How striving for zero defects helps to boost manufacturing productivity through process visibility

Theresa May hasn’t held back in stressing the need for UK businesses to raise productivity levels if we are to successfully trade with and operate in the European market post Brexit. In its Industrial Strategy green paper, the Government highlights the fact that although the UK has built a global reputation for our industrial sectors, we simply can’t compete against our European counterparts when it comes to productivity: on average, workers in France and Germany produce around as much in four days as UK workers do in five*.

As an industry, we need to explore every potential route to boosting productivity if we are to ensure that the UK manufacturing industry survives – and even thrives in global markets – when we’re no longer part of the EU.

In this final blog post in the series, we want to look at one of the barriers to increased productivity: defects in the manufacturing process. Not only do they cost time and money but, in some cases, defects can even cost companies their reputation and, ultimately, their existence. All manufacturers strive to achieve high productivity coupled with low, or even zero defects, but for many this might seem an impossible goal. There are, however, steps that manufacturers can take now to help minimise the likelihood of defects and, in turn, increase productivity.

In manufacturing, and particularly in the supply chain, productivity and processes are entirely interdependent. With the right operational processes in place, productivity levels will improve, the likelihood of defects will reduce and, should a defect occur, any wastage and scrappage will be limited.

Every manufacturing environment will have its own unique set of processes, but from our experience at K3 Syspro, the majority of defects tend to occur because of a lack of visibility of one, or more, of the production stages. If manufacturers have a detailed understanding of their business processes – and visibility across their entire operations and workflow – they would be much better positioned to be able to spot any potential problems before they lead to defects.

So, how can businesses gain better visibility? The answer lies in Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP. ERP solutions are helping to transform businesses by providing complete visibility of processes, eradicating defects and driving up productivity. ERP systems, such as SYSPRO, enable manufacturers to plan, execute and control production effectively. Designed to provide visibility of the supply chain and workflow, as well as track projects as they go through the different stages of the manufacturing process, SYSPRO’s manufacturing modules, many of which we’ve highlighted in this series of blogs, help businesses to better understand how the supply chain and shop floor operations can be improved.

Industry 4.0, coupled with the Government’s drive to boost UK productivity levels, will force the manufacturing industry towards integrated and automated ‘smart’ factories, leaving manufacturers with little option other than to automate their shop floor and production processes or risk losing out to their competition – whether here in the UK or overseas. While these developments may seem daunting to manufacturers, particularly smaller businesses, they should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. As I hope we’ve outlined in this series of blogs, with the right ERP partner on board and a bespoke, integrated ERP system in place, the benefits can be immeasurable.

With ERP modules ranging from Requirements Planning and Advanced Quality Management, to Engineering Change Control and Factory Documentation, K3 Syspro is ideally placed to help UK manufacturers come closer than ever before to achieving zero defects, boosting productivity and future proofing their businesses for Industry 4.0 and beyond.


*ONS (2016) International Comparisons of Productivity for 2015

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