What Continuous Improvement Looks Like in Manufacturing

What Continuous Improvement Looks Like in Manufacturing
By Milliken

There is no question that makers, on a worldwide level, are managing exceptional difficulties. While inflation, constraints on the supply chain, and a lack of personnel resources are some of the external factors that contribute to many of the difficulties, there are also opportunities that can be discovered, bolstered, and sustained by paying close attention to the things that you do or ought to do on a daily basis to guarantee continuous manufacturing improvement.

What Continuous Improvement Means for Manufacturing More than ever, manufacturers need to focus on continuous improvement in order to speed up the delivery of products of a higher quality to their customers, reduce costs, improve return on investment, and ensure a safe work environment. Companies that are able to concentrate with pinpoint accuracy on creating and maintaining a robust continuous improvement process that includes a daily management system, truly engages employees as “problem solvers” at all levels of the organization, and places a strong emphasis on reducing losses, overcoming inefficiencies, and cultivating a will to maintain their competitive edge Invariably, those who do not will.

Kaizen, a Japanese word that literally translates to “improvement,” is a derivative of continuous improvement. An approach known as kaizen encourages an entire organization to collaborate in order to achieve better outcomes. It is of the opinion that progress can be made incrementally rather than overtly. The goal of Kaizen is to reduce waste and improve standard procedures. Not only can you create a workflow that is more effective by eliminating waste, but you can also cut costs and increase customer value.

Kaizen results in continuous improvement. When implemented effectively, continuous improvement is a continuous effort that alters the way people work, think, and interact in order to enhance processes and strengthen capabilities across the board. It means constant, positive change to all areas of the organization. Similar to Kaizen, small changes over time add up to big gains without the cost or risk of making big changes all at once. In order to empower employees and provide leadership with support in order to achieve the best results, the authority to implement improvements should remain with those closest to the work.

Performance Solutions by Milliken successfully combines these components to provide individuals and organizations with the knowledge, tools, and capabilities necessary to move toward operational and safety excellence of a world-class standard.

The daily application of principles of continuous improvement can lead to excellence. The following steps can be taken toward continuous improvement:

  1. Alignment Every level of the organization needs to be in complete agreement with a common vision, strategy, goals, and objectives so that everyone knows exactly how they will contribute to “winning” and is moving in the same, purposeful direction.
  2. Prioritization, situational/gap analysis Finding gaps (where you are and where you want to be) Is it necessary to cut down on accidents or equipment downtime? Is it necessary to improve yield or quality? Assuming this is the case, these holes are obviously recognized, focused on and actioned to dispense with or move along.
  3. Education and planning provide individuals and teams with the necessary continuous improvement knowledge and tools, such as the DMAIC methodology and the 5 WHY analysis, to define opportunities, identify root causes, and implement long-term improvements in operations, equipment, and safety.
  4. Apply continuous improvement methodologies and tools, such as Value Stream Mapping, DMAIC, and Residual Risk Reduction, that have been learned by individuals and teams to manage projects and activities with a keen eye on “hidden losses” that are just waiting to be discovered in the plant.
  5. Monitor, Audit, and Verify On the production floor, conduct audits, shift handoffs, GEMBA, and Waste Walks to ensure that all levels of the organization are actively engaged in the maintenance of goals and the achievement of key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you make sure that you are getting exactly what you expect.
  6. Audit, Improve and Celebrate. It’s vital to audit and improve as well as to commend the achievements of individuals and groups to proceed with the pattern of nonstop improvement.

Standard Work: How to Create and Put It into Practice Taiichi Ohno, known as the “father” of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and the American Lean Manufacturing movement, once said, “Without standard work, there is no kaizen.” Standard work is essentially a repeatable sequence of steps that guarantees a consistent outcome each time for a given process. In order to ensure that everyone does the right thing, every time, and in the right way, we need to implement and document standard work at all levels of the organization. Variation is the enemy of efficiency, so we need to prevent it.

Does your business have standard tasks? Here is a checklist to help you figure out where standard work should be done and what benefits it will bring to each level:

  • Standard work tasks to increase customer value.
  • Regular work to help create value (for whom? Associate/organization/customer?)
  • Standard work to evaluate and support performance by managers.

The Effects of Continuous Improvement on Manufacturing the Performance Solutions team at Milliken is comprised of professionals who are highly skilled, experienced, and frequently multilingual. I have taught, coached, and mentored individuals and teams in all aspects of continuous improvement, operational excellence, and world-class safety as a Performance Solutions by Milliken practitioner. One memorable instance involved the empowerment of a manufacturing plant in the United States with a workforce that speaks 90% Spanish to learn, lead, and utilize Milliken’s safety and operational excellence processes. In less than a year, they went from having over ten measurable injuries per year to none. Not only did the employees have a sense of ownership over the safety procedure, but they also felt valued and were motivated to make significant improvements throughout the plant, focusing on Zero Loss Thinking (ZLT) and Zero Loss Harm. The plant received the highly coveted Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Award as a result of their tireless efforts, which culminated in the organization being recognized by OSHA as the pinnacle of safety. In a horde of different cases, partners have worked close by bosses and chiefs to reliably apply an extensive variety of nonstop improvement systems, devices, and procedures to lessen or kill squander, decrease personal time, lift OEE, work on quality and increment return on initial capital investment endlessly time once more.