Unless your facility uses nothing but robots, you’ll encounter human error in manufacturing. Not only is it a hassle, but it also causes serious problems ranging from lost profits to injury and death.In fact, errors have a major impact on operations of manufacturing facilities. Human mistakes contribute to 23 percent of unplanned manufacturing downtime.
Here are seven ideas to help you prevent human mistakes on the floor.
Use a Firewall Temporarily
While you rearrange your facility to reduce human error, have an independent inspector look over products. This plan serves as a firewall, preventing poorly made products from leaving your facility. Though it’s not a long-term option, it can help raise the quality of your products.
Base when you stop using the firewall on when your facility reaches a predetermined allowable error level.
Instruct Employees on Spotting Errors
It’s more difficult for your employees to achieve the desired level of accuracy if they don’t know what problems look like. Offer continued education on spotting problems in the manufacturing process.Doing so will help keep your facility’s error rates low even after you dismiss the firewall. Well-trained employees can act as a larger firewall to prevent problems or spot errors the entire way through the process.
Post Steps for All Jobs
Even experienced workers can have a brief mental lapse. Post all steps nearby, or have them available for all employees. Regularly reviewing their job’s goals and procedures can prevent a single mistake that can turn into a large error. When employees know their expectations, they’re less likely to make a mistake.
Train Employees Thoroughly
Training employees on the specifics of their jobs helps to reduce errors. This process includes keeping them updated on the expectations of quality for not only their job but also those around them. Education works best with new hires.
Training only prevents problems in less than 10 percent of manufacturing errors, butit’s a small way to contribute toward lowering the mistakes your team makes.
Training in the how’s and what’s is only part of the puzzle. When control room employees for a major utility company underwent training, they still had errors in the field, which was tied to their inability to know why certain tasks had to be done. They simply repeated the steps without understanding. Teaching your employees why each part of their job is important can reduce errors.
Reduce the Skills Employees Need
Though training is important, it’s best to minimize the need for it. If you can use tools and techniques that need few to no skills, you’ll have more employees available for tasks and, as a result,reduce errors. With fewer skills required, any employee can contribute to certain functions.
For instance, fittings once required specialty training, but the new i-Fitting makes it easy for even a layperson to install without the need for a gap gauge. A red indicator ring pops off when it’s at the proper tightness allowing for a perfect fit every time. Using it is just one way you can lower error and make more tasks accessible to all employees.
Provide Better Supervision
Get your supervisors out of their offices and onto the floor where they can do their jobs. Supervisors can watch for errors in production before someone gets hurt or the facility experiences downtime. Adequate supervision also serves to remind the employees of the procedures and training they may have forgotten.
The supervisors must also be willing to talk to employees and listen to their concerns. This willingness makes it easier for staff members to come forward when they have concerns about operations. When they feel trusted, they can feel better about discussing ideas with their supervisors. They can also air their concerns about errors they’ve made or seen others make.
Don’t punish mistakes. Instead, treat them as a learning tool. Encourage all employees to report errors rather than hide them for fear of punishment. Track the errors at your facility to see if a common thread arises. Doing so will help you tailor your prevention program to your facility’s needs.
Preventing Human Error Could Save Lives
Problems with your products are the least of your worries when it comes to human error in your facility. You could lose the lives of your employees. Preventing human error improves the quality of your production and makes your facility safer. It’s time to start making the right changes today to lower errors and boost safety.
Article by —
Megan Ray Nichols
Freelance Science Writer
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