June 22, 2021


Are Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures Really That Important? (Yes!)

Are Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures Really That Important? (Yes!)

There is always room for improvement.

This common expression is especially important to the manufacturing industry.

One small plant-floor oversight can instantly flush thousands of dollars down the drain. 

Strategic SOP programs bolster equipment maintenance, quality assurance, waste management, and supply-chain stability. Repeatable processes can always be made more efficient with SOPs.

If your plant isn’t currently running an effective manufacturing standard operating procedures program, this article will motivate you to make the changes you need to improve performance. Here we’ll discuss the applications, benefits, and importance of manufacturing standard operating procedures

We’ll also reveal the simplest way to streamline your SOPs. 

Why You Need Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures

Manufacturing standard operating procedures (SOPs) provide step-by-step instructions for completing repetitive manufacturing processes to achieve desired outcomes. 

In most cases, they are used together with PM work orders, quality control checklists, and inspection audits. Manufacturing SOPs may also provide linked resources, flow charts, photographs, and illustrations that supplement procedural checklists.

6 Benefits of Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures 

manufacturing standard operating procedures

SOPs are crucial if manufacturing facilities are to achieve uniform performance, production-line efficiency, high-quality production, and regulatory compliance. Here’s a rundown of the benefits you could experience from launching a solid SOP program. 

1. Standardized Production (Time Saved)

Manufacturing standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensure all employees complete tasks in precisely the same manner across production lines and facility locations. Generally, this means managers can expect to receive fewer questions about how to implement verbalized work instructions. 

Not only do standardized production methods thwart confusion, but they also save management time. Instead of reexplaining how to do something over and over again, plant managers can refer employees to SOP documentation. 

2. Streamlined Communication

Manufacturing SOPs enhance communication across all team levels and facilities. When digitized, employees and managers can access real-time updates of ongoing and completed tasks with minimal chances of miscommunication. 

Modern computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) apps like MaintainX further enhance communication with digital work order commenting, team messaging, and photo uploading. Such communication improves top-down communication within the organization, streamlines project management, and produces faster problem response times. 

Additionally, manufacturing standard operating procedures make it easier for managers to interpret key performance indicators (KPIs). Tracking maintenance and performance metrics is useless without understanding the step-by-step actions responsible for the data points. Managers can share meaningful metrics with team members to help explain necessary corrective actions. 

3. Improved Quality Assurance 

Producing dependable final products is the most crucial aspect of maintaining long-term customer relationships. For this reason, managers must build plant systems with acceptable quality standards. 

Documenting effective SOPs helps ensure that manufacturing teams meet the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)’s seven ISO 9000 quality management principles for product quality requirements. A strong quality management system is crucial to discouraging the cutting of corners during production workflows. 

4. Improved Regulatory Compliance

SOPs also help manufacturing facilities follow best record-keeping practices to ensure they are prepared for regulatory audits. Thorough SOPS support the implementation of safety and compliance standards in order to pass OSHA safety inspections

While paper SOP records are better than none at all, SOP software simplifies the process even further with digital audit trails. Manufacturing facilities can safeguard themselves against potential legal actions with digitized reports that demonstrate checklist compliance with time and date automation. 

4. Enhanced Accountability 

In addition to standardizing task completion, SOPs clearly define the roles responsible for completing assignments. Such accountability measures make it easier for plant managers to track performance, improve compliance, and provide direction across the manufacturing floor.  

As a result, managers may identify knowledge or skill gaps that necessitate new training programs. Alternatively, management can provide workers with validation that they are doing a good job. Regardless, greater accountability opens the door to providing guidance for continuous improvement. 

5. Improved Plant Efficiency

As mentioned above, consistently seeking ways to improve production efficiency is crucial to plant growth. Exemplary managers are continuously evaluating equipment performance patterns, organizational bottlenecks, and opportunities for cutting costs. 

Established SOPs provide a baseline to measure progress and make better-informed decisions moving forward. Once managers begin to identify frequently made mistakes, or extra steps that don’t add value to operational goals, they’re in a powerful position to course correct. 

6. Minimal Manufacturing Waste

To improve efficiency, manufacturing facilities should adopt lean manufacturing principles to eliminate or minimize waste. There are eight different types of manufacturing waste that effective SOPs can help to eliminate or minimize. 

They include defects, overproduction, waiting times, under-utilization of talent, transportation waste, inventory waste, overprocessing, and motion waste. Solid SOPs help management better monitor the effectiveness of production lines, pieces of equipment, and employees. 

This best practice helps plant leaders confidently tweak business processes based on actual data points as opposed to hunches. Interested in learning more? Click here to learn more about why writing standard operating procedures with waste reduction in mind is conducive to success. 

Why Digital Manufacturing SOPs Improve Efficiency

manufacturing standard operating procedures

We’ve looked at a few benefits SOPs bring to manufacturing facilities. However, digitizing SOPs can enhance these benefits even further! Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why:

1. Enhance Overall Efficiency

Plant managers use SOPs to improve the efficiency of their production lines. With digital SOPs, they can easily quantify and organize processes across the plant. 

For example, using digital SOPs can automate warehouse and front office operations to ensure the smooth running of the facilities. Digital records can also help to identify anomalies and areas to improve, redefine, and reorganize.

2. Facilitate Real-Time Communication

Digital SOPs enable employees and managers to access real-time information about ongoing and completed tasks. This reduces chances of miscommunication and streamlines internal communications, enhancing the efficiency of the entire company. 

Additionally, work order commenting functionality makes it easier for employees to provide feedback on SOPs. This internal feedback loop supports managers in continually fine-tuning procedures for improved outcomes. Furthermore, approved team members can easily access revised SOPs via the software’s online dashboard.

3. Enhances Compliance

Digital SOPs enable online data collection that reduces the time needed to perform audits. Standard operating procedures enable managers to identify inefficiencies within the manufacturing processes to make data-driven decisions on how to improve. 

Once improvements have been made, the data can be easily shared with employees to enhance compliance. Digital SOPs can help manufacturing facilities build a culture of excellence. 

4. Simplifies Data Analysis

A user-friendly CMMS can store, organize, and illustrate essential KPIs that reveal potential problem areas of manufacturing operations. 

With software, managers can easily track metrics like schedule compliance, mean-time-to-repair (MTTR), and planned maintenance percentage (PMP). They can also glean insights into particular asset upkeep spending patterns, inventory expenses, and more. Besides using advanced reporting functionality to inform plant decision-making, plant managers can also more easily communicate data with upper management in the form of illustrated reports. 

5. Streamline Audits

As previously discussed, manufacturers must stay on top of several areas of compliance, including environmental regulations and health and safety requirements. 

Understandably, many small businesses rely on analog SOPs because “that’s how they have always done it.” But cloud-based software platforms like MaintainX automate the entire process, making it easier than ever to prove regulatory compliance (and avoid litigation) when necessary. 

Digitizing Manufacturing SOPs with CMMS

customize SOP templates
MaintainX CMMS

Several tools are available to manufacturing facilities wanting to digitize their SOPs. However, one of the most powerful options is a CMMS solution that also automates asset management, work order management, inventory management, and meter readings. 

The benefits of using CMMS to digitize manufacturing standard operating procedures, as opposed to singular SOP software, include:

  • Automated creation, assigning, and tracking of recurring work orders
  • Access to reusable SOP templates with hierarchical checklists
  • Ability to organize assets, parts, and inventory data
  • Instant messaging between team members

Beyond saving time via automation, the real power of CMMS lies in data implementation. The more information managers track regarding SOPs, work orders, and assets, the more they will begin to notice fulfillment patterns. Manufacturing facilities that revise existing SOPs based on incoming data can improve profitability, productivity, and efficiency over time. 

Streamline Manufacturing Operations with MaintainX

MaintainX allows busy manufacturing teams to create, fulfill, and monitor digitized SOP checklists from their smartphones in real-time.

Our CMMS software provides in-depth reporting capabilities, customizable dashboards, and digital audit trails—everything you need to oversee maintenance operations in real-time. 

MaintainX mobile ensures crucial processes are at your team’s fingertips wherever they are, whenever they need them. If you’re ready to build an accessible knowledge base for your employees to reference on the go, we’re here to help. 

Click here for a free 30-day trial of MaintainX Premium.

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Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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