Often considered the backbone of an organization, operations supervisors are responsible for budget, performance evaluation, customer support, and policy implementation. With so much on their plate, here are 9 things operations supervisors can do to improve reliability. 

Learn the process

As an operations supervisor, knowing how to manage people is not enough. It’s imperative to learn about the equipment and the products being overseen as well. The decisions operations supervisors make directly impact the products being made and the consumers who purchase them, so invest the time in knowing them backwards and forwards. To do this, lean on the most experienced operators on the team, look through production data, and understand failure history. 

Follow procedures

To save money and deliver consistent operations, create and maintain standard operating procedures (SOPs) and operator checklists. This will ensure that equipment runs consistently and will also eliminate reliance on employee memory/experience to properly start and shut down equipment. 

Audit procedures

Establish a continuous improvement model by frequently auditing procedures to ensure operators are following SOPs and checklists on a daily basis, and empower employees to consistently better the procedures in place.

Know process performance standards 

Properly plan and schedule production and maintenance activities to help prevent functional failure by getting to know the equipment’s process performance standards (health, safety, environment, line rate, packaging, and more). For example, if a machine produces 275 packages of product per minute and begins producing less, it has functionally failed. Detecting this before the equipment actually fails will preemptively alert you to the necessary repairs. 

Understand equipment criticality

To make sound decisions about equipment and products, perform an asset criticality assessment. If the company has performed one in the past, take a random sample of 100 assets and chart the criticality ranking of each. Understanding where assets rank in priority will empower operations supervisors to make easier and wiser decisions. 

Be customer focused

At the end of the day, the job of the operations supervisor is to meet customer demand with high-quality products. To do this properly, the operations supervisor must know his/her customers. This will define reliability and set the standards for rate and quality. 

Learn predictive maintenance (PdM)

To detect potential failures and make fact-based maintenance decisions, operations supervisors need to have a well-rounded understanding of predictive technologies like Vibration Analysis, Lubrication Analysis, Infrared Thermography, and Airborne Ultrasound.

Learn, set, and implement root cause analysis (RCA)

To help eliminate failures in every area, adopt and implement a great RCA process. Because there are many RCA programs to choose from, put together a group of people who know what’s needed and choose the one that best suits the business. After training is complete, set triggers for when the RCA should be performed, and implement the mitigating tasks. Be sure to keep an organized record of all past problems in case the issue returns. 

Prioritize cleanliness  

Dirt and dust harm the reliability of manufacturing equipment, causing wear-based failures. To keep machinery clean, establish cleanup SOPs. Some tools to help with this include total productive maintenance (TPM), 5S, operator care, and Kaizen. 

Final thoughts

The operations supervisor directly impacts company performance; therefore, the bar he/she sets will affect product and employee output. With this in mind, it’s important that operations supervisors lead by example with a holistic understanding of their team, equipment, products, and procedures. 

About OptiAM®: OptiAM® EAM software is a secure, web-based application designed to address unique customer requirements. Originally developed for the US Military by experienced maintenance personnel, OptiAM® is applicable to a wide range of asset types in any environment. Configurable and intuitive, OptiAM® applies to users in any industry.

About ASI: Andromeda Systems, Incorporated (ASI) is an ISO-9001:2008 company committed to superior technical performance and excellence in customer satisfaction. Our mission is to assist asset and fleet managers in achieving optimal levels of economy, availability, and safety by developing and applying leading systems engineering tools, processes, and expertise. We are headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, with offices in Lexington Park, MD; Arlington, VA; Jacksonville, FL; Havelock, NC; Oklahoma City, OK and San Diego, CA.