehensive analytics reports enables manufacturers to identify patterns in failure occurrences, breakdown frequencies, and maintenance trends. With these insights, trends and root causes come to light, facilitating strategic interventions that prevent recurring failures. Indeed, the journey from reactive to proactive maintenance begins with quality data and the will to embrace change.

Modern Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) play a pivotal role in this transformation. These systems empower manufacturers to efficiently manage maintenance tasks, track work orders, and monitor equipment health. By tapping into the full potential of CMMS platforms, manufacturers can harness asset operational data, unveiling inefficiencies and areas susceptible to disruptions. By utilizing this data to proactively avert potential problems, manufacturers can mitigate breakdowns and optimize asset performance – a vital aspect of the ‘do more with less’ approach that drives competitiveness and profitability.

3 Mastering change management
The introduction of transformative technologies like CMMS necessitates adept change management. Overcoming resistance, garnering user buy-in, and providing ongoing support are integral to successful implementation. Approaching this phase strategically ensures that the system is embraced holistically, integrating seamlessly with both technology and human processes.

Incorporating external expertise, such as consultants specialized in CMMS implementation, can prove invaluable. Consultants bring forth best practices, insights from successful implementations, and customized solutions tailored to an organization’s unique requirements. This external perspective often provides innovative solutions and navigational guidance, easing the transition process.

I’d recommend a comprehensive three-pillared framework for effective change management. First, effective communication is paramount; clear, concise messaging that conveys rationale, benefits, and expectations lays the foundation for successful integration. Second, a vigilant approach to change monitoring is essential; manufacturers need to adeptly identify challenges and gauge user acceptance levels, enabling prompt interventions when needed. Finally, leaders should transform change into an engaging and rewarding endeavor through gamification and positive reinforcement. By emphasizing the ‘why’ behind the change, involving employees in the process, and actively recognizing and rewarding positive contributions, leaders can promote a culture of active participation and continuous improvement.

The pursuit of profitability in the manufacturing realm demands a dynamic approach that leverages technology, data, and strategic methodologies. Implementing a continuous improvement plan, recalibrating perceptions of maintenance, and mastering change management not only foster sustained competitiveness but also underscore a commitment to operational excellence and profitability. As industrial leaders navigate the complexities of the modern manufacturing landscape, these strategies serve as beacons guiding the way to a prosperous and resilient future.

Lyndsey Nelson

Lyndsey Nelson is a Sales Director at Brightly, where she specializes in manufacturing operations across a wide range of sectors, spanning from food and beverage to the oil and gas industry. Brightly, a Siemens company, enables organizations to transform the performance of their assets. As the global leader in intelligent asset management solutions, Brightly’s sophisticated cloud-based platform leverages more than 20 years of data to deliver predictive insights that help users through the key phases of the entire asset lifecycle.