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6 Important Features To Look For In Your Downtime Software

Profit and productivity are the backbones of any business. Without these two ingredients, there is no incentive to run a business. However, achieving both of these is no child’s play. Several factors like unplanned downtimes, productivity stops, and operational glitches lead to loss of production. Productivity principles like Lean Manufacturing were designed to overcome these productivity killers. Manufacturing plants use OEE as a tool to measure the effectiveness of their plant and processes.

Higher availability of plant and machinery means better output. Efficiency can be further improved by eliminating waste from the process. But, this is easier said than done. Murphy’s law ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’, clearly defines how things work in manufacturing plants. Things go wrong all of a sudden and managers are bound to get unpleasant surprises. Such breakdowns not only waste time but also increase the overall costs. Delay in production, labor idling, and emergency repairs bring a lot of negative impression on the balance sheets. To Reduce Manufacturing Costs plant managers aggressively use tools for monitoring Manufacturing  Downtime.

Downtime Software programs work as 24/7 monitors of the whole manufacturing process. They monitor the progress of your machinery and report all kinds of problem or maintenance updates in a prompt manner. They work as a preventive mechanism which keeps you alert towards the need for maintenance and upkeep of the machines. It keeps the managers as well as the operators in the loop and shows easy to understand color-coded alerts. You can see the performance of machines or reasons for unplanned stops in real time anywhere even on your smartphone.

manufacturing process monitoring

This trend has made Downtime Software programs quite important for manufacturing plants. There are lots of programs in the market with a variety of features and advantages and all are not the same. However, this may also create a problem of choice in front of the managers. While most of the programs offer all the standard features, yet it is important to know the important things to look for while choosing the best Downtime Software for easy and effective monitoring of Manufacturing Downtime.

Key Features of Downtime Software

  1. Easy Access Everywhere
    The only thing worse than not having a Downtime Software is not having access to it on the go. The times have changed and they have drastically changed the way business is done these days. You can’t stick to the plant all the time but not knowing the problems as and when they occur can be a problem. Go for a software to track Manufacturing Downtime that shows you the real-time data on your smartphone too.
  2. Better Data Representation
    Confusing or complex data doesn’t solve any part of the problem. It may be good for scholarly work but when it comes to real problem solving it just increases the problems. Choosing a Downtime Software that shows problems and alerts in color-coded easy to understand way is the best.
  3. Historical Representation of Data
    To judge the performance of any machine or calculate the efficiency of any process it is always important to have a broader picture. Historical data helps you in analyzing the performance of your machines and processes in the correct way. This should be a thing to look for in your Downtime Software.
  4. Identification of the Main Sources of Downtime
    Managing a manufacturing unit is a tough and demanding job. There are too many components and things easily lead to a butterfly effect. In such places, correct assessment of the main sources of the downtime is very important. This helps in faster resolution and shorter downtime. Always look for a Downtime Software that helps you in precise identification of the main sources of downtime.
  5. Knowledge of Main Productivity Killers
    Every manufacturing plant develops its own productivity killers over a period of time. They slow down your system and remain inconspicuous. Your Downtime Software must be capable of finding out the productivity killers. It must have a way to scale productivity on various parameters to get accurate information.
  6. Separate Computation of Planned Downtime
    Stats are a source of knowledge but incorrect stats can be very dangerous. They may make you look for problems in the areas where there is none and you may end up wasting a lot of time and energy. Planned and unplanned downtimes are two separate things. Planned downtimes are necessary and they do not disrupt your production. But, if your Downtime Software is computing this time too in Manufacturing Downtime, then you may have misleading facts in your hand. Your software must have provisions to calculate both separately.

Choose a program that solves the purpose and helps you in achieving your production goals easily. Programs that offer a dozen of features that don’t solve a real problem but work as an eyewash are of no use.

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Communication is Key to Employee Engagement

If you want your employees to feel good about your business and the direction it’s headed, you’ve got to keep them informed. Effective communication with employees results in workers who both rate their employers’ reputations favorably and feel their company’s best years are still to come. Thrive believes these key communication pieces will ensure effective employee engagement:

Communication can make or break workplace engagement

Most employees are eager to participate in a recognition program, just as the management team is eager to promote the program. Keeping your team engaged can be a challenge, but satisfied employees will work harder and with better quality, so finding ways to keep employees engaged and excited about their jobs is crucial. You can do this if you have a positive and fair recognition program, and know how to communicate it with your employees.

effective organizational communication

Communication & Information Breeds Motivation

One of the biggest complaints from employees is they are not informed of what is going on within the company. They come to work, do their job, and go home. They have no reason to strive for greater overall results for their employer.

Employees need to be informed to be motivated and fully engaged.

For example, if you are struggling with shipping accuracy of a certain product, let employees know by giving them constructive feedback of how to fix the problem. Many manager’s first instinct is to reprimand the individual or department, which leads to discouraged employees. Using this communication method, the problem tends to only get worse. It’s all about how you say it!

In most cases, if you communicate your message well, you will see the problem become resolved. Once resolved, make sure to recognize the individual or group responsible for rectifying the problem. It can be something as simple as congratulating them in front of their co-workers at the next meeting or bringing coffee and donuts before work begins. Employees should feel as though they are appreciated for their efforts.

Communication is key to keeping your employees motivated to continue to meet company goals. Engaged employees will work harder, stay positive, and work as a progressive team. As a company, you can communicate your appreciation through formal promotions, presentations, or simply verbally thanking employees for a job well done. If your employees are informed and motivated, they will work harder to achieve better results!

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How to Help Your Millennial Employees Flourish and Succeed

Many assumptions have been made about millennials in the workplace however, Thrive believes with small tweaks to your approach in leadership, you can help millennials flourish in your business. Follow these suggestions and watch your younger team members come to life in the workplace:

  • Listen to their ideas

Millennials often feel like their ideas aren’t taken seriously simply because of their age—and in many cases, they’re right. The age bias is a real concern when there are various generations working together on one team.This generation is well-versed in modern technology and is known for being creative with their approach to challenges. If you encourage them to speak up and show that you value their opinions, you’re more likely to harness their unique skill set. Keep an open mind when you have conversations with your millennial employees. You never know when you may learn about a new piece of technology that could make doing your job a little easier or an out-of-the-box solution that might boost your revenues.

  • Set up lunch dates

Sometimes the reason why older and younger people struggle to connect is because they haven’t found common ground. Encourage millennials and other workers to get to know each other by creating a program that pairs younger/older team members and have them go to lunch together. For example, two people may both love golf. Once they get to talking about their strokes and favorite courses to play, they’ll have an easier time talking about work-related matters

  • Let the slang slide

Sometimes, what feels like a slang word to you may actually be an emerging linguistic trend. Instead of dismissing the way millennial employees may speak, try seeing it from a different perspective. The best way to learn how to communicate with your fellow team members is to engage with them on a daily basis. If there’s a term you don’t understand, don’t feel ashamed to ask for clarification. Who knows, you might actually like it and come to use it yourself! Or, if you serve millennials, you can use this new lingo to improve your customer relations.

  • Give them work that matters

Perhaps even more so than other generations, millennials like to feel that the work they’re doing is making a difference. This can be a difference in your business reaching its goals or a difference in your customers’ lives. No matter what, millennials want and need to feel like a valued part of your team.

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Tips On How To Make Your Team Work Better

“Collaboration” has become abuzzword in the modern business world. To make collaboration technologies work for your business, you first need to show your team how to work well together. Thrive believes these six suggestionswillhelp encourage an open, cooperative workplace:

Make Your Team Work Better with collaboration

  • Set team goals. Use timelines, plans and structured content that clearly define current and future goals for the team. This way, all team members can share a distinct point of view.
  • Foster a creative environment. Allow team members to brainstorm in an open, non-judgmental framework that embraces the team’s diversity.
  • Build cohesion. Create a means of communicating that allows for easy workflow, establishes a distinct set of priorities and makes all colleagues feel included. Keeping everyone on the same playbook enables team members to focus and flourish.
  • Visualize ideas. Provide team members the opportunity to use visuals to clarify and share their ideas at the simplest level. You can do this with anything from rough sketches to full-scale presentations.
  • Break down barriers. Using multiple channels of communication such as email, phone and text messaging can ultimately create barriers to successful collaboration. Agree upon and enlist just one channel that allows the team to communicate efficiently and effectively.

Execute. With all of the focus on idea creation, don’t forget the most important step: acting on the good ones. Nothing will diminish employees’ desire to create new ideas faster than failure to implement existing proposals.

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Workforce Diversity Is Beneficial To Small Business Success

In the current era of economic globalization, diversity within a business can have a positive impact. As a result, many companies are working towards creating a more diverse workforce. Thrive has identified these ways diversity can be beneficial to your business’ success:

Productivity:  A diverse workforce can benefit a small business in many ways, including the productivity of the workforce. Each employee will bring his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses, and this helps create a diverse mix of skills, strengths, and weaknesses. And when employees teach their skills to other employees, this in turn, increases each employee’s skill-set.

Positive business reputation: For a business to succeed, its reputation must be positive and strong. Since diversity is a key to success in a modern-day environment, having a diverse small business can aid future employees to choose your business, and for future customers or clients to favor your company over others. The likelihood of positive “word of mouth” between customers is more likely if your company has a positive reputation and brand image.

Higher Morale: Giving employees the opportunity to work with people that bring different skills and views to the table helps them recognize that everyone is important for different reasons. When diversity is managed well and employees are subject to cross-cultural diversity and inclusion training, the result is that all people feel validated and considered important no matter their differences. Feeling valued improves the morale of each worker and promotes positivity in the workplace.

Global Impact: In an increasingly globalized world economy, workforces that are culturally diverse can help companies expand their business in worldwide markets. Being able to communicate effectively in different parts of the world is a key benefit, as well as knowing how to create relationships and understand the cultural nuances and differences in doing business in foreign countries. With a workforce that understands these concepts, you create the opportunity to effectively develop your business in a global market.

Community Relations: With a trend towards diversification, many communities are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. It is important that companies recognize this and mimic the communities that they serve. For example, companies need to be able to communicate effectively with customers and understand their needs, no matter the customer’s language or culture. Having people on staff who have the background and skills to do so are vital to an organization. Communities and customers also prefer to engage with companies that employ people that are similar to them.  For this reason, hiring and managing employees with diverse cultures is an advantage in a competitive market space.

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Downtime Reduction through Process Optimization

Downtime Reduction has been the long-term goal of all the manufacturing units. However, it remains a distant dream for many. Six Sigma processes and Lean Manufacturing have been the most widely adopted methods. Yet, many manufacturing units fail to achieve a good OEE score. Several factors contribute to this problem. The focus must be laid on bringing efficiency in the manufacturing process. Process optimization is the first step in this direction.

increase-productivity-through-process-optimization

Process optimization requires the adoption of various steps. Plant managers must do rigorous monitoring of the plant and machinery. They must unify the quality data access and ensure better tracking and reporting of the problems. This will ensure quick remedial action. The key word in process optimization here is better monitoring of the processes. A better understanding of the machine performance will help in avoidance of sudden surprises in form of manufacturing downtime.

Some of the factors which will help in process optimization are:

Capture Quality Data Across the Unit

Knowledge is power. It helps in making informed decisions and takes preventive measures. The biggest reason for most of the unplanned downtimes is a failure to get accurate data. The manufacturing units work as one entity but the various processes within the unit work separately. It is important that the data of these processes is accessible at one point. This helps in taking preventive steps in case the point of problems fails to recognize the issues. Downtime tracking mechanisms help in gathering the data at one point. It makes optimization of the process easy. The control unit can recognize the need for preventive mechanism even if the machine operator fails to recognize it. This central mechanism can initiate planned maintenance to reduce manufacturing downtime. It will make the process smooth and help in running it optimally. The important thing is to figure out the problem before it blows out of proportion.

Improve Process Evaluation by Understanding the Machines 

The biggest problem of the riddle is to understand the machines. Continuous work, overload and ignoring the maintenance breaks lead to problems. They can be avoided if the process evaluation is carried out from time to time. This will help in understanding the machine and avoiding surprises. A better understanding of the machines facilitates Manufacturing Process Optimization. Sudden failures can be avoided and the process can be made smooth.
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Performance

Optimal performance of the machines is crucial for optimizing the process. Frequent machine failures and unplanned breakdowns lead to inefficiency. You can avoid these problems by monitoring the performance of the machines. If any machine is facing frequent breakdowns then you need to get down to the root of the problem. Low performance of even a single unit in the assembly will drag down the performance of the dependent processes. Machine tracking can help you in understanding this important indicator. It gives you historical assessment of the performance of the individual processes.

Accelerate Data Analysis

The faster you gather and analyze the data the sooner proactive steps can be taken. It is a crucial part of process optimization. Downtime tracking gives you instant access to the machine data. It also gives you specific analysis of the problems. The area facing the issue or needing maintenance breaks also get highlighted. You are able to understand the need for maintenance better and schedule it accordingly. This will help you in running the processes much smoothly where other processes don’t get affected by any other machine’s breakdown.

Minimize Maintenance Disruptions

Maintenance is a crucial part of running a plant smoothly. It can get undermined when a plant is running at full capacity. This can lead to problems ahead. Ignoring the maintenance schedules and overusing the machines can lead to bigger failures. It must be avoided in all circumstances. Planned maintenance is a part of process optimization and it helps in avoiding unplanned downtimes.

Unify Quality Data Access

Leaving the analysis of cause and problems on the individual units can prove to be a big challenge in the way of process optimization. Mistakes may get overlooked and problems may be ignored under pressure situations. This can spell a lot of problems where there may be a complete breakdown of the system. Access to quality data must be unified. This helps in maintaining the check and balance of the system. Even if a problem gets ignored at one point it will get noticed at another. This will give a great boost to process optimization and help in minimizing downtime. The process can be run smoothly and without disruptions. If there is no unified access to the quality data then you will have to depend upon the reporting of the individual machine operators. This may delay action and lead to undue stops. Downtime monitoring gives you real-time access to the quality data. You are always in the loop and in a better position to make an informed decision when there is still time to do so. You can also take proactive steps through preventive maintenance to avoid the problems or reduce the reaction time.

Better Tracking and Reporting

Better tracking and reporting of the problems is the key to process optimization. It always keeps you in the driver’s seat. You have better control over the flow of the process and you can take steps to make it better without the fear of many unpleasant surprises. Downtime Tracking software programs help you by efficiently tracking and reporting issues. You have better access to the key parameters in form of color-coded signals so that you can easily identify the urgency. The data is available to you in real time. This solves the biggest part of the equation for you.

You can reduce your downtime by process optimization. When the process is moving smoothly there are very few chances of disruptions. Problems can be handled easily and effectively. Downtimes can prove to be a drag on the resources and put a lot of strain on other dependent processes. They must be avoided at all costs.

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Ways to Delegate Effectively

Whether you’re a team leader, an entrepreneur, or in a position of authority, delegation is going to be a major key to maximizing your productivity and keeping yourself sane during tight deadlines or large workloads. Delegating tasks is a skill thatcan be learned and improved on over time. Thrive believes if you put these delegation strategies into practice, you can watch your organization’s efficiency increase:

  • Learn to let go. The biggest problem most leaders face is the inability to let go of their own work. Sometimes they feel so dedicated to completing their own work that they refuse to let other people help. Other times, they fear that nobody else has the skills or abilities necessary to execute the work effectively.Whatever the case may be, your first priority needs to be to learn to let go. Start small, delegating only the smallest tasks, and gradually work your way up. Get to know your team better and improve the trust among you and your co-workers. Take baby steps and know that eventually you will have to let go of your work if you want your team to be successful.
  • Always include instructions. Even if the task process seems obvious to you, make sure to include instructions with each task you delegate. If you have specific preferences for how the assignment will be carried out, include that information. If you have a strict deadline or milestones you need to hit, be clear about them.Including details and straightforward instructions from the get-go will avoid most communication gaps and will allow your tasks to be executed effectively. It’s a proactive strategy that both you and your employees will appreciate.
  • Don’t be afraid to teach new skills. Lacking someone on your team with the ability to execute a certain task on your to-do list doesn’t mean the work can’t be delegated. Most skills can be learned–some more easily than others–so don’t be afraid to teach as a part of the delegation process.Though the assignment of your first few tasks will take more time than it will save you (since you’ll need to train your chosen employee), consider it an investment. By transferring those skills, you’ll be opening the door to assigning all similar tasks to that individual in the future, ultimately saving more time than you spent teaching.
  • Trust, but verify. Once a task is delegated, trust your teammate to execute it on his or her own terms. This will allow the person to tackle the work the way they feel is best. However, don’t be afraid to occasionally step in and verify that the task is moving along as planned. For example, if you made an assignment a week ago that’s due tomorrow, trust that your employee is on top of things, but send a quick verification email to make sure the person hasn’t hit any snags.Doing so encourages more trust and respect within your team and helps prevent breaks in communication or understanding.
  • Use feedback loops to improve delegation moving forward. Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process, and it works both ways. If your workers have done well with a task you assigned, let them know by publicly thanking them and offering genuine praise. If they’ve fallen short, don’t be afraid to give them some constructive criticism. In addition, be sure to invite your coworkers to share their thoughts on how you’re delegating–it’s a critical chance for you to determine whether you’re providing enough information, or whether you’re assigning the right tasks to the right people.

Delegating isn’t always easy, and the process isn’t always clear cut, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll develop the expertise to do it effectively.

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How Following Lean Principles Can Improve Business

The Lean manufacturing principles can be broken down into five main principles: value, value streams, flow, pull, and perfection. Here is some insight into each of the main principles:

Principles of Lean ManufacturingThe Lean approach begins with a detailed understanding of what value the customer assigns to product and services. Establishing value allows organizations to create a top-down target price. Your organization focuses on eliminating waste so that they can deliver the value the customer expects at the highest level of profitability.

The value stream is the product’s entire life-cycle from the raw materials through to the customer’s use of, and eventual disposal of, the product. In order to eliminate waste, the ultimate goal of Lean, there must be an accurate and complete understanding of the value stream. Processes are examined to determine what value is added. Steps, materials, features, and movement that do not add value are eliminated.

Understanding flow is essential to the elimination of waste. If the value stream stops moving forward at any point, waste is the inevitable by-product. The lean manufacturing principle of flow is about creating a value chain with no interruption in the production process and a state where each activity is fully in step with every other.

The lean principle of pull helps ensure flow by making sure that nothing is made ahead of time, building up work-in-process inventory and stopping the synchronized flow. Rather than using the traditional American manufacturing approach of pushing work through based on a forecast and schedule, the pull approach dictates that nothing is made until the customer orders it. This requires a great deal of flexibility and short design to delivery cycle times. It also requires an efficient way of communicating what is needed to each step in the value chain.

Lean practitioners strive to achieve nothing short of perfection. The march toward perfect process happens step by step as continuous improvements address root causes of quality problems and production waste. The relentless pursuit of perfection is what drives users of the approach to dig deeper, measure more, and change more often than their competitors.

As organizations begin to accurately specify value, identify the entire value stream, make the value-creating steps for specific products flow continuously and let customers pull value from the enterprise, something very odd begins to happen. It dawns on those involved that there is no end in the process of reducing downtime, effort, time, space, cost and mistakes while offering a product which is ever more nearly what the customer actually wants. Suddenly perfection, the fifth and final principle of lean thinking, doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

These ideas form the foundation of the Lean approach that has transformed countless corporations, giving them a leg up on the competition and a clear path to both profitability and delighted customers. Let Thrive make sure that your company is heading in the right direction.

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How to Build and Organize Your Workflow

If you have never undertaken the process of creating a workflow from start to finish, it may feel like a complicated process. While building a workflow can take time (especially when it comes to planning, processes, and testing) it isn’t as daunting as it seems if you know what you’re doing. The key is in knowing how to start and Thrive can help you identify an appropriate workflow for an effective process.

Workflow managementBuilding a workflow for a single project is not the same as creating a workflow for a business process, which is why it’s important to understand the difference.In order to build a project workflow, you would generally need to group a series of one-off tasks in order to accomplish a goal. This might include:

  • Identifying the ultimate outcome
  • Creating a series of steps involved to reach the outcome
  • Listing any one-off tasks and documents involved in each step
  • Identifying the order that each task needs to occur in
  • Assigning tasks to a person, if necessary (some tasks may be automated)
  • Setting a duration for each task and step

Projects are often completed using project management strategies and software. Project management involves the initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, control, and closing of a team’s specific goal, usually involving a certain set of criteria that needs to be met.The biggest difference between project management and process management is that project management has a temporary, constrained scope, quality, budget, and timeframe.

Creating a workflow for a process, on the other hand, involves defining processes that need to be managed throughout the organization, which may include repeatable projects and grouped tasks. It also requires visualizing, measuring, controlling, reporting, and, improving that process over time, with the goal to increase productivity and/or decrease costs.

While both are somewhat different, both project and process workflows can be organized in similar ways, using visual flowcharts and diagrams to document each stage, step and task.

Step 1: Name your workflow. The name should help you identify your ultimate outcome, but don’t worry too much about this, as you can change it later.

Step 2: Identify start and end points. What events or tasks will trigger the process to start? How will you know when your outcome has been reached?

Step 3: Identify what is needed to perform the process. What tasks, documents, and actual materials (automation software, programs, etc.) are needed to complete the process?

Step 4: List any tasks and activities. What needs to be done to accomplish your outcome?

Step 5: Identify the order tasks should be accomplished. Should certain tasks be finished before others can be started? Or can certain tasks be accomplished at the same time?

Step 6: Identify roles. Who will be involved in what tasks or activities? Some tasks may involve simple automation tools and no human approval, while others will need a review and sign off. Identify who is responsible for which task and process in your workflow.

Step 7: Review and finalize. After you’ve set everything up, you will want to test your workflow and review it to ensure that all processes are efficient and achievable and that everything accomplishes what it needs to accomplish. Don’t forget to test your systems to make sure there are no hiccups throughout the process.