Manufacturing is experiencing a strong rebound after the COVID-19 shutdowns. In the U.S., 225,000 manufacturing jobs were added in May. Additionally, the U.S. manufacturing index rose to a four-month high in June of 49.6, up from 39.8 in May. Those are good signs for an industry that had to send many employees home and in some cases shutter operations altogether.

However, as manufacturers reopen, safety requirements may require shops to underutilize both space and resources. Physical distancing requirements will necessitate that companies reconfigure workstations to comply with them. The introduction of split or staggered shifts and cleaning in between shifts may result in fewer work hours spent on the production floor as well. In an uncertain environment, finding ways to increase manufacturing profits is critical.

Seek Out Efficiency Improvements by Preventing Problems

One of the ways that manufacturing profit can be realized is by preventing problems before they happen. Companies can minimize machine downtime by running tooling at the appropriate parameters, including the right speeds. 

Manufacturers also need to look at optimizing their shop floors for safety, as injuries from workers getting caught in equipment costs companies $1.9 billion annually. Even aside from more serious workplace accidents, ergonomics also play an important role in optimizing for safety; $1.6 billion a year is lost due to repetitive motion injuries like radial tunnel syndrome. This condition happens when the radial nerve in the forearm is compressed because the worker had to perform forceful pulling, pushing, or twisting motions repeatedly.

Additionally, predictive machine maintenance can also provide cost savings and productivity gains. Regularly checking operating parameters, machine vibration, and cutting tool chatter, along with calibrating the machine or changing tooling can reduce downtime by 30 to 50 percent. It can also extend machine life by 20 to 40 percent.

Optimize Workstation Layouts for Increased Productivity

Another way to increase profits is to make sure workers have everything they need to be as efficient as possible. Workflows and workstation setups also need to be evaluated regularly to ensure that they’re set up for efficiency. This includes things like keeping tooling, materials, and safety equipment organized and in logical, predictable locations. Even though these may seem like small tasks, they can add up to big improvements over time. 

In some cases, it may make sense to rearrange machinery to create optimal workflows. This logical flow from machine to machine can improve productivity by reducing the travel distance of people and parts during the metalworking process.

Pay Attention to Coolant

While the purchase of coolant itself only makes up .5% of overall costs, coolant touches every aspect of metalworking: labor, parts, machinery, and the finished product. Choosing the right coolant has far-reaching impacts that affect the bottom line of the business. The right coolant can reduce dermatitis incidents, minimize odors, and provide low foam characteristics, which can avoid many operating issues. It’s also important to pick coolant with the appropriate lubricity for different applications so that machines don’t break down. For example, drilling deep holes into softer metals requires a metalworking fluid with a lot of lubricity to prevent the tooling from overheating, which could cause a shutdown.

Additionally, some coolants leave very oily residues in the facility, which can be a slip hazard and lead to related injuries. These injuries impact productivity and may result in paying worker’s compensation claims, as well as affect employee morale. Having the right coolant and a comprehensive maintenance and cleaning program, using cleaners and degreasers designed to break down metalworking oils, can be beneficial.

It’s also important to monitor and maintain coolant, because the longer coolant lasts, the less time that’s spent changing it out – which can sometimes shut down an entire production floor if the shop uses a centralized system. To do this, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the recommended concentration and charging coolant systems with high-quality water, such as reverse osmosis or deionized water. Additionally, removing tramp oil promptly can also help extend coolant life and prevent odors.

There is manufacturing profit that can be found and increased by paying attention to the details. Preventative maintenance, optimized workstations, and choosing the right coolant and maintaining it can all go a long way to keeping the shop floor running smoothly, minimizing downtime and maximizing production and profit.

For more information on how to optimize operations or for help determining which fluid is best for your shop, call +1 800-537-3365 or email us at [email protected].