Industry and government are being challenged with competition throughout the world. In order to meet this challenge, we must have continuous improvement in people, technology, information systems, and capital expenditures. The productivity center is a way for an organization to concentrate resources to effectively meet this challenge. Unfortunately, the use of productivity centers often lacks specific guidelines and procedures. Productivity centers often are considered at the start of the production phase, and in some instance are considered an option of the individual project manager. In other cases, the training of people and certification of equipment, tools, and processes is the sole financial burden of the individual project. Such an approach can lead to late or inadequate personnel training and manufacturing process qualification, and contributes to unfamiliarity with new equipment and processes until the equipment is first introduced to the factory floor.
One of the main goals of a productivity center should be to increase the quality and amount of work output from each individual. Such increased productivity is influenced by multiple factors including: the technology and its effective application; the information and information systems people work with; timely integration and application of resources to the job; training and retraining consistent with new and existing manufacturing processes and procedures; and finally, the commitment by people to do the job right - the first time. The hypothesis is that individuals in a self-motivating environment, if given adequate tools and provided with adequate training, will perform in a competent manner. To increase productivity will then be to continue to find better ways of doing assigned tasks.
The efforts of the productivity center must be supported by corporate policy and implemented independent of specific project requirements. Formal guidelines and indices of measurement are essential to a good productivity center. A closed-loop management effort that involves all levels of the organization contributes to individual support for the productivity center and will enhance worker motivation and the number of creative ideas generated in the productivity center environment. Some areas that can effectively be explored in a productivity center include:
a. Development of training modules in new or changed manufacturing processes that will be applied in different manufacturing and engineering organization learning centers. A measure of the impact on the delivered product is necessary before implementing changes and training people in the new production process.
b. Research and development of new processes and approaches that will implement advance design technology. The objective is to have manufacturing processes ready to produce advance design approaches.
c. Establishment of guidelines and procedures which yield higher productivity by all functions in the design and manufacturing cycle.
d. Development of optimum methods of accomplishing existing work tasks through direct worker involvement off-line. This approach is based on full teamwork and provides each worker with the opportunity to participate in establishing goals and improvements. The anticipated result is increased worker productivity because of the sense of worker ownership towards the team goals.
e. Worker training using both classrooms and "hands on"
experience. Such a training and recertification program should include:
- General product orientation and end item use
- The manufacturing facility and the individual's role in it
- Computer-aided design and manufacturing
- Management information systems
- New or changed manufacturing equipment, processes, or techniques
tailored to a particular product application