Lean Six Sigma / Supply Chain Management

Is your plant at risk of failure?

Use this self-assessment tool to rate your facility and spot signs of potential trouble.

By Glyn Thorman, Houston Consulting Group

Difficult economic conditions have plants and their employees shuddering at the thought of downsizings and closures. Production costs, maintenance expenses, foreign competition, and other factors all present concerns.

Is your plant at risk of failure? Have you considered what warning signs may exist that would help you identify potential trouble in the future? If you were aware of these problems, could you address them, or would they simply be a fixed element of your plant’s culture?

Over many years, I’ve worked with plants and mills representing industries ranging from steel to paper. All have had unique operating factors, be they cold weather conditions or food safety imperatives. However, all have had basic similarities. Risk seminars, whether conducted for managers at a refinery, a pharmaceutical site, a paper mill, a bottler, or a military base, would have far more similarities than differences when it comes to basic functioning elements.

Participants would face the same questions: Is safety a concern? Do labor costs trouble you? Have you experienced a decline in vendor product and service quality? Is your workforce aging faster than you can hire replacements? Is equipment reliability low or slipping? These questions exist at virtually every plant or facility, and they have the potential to significantly alter the survivability of a business.

Much like health risks flagged because of genetics, lifestyle habits, or work environments, plant risks also can be identified. I have compiled 25 risk statements describing conditions at some plants I have visited. Each statement doesn’t reflect a guaranteed path to failure, but several existing together can indicate trouble. Click the link below to download the quiz.