Continual Improvement Strategy for Manufacturing

A continual improvement strategy is any process within a workplace that helps keep the focus on improving the way things are done on a regular basis. this could be through regular incremental improvements or by focusing on achieving larger process improvements. Production managers are often given a target to improve efficiencies by 2% or more every review period.

Manufacturers that focus on improving continuously become more competitive over time and can maintain their advantages in their industry. Companies that simply maintain their current performance levels but don’t make any improvements are falling behind the performance of their competitors and their sector at larget.

Taking on-going objective measurements help identify, prioritize and measure the effectiveness of the efforts being made. ShopFloorPulse, is an accurate independent measurement system that is objective, real-time and doesn’t require any manual recording steps. If you want to introduce continual improvement tools to your senior leadership, we prepared a presentation you can download and customize.

Continual Process Improvement Model

Many methodologies are available for continuous improvement. Finding the right what for your sector is important, we evangelize using the latest industry 4.0 real-time technologies. However, all continual improvement models have a similar cycle:

Making ongoing improvement in performance, commitment, strategy and process all help build up the company’s bottome line. This image also illustrates that any improvements in these four categories will also help build up improvement in the overall quality being produced by the facility.

Employee Involvement

When implementing continuous improvement processes, it is critical that employees are involved from the bottom up. Employee involvement, especially from operators, is critical because they are the ones that will have the best suggestions, if changes are pushed upon them there may be a backlash for being forced or penalized for higher performance standards or following processes that they don’t agree with.

A modern twist to Plan-Do-Check-Act

Another helpful concept is the “plan do,check, act” process. This is a cyclical process that traditionally walks a company or group through four steps of improvement. By continuing to cycle through these steps, improvement is always being worked on and evaluated.

Each step build on the previous step and feeds on the next. We recommend integrating the check step and the do step using the latest industry 4.0 technology.

Typically operators get feedback whether they are on target or not until the end of shift, end of week or end of month – well after they have an opportunity to make corrections. We recommend providing immediate feedback throughout the day via ShopFloorPulse so that if they are ahead or behind they know throughout the day and can make corrections continuously.

  • Plan – In the planning phase, teams will measure current standards, come up with ideas for improvements, identify how those improvements should be implemented, set objectives, and make the plan of action.
  • Do – Implement the plan that was created in the first step. This includes not only changing processes, but also providing any necessary training, increasing awareness, and adding in any controls to avoid potential problems.
  • Check – Taking new measurements to compare with those taken prior to the change is an important step here. Analyze those results and take any corrective or preventative actions to ensure the desired results are being achieved.
  • Act – All the data from the change is analyzed by management teams to determine whether the change will become permanent or if further adjustments are needed. The act step feeds into the plan step since once a change has been fully implemented, it is time to begin looking for new ways to make further improvement.