In any manufacturing and shipping operation where a combination of humans and machines produce a product and then send that product either to a distribution center or directly to the customer, streamlining efficiency is always a great way to shore up a bottom line. Each step of the production process can be broken down into a collection or series of tasks, with each task requiring a person, or person operating a machine, to expend a certain amount of time and use certain materials and supplies to complete the task. Since, in most cases, the materials and supplies needed for these production tasks is set - each product needs one container bag, one box, two labels, etc... - it falls on the manager to save more time if efficiency is to be improved.

Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking...

Every action takes a certain amount of time. Moving a product from one place to another takes a certain amount of time. Peeling a label off a roll takes a certain amount of time. Every step on the road from raw material to finished product takes a certain number of seconds off the clock, with the total being equal to the man-hours required for a single product.

The Missing Minutes

When calculating man-hours, you never can apply 100 percent of an employees time to production, because there are always certain tasks that are supportive of the production process rather than intrinsic to it, that take up some of our time. Managing materials, getting supplies, maintaining equipment, all steal time that could be spent on producing another sellable product.

Organize a Hostile Time Takeover

When looking at the missing minutes, the obvious way to steal some of it back is by streamlining those down time tasks and reducing the time they require. Organize your work area so that the supplies that each position needs to re-stock regularly are close at hand. Maybe this means a centralized center for materials and supplies, or maybe this means more supply storage at each individual position. Any strategy that removes a lot of the moving around and dedicates more time to support the production cycle is a very good thing.

Watch the Clock

The last thing you want your employees to do is watch the clock, but when it comes to increasing productivity and making your company more profitable, it's your job to not only watch the clock, but to carve little pieces off of it until each task advances the production process like a well-oiled machine. By paying attention to the little details like accessibility of supplies, you're taking a good first step to improve the health of your business.