Last weeks blog about automation of factories and the benefits to be had, especially when the market is in growth mode and volumes are high, generated some interesting feedback.

At The Glass Racking Company we supply the glass and window industries with capital items – vehicles, tables, storage systems, lifting equipment, site installation equipment and the like. Although we don't supply the large automated equipment (such as double glaze lines for glass companies and multi-cut saws for window companies) we do provide much of the equipment (and systems) which work around these big machines to get the best out of them. Most staff in a glass factory would have experienced how productivity drops when the factory runs out of trolleys for moving and storing partially processed glass items. The small capital items can be as important to productivity as the large ones. In the last 12 months we've seen a steady upswing in investment in items such as those described above, with that investment being from very small to very large companies. It's all good.

In many of the factories I visit the difference between profit and loss can be measured in rework costs and non-productive hours. Good technology, good systems, and effective management can keep both of these to a minimum.

I challenge you with these questions :
1. Do you truly know the cost of rework in your factory for the last 12 months?
2. Do you truly know how many factory staff hours were paid for by you, but not on-billed to your clients?
3. Do your staff come to you regularly with ideas for reducing rework and improving productivity? How many of these ideas require capital investment?
4. If you had 1% of your annual turnover to spend on a capital item today, what would it be, and what benefits would it bring to your business? What would the payback be?
5. What would need to change before you invested in new technology in your business? How can you make those changes happen?