5 Steps to Ramp Up a Manufacturing Operation


Business interruptions can be rare but do occur from time to time. It does not matter what caused the interruption, relocation, natural disaster, or an unprecedented crisis. Interruptions can stifle the momentum your business was building and spoil a great year. When these interruptions happen, they inevitably trigger a cycle of re-starting or ramping up our operations in their aftermath.

This is a critical junction because failing to adequately prepare for the ensuing ramp-up could lead to a significant waste of resources. Just to give you a few examples, you could have an important product or documentation missing and spend inordinate amounts of time locating it; or you could have insufficient capacity and fail to deliver on customer commitments.

Here are some areas to consider before re-starting or ramping up:
1. Facility Preparation – During a business interruption, especially if unexpected, there is little attention to the state in which we leave the premises.
a. Safety – Because of this, ensure you have discussed with your team a plan to ensure the safety of your staff before, during, and after we re-start the operation. Consider having a small team assess if there are risks present in the facility and taking the proper precautions.
b. Inventory – Consider doing an inventory check on critical and or long lead time items. If any abnormalities are found, begin to mitigate the effects. After doing this, you will be able to communicate which orders will be affected to your customers.
c. Supply Chain – Check in with your key supply base to understand the status of their operation and how they will be able to support any special requests; if any risks are identified (unavailable suppliers, or any other supply interruptions), begin working on a recovery plan. Furthermore, communicate with your customers to understand their needs and how you can support them.

2. Schedule – A phased approach is recommended so that you are not overloading your operation. Which could lead to safety risks. The last thing you want is an injury in your hands. Understand your demand and determine any need for prioritization of your commitments. Establish demand thresholds for possible need of increased capacity. Based on these inputs, develop a schedule that includes, as necessary: Skeleton crews, rotating schedules, on-call crews, and substitutions in case of any unexpected situations.

3. Personnel – We recommend that you quickly identify your essential personnel. Understand their availability for support and communicate your needs to them so they can prepare accordingly. If you have duplication of capabilities or limited cross-training, consider staggering shifts temporarily so that every shift has the needed capabilities to complete orders. Ensure staff is familiar with the standard work so that you can avoid mistakes. Also, if possible, use this standard work to cross-train other staff, develop capabilities, and share the burden of an irregular schedule.

These three areas should help in ensuring a swifter transition back into normal operations. I will be sharing the rest of our recommendations next week.

If you are having challenges ramping up your manufacturing operations and you would like to discuss your situation, schedule a call.

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