Table of Contents
Warehouses must rethink how they operate because of COVID-19. Consequently, operational managers are now reassessing existing manufacturing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and their impact on stakeholders. What do we need to streamline? What are we doing now that may become a permanent part of our new reality? Which employees are qualified or trained to perform specific tasks?
Social distancing and new efficiency measures may mean that employees come to work in isolated shifts to perform specific jobs. They may leave before or just as the next isolated shift comes in.
Manufacturing SOPs are crucial to onboarding and training new employees and for those tasked with taking on new or different jobs. In this article, we’ll discuss the applications, benefits, and importance of manufacturing standard operating procedures. We’ll also reveal the simplest way to begin streamline SOPs.
6 Benefits of Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are step-by-step instructions that define how to perform repetitive business processes to achieve desired outcomes. They often accompany preventive maintenance (PM) work orders, inspection audits, and quality-control checklists. The best SOPs supplement procedural checklists with illustrations, photographs, flow charts, and linked resources to further clarify work instructions.
In the manufacturing industry, SOPs are crucial to achieving production-line efficiency, uniform performance (of both machines and workers), regulatory compliance, and high-quality final products. Here are six of the leading benefits of implementing SOPs on-site:
The very purpose of a standard operating procedure is to establish a standard and consistent way of completing a task. Assigning approved SOPs ensures workers always perform tasks in the same manner across manufacturing facilities and production lines.
Manufacturing SOPs streamline processes, improve consistency, and allow management to make informed business decisions based on how well a standard works.
Once standardized, managers can easily share data metrics with team members, thus improving communication from top to bottom. This will also reduce the risk of non-compliance, improve supply chain efficiencies, and streamline project management.
Manufacturing SOPs communicate across all facility and team levels. When digitized, a standardized manufacturing SOPs provides real-time important information to workers and managers about work being done, how it is being done, and if something is getting in the way. SOPs can even standardize how a team communicates. Streamlining internal communications creates efficiencies across the company.
Managers are always looking to improve production efficiency with their teams. SOPs make workforces more efficient, predictable, and measurable. From how a new piece of equipment runs to how a manager audits performance, repeatable processes can always be made more efficient with procedure templates. Perhaps a few steps are redundant and don’t present any additional value. Or, you may discover a frequent error or mistake that can be prevented by adding a step to account for the issues.
4. Regulatory Compliance and Quality Assurance
Manufacturing facility and product inspectors frequently ask to review standard operating procedures when auditing operations. And, in the case of legal action, SOPs can serve as crucial defense documentation of procedures followed within industry guidelines. OSHA’s General Duty Clause enforces worker health and safety. OSHA inspectors look for anything that can cause danger or bodily harm and impact an employee’s life on or off the job. Step-by-step SOPs are crucial for reinforcing safety and compliance standards.
Online workflows improve a company’s credibility and legal defenses. In fact, during auditing procedures, inspectors frequently rely on completed SOPs as checklists. Running quality systems is also an important part of a manufacturing company. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed ISO 9000 to define a “quality management system.” The ISO advises companies to:
a) consistently provide products and services that meet customer and legal and regulatory requirements, and
b) enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes to improve the system.
Increasing laws and regulations call for increased regulatory compliance and quality management through effective standard operating procedures. The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines quality as both a) the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied need, and b) a product or service free of deficiencies.
As part of any quality assurance plan, SOPs implementation is key. In fact, if and when lawyers get involved, having SOPs in place—and easily accessible through a digital platform with audit trails–-makes a huge difference. Quality standard operating procedures show lawyers and the courts that a company adheres to standards and regulations.
5. Accountability and Tracking
SOPs should clearly define who is responsible for completing the work order, preventive maintenance check, or inspection. SOPs improve accountability across the manufacturing floor. If a task isn’t completed accurately, and a standard operating procedure wasn’t followed, management can take appropriate action to prevent inaction or missteps from recurring.
Manufacturing compliance requires troubleshooting problems, tracking decisions, and explaining why changes were made. Tracking is easier when SOPs are digitized, especially when suppliers and new outsourcing are involved. Owners and manufacturing managers can also use completed digital standard operating procedures to gather data and carry-out critical audits and inspections on the factory floor. Collecting and analyzing this data in real-time increases compliance in the manufacturing process.
Writing standard operating procedures to eliminate the eight primary types of waste—that form the word, DOWNTIME—maximizes efficiency:
- Defects: avoid manufacturing errors and poor-quality output.
- Overproduction –don’t manufacture any more than the required amount.
- Waiting – prevent all unplanned manufacturing downtime or wait time.
- Non-utilized talent – reduce overstaffing or unused workforce.
- Transportation – cut unnecessary distance traveled from one location to another.
- Inventory – get rid of inefficient storage management.
- Motion – avoid excess movement by workers and manufacturing equipment that don’t add value.
- Excess manufacturing processes – remove any processes that don’t add value.
Once implemented, manufacturing standard operating procedures can help owners and production managers monitor the success and failures of a manufacturing line, piece of essential equipment, or work team.
Streamline Manufacturing Standard Operating Procedures
MaintainX allows manufacturing teams to create, fulfill, and monitor digitized SOP checklists from their smartphones in real-time. Our Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) also allows managers to:
- Create, assign, and track recurring work orders with software automation.
- Create reusable SOP templates with hierarchical checklists.
- Organize assets, parts, and inventory data.
- Instant message team members.
“Because MaintainX is so easy to use, we have seen a dramatic increase in reported Corrective Maintenance and completed PMs resulting in an increase in our LEF and GLY KPIs by at least 15-20% on average, by increasing the effectiveness and ease of maintenance scheduling and execution. I also love the ability to integrate with our ERP when we are ready. We can easily calculate our Man-Hour Utilization, Maintenance Plan Attainment, and view future Maintenance Plans within a few clicks. I would recommend you take a 1st and 2nd look at MaintainX.”
—Akil Cox, Maintenance Planner, Barbados Dairy Industries Limited (Anheiser-Bush)