Manufacturing and Supply
The manufacturing layout should be designed to be as efficient as possible, to maximize both labor time and stewardship of materials. It is important to consider laying the factory out in a logical format that syncs with the order of stove assembly. For example, the riveting station should not be next to the paint station if there are multiple steps in between those processes. Key areas to consider include:
- Ensuring sufficient storage space: This is important not only for finished products, but also for components that have additional storage requirements (for example, ceramic liners may need to dry before firing).
- Creating an assembly line system with ongoing quality control: Expectations should be set for acceptable quality standards, and laborers should be trained to recognize proper quality that meets those standards from improper quality that does not. Workers should also be given a clear directive for how to flag any component that is sub-standard. Providing incentives and accountability measures for artisans to prevent bad components from entering the production line can help to foster a sense of quality ownership among artisans. Generally, it is also advisable to appoint a quality manager to oversee final product quality and provide an additional layer of support for artisan-implemented quality checks.
Tracking manufacturing operations can not only help managers to better understand and run their businesses, it can also facilitate a smoother carbon crediting process by adding an additional forum through which sales can be corroborated. It is easiest to establish these tracking systems in the initial set-up phase of manufacturing operations if possible. Key areas to track regularly include:
- Production: The production of various stove components should be tracked to manage component inventory, especially if workers are paid per component produced. This can help to determine whether it is necessary to allocate additional human resources toward slower-producing components to ensure overall production goals are achieved.
- Expenses: Expenses should be tracked against final product output – this is important for understanding how the business is performing as part of keeping product costs low and ensuring attractive margins.
- Performance: Managers should be able to identify how workers are performing. Regularly assessing which workers are performing the best and what behaviors make them so successful can help to highlight opportunities for training, improvement and efficiency.
- Inventory: It is recommended to take inventory daily, especially if sales and production occur on a daily basis. Finished stoves that enter the warehouse from the production line should be counted, as well as stoves that are taken out of the warehouse for sales. It is recommended to reconcile these daily, as this can help to minimize lost or misplaced products.
Once the design is finalized and the production line has been established, it is important to develop a logistics system to maintain a reliable supply of stoves to facilitate distribution. Successful logistics can help businesses to run more smoothly and fulfill customer needs more quickly. This not only improves efficiency, but can also provide a competitive advantage over other businesses and provide better customer service. Key areas for which to establish systems include:
- Managing production and the transfer of stoves from final production to inventory.
- Managing inventory and liaising with the production department to track new additions to inventory as well as authorizing and tracking stoves to be released for sale.
- Taking all incoming orders and liaising with the inventory department and the sales department to oversee delivery schedules.
It is recommended to establish a point person for each key area to ensure all tasks are completed. A regular evaluation of systems, especially in the beginning, can help to optimize logistics.
- Communication: It is important to create and agree upon goals for production and sales, taking the time to discuss these goals with staff and addressing any questions. Clear expectations should be provided on how and when these goals will be evaluated, establishing clear incentives for meeting and exceeding goals and creating a path to growth based on reaching milestones.
- Preparation: Building up an inventory of finished products and spare parts can help to ensure that orders can still be fulfilled even if there are production setbacks, such as a shortage in raw materials or loss of power.
- Market Facilitation: Prioritizing commercial viability is critical in ensuring sustainability. Setting prices to allow for attractive margins can help to ensure that a product is attractive for sales agents and vendors to carry – if vendors are making strong margins, they will continue to place orders and make sales.
- Training: Training is important to ensure all team members have the necessary knowledge and resources to do their jobs effectively. Training can also reduce the risk of mishaps, foster teamwork and provide motivation. Identifying and appointing qualified and experienced point people to manage key training areas such as including production, inventory, procurement, sales, finance and administration can help to resource training needs for new employees and existing staff. These employees should be empowered to create training manuals, conduct trainings and identify and address ongoing training needs.
- Evaluation: It is helpful to identify top performers and underperformers on teams, and the behaviors that make them successful. It is advisable to cater re-investment of carbon revenues to support top performers and invest in successful business.
- Recognition: Acknowledging and celebrating successes within and across teams lets other employees realize that success is possible, provides motivation and can foster a bit of healthy competition!
For additional information on setting up sales incentives, refer to the section on marketing and sales.
Ongoing Product Evaluation
As mentioned in the product selection section, it can be beneficial to conduct ongoing product evaluations even after sales have begun. There may be additional valuable feedback from users once a product is available at scale, especially after customers have had a chance to use it for a while. Leveraging the Monitoring & Evaluation framework for carbon projects is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to conduct ongoing product evaluations. Kitchen Surveys and Usage Surveys, for example, can include questions focused on understanding how well the product works in homes, what users like, what they dislike, when they discontinue using the stove, and why. Examples of key question areas are included in the product design section. Answers to these questions can help guide future design modifications.