Make Downtime Productive

From a classic “productivity” view, a shop’s ideal condition is running at peak capacity at all times. As everyone knows, that’s not always the case. A great strategy is to make that downtime just as productive in its own way. This can stretch across every aspect of a shop’s business:

  • Programmers & machinists. Use the downtime to train on your CAD/CAM software. Online courses are a great option because they let you engage in the training on your terms and timetable so they can be used whenever a slow spot is encountered. Getting training from your CAD/CAM rep is another great choice if you have a few days of downtime – the one-on-one interaction can yield fantastic tips and information. Finally, many schools and colleges offer training – great if you have an extended slow period that lets you adjust work schedules to fit several weeks of regularly held classes.
  • Programmer & machinists. Downtime is also a great time to provide needed but delayed care for your machines, and for people to talk to their tooling reps to see if there is anything new they might be able to take advantage of.
  • Shop processes. A slow period is a great opportunity to get everyone together and work through what improvements can be made to your internal processes to make sure everyone is productive and satisfied when the business inevitably picks back up. Everything from shop setup to workflow to back office policies can benefit from a bit of brainstorming during a slow period.

Cultivate Local Talent
It’s widely known that despite the current job market there are a number of unfulfilled positions for skilled programmers and machinists. Part of this rests with the younger generation – it’s a constant battle as schools try to show students that manufacturing today is a viable career with a cool high-tech edge. A great way to develop your workforce and help ensure you get exactly the employees you want is to work with local schools. Apprenticeship programs, in-shop training, even offering to make access to your shop a regular part of a school or university’s manufacturing program can give you access to talented, motivated young people. We have several customers who do this as a way to attract, hone, and keep excellent employees, but also as a form of community service and dedication to keeping our industry healthy.??

Make Personal Growth a Goal
We all know how it goes – everyone is so busy that the best option seems to do what you’ve always done. While this works if what you’re doing is very successful, there’s always room for growth and improvement. The problem is it’s very easy to let that slip as everyone strives to get their work done. A great approach is to make that growth an annual goal. Make software training, learning a new skill, or cross-training in the shop a part of an employee’s annual goal, and then support that goal by allowing adequate time to follow through. Much like making your downtime productive, the payback in efficiency, new approaches, and moral can far outweigh the costs.

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