(This is a contributed post)
Project management can be pretty challenging no matter what sector you’re doing it in. Every one comes with it’s unique problems, whether you’re looking to implement system thinking across teams or manage an extremely tight budget. Project management in manufacturing is just as difficult and time consuming. However, there are some unique problems in manufacturing which are worth looking into. Issues which can make any project managers life a misery unless they’re kept in mind and dealt with properly. You might have already considered these, which is great, but they can help shift your perspective to the right one
One of the key issues in the manufacturing industry is that certain machines and systems can take months to manufacture. Some take way less time of course, but are still a little scarce. This can range from complex conveyor belt systems to high precision weighing scales and anything else. If your project requires the acquisition of these machines and hard to get components, order them asap. Some of them will take a long time to make. Even if you buy them thinking they’ll arrive on time, there can often be delays, especially at the moment with covid disrupting business supply chains. If you need to order bespoke machinery, get it in the diary at the outset. Don’t rush, get the inventory etc right, but make it a priority.
Again, something you would no doubt be thinking about during a lot of on site projects. If you’re running a software based project you might not have to worry about it at all and instead by looking at the health of certain code and software. In a manufacturing setting however, it’s pretty important. As project manager, you’ll want to lay out the key safety protocols at the start of the project. As soon as people are messing around with machinery or are working in a high danger area, these protocols need to be in place. It might be that you’re working somewhere where they’re already developed and just need to learn and follow them. If you’re in a plant, or even building a plant, this is a first consideration. It may be that you need to recruit specialists to help you in this regard.
They always vary. There’s agile, lean, critical path, and waterfall. Finding what works best for the specific manufacturing project is a must. Remember, the methodology has to help you implement work and is supposed to let things flow with ease. It isn’t there to constrain anything. Manufacturing projects can be quite tricky so it’s always worth focusing on getting your methodology pitch perfect before you start giving jobs out and creating goals. The problem with manufacturing is that mistakes can be super costly. They are in other projects too of course, but if building, and manufacturing issues occur it’s usually a bit harder to roll the mistakes back, especially if you’ve ordered bespoke parts or are having something built. A solid, consistent methodology can defeat these issues.