Continuous Improvement Techniques Used in a Manufacturing Environment
Continuous improvement techniques get enhanced in a manufacturing environment with convenient tools and software. Learn about them in this guide.
Manufacturing is still a major force in the US. Manufacturing roles provide around 12 million jobs. It’s also a diverse area of the economy. Manufacturing covers areas ranging from food to parts and vehicle manufacturing.
It’s a career path that also provides a surprisingly good income. Of course, the viability of any given manufacturer often depends on boosting efficiency and keeping costs down. Enter continuous improvement in the manufacturing environment.
Not sure what continuous improvement techniques are? Keep reading to learn about some key techniques that manufacturing companies use.
One of the classic techniques is Kaizen. The term actually loosely translates to continuous improvement.
This technique encourages employees in all areas of the business to analyze their respective areas. If employees see ways to make processes more efficient, they’re encouraged to bring that idea to the attention of management.
The idea here isn’t for employees to suggest sweeping changes, but leverage their deep personal experience to identify the small changes that always go overlooked.
The 5 Whys
When things go wrong, businesses routinely slap blame on the last person associated with the process. If something arrives late, for example, you blame the person tasked with the delivery.
The 5 Whys approach looks to get at the essential cause of a problem. You might ask the person tasked with making the delivery why they’re late. Of course, they may have delivered it as soon as they got it, which means someone else was late.
So, then you ask why that person was late. You might learn that a shift was short-staffed. Why was the shift short-staffed?
By asking why 5 levels back, you often discover more fundamental problems that require attention and repair. By making those repairs, you often improve overall performance.
The basic idea of Gemba Walks is that the part of the business that actually creates value is often at a distance from the places where leadership makes decisions. For example, if a CEO has an office in Chicago and a manufacturing plant in Texas, odds are good that the CEO doesn’t visit that plant very often.
With Gemba Walks, leadership actually spends time in the areas that generate the value or profit for the business. That means that upper leadership actually spends time in or near manufacturing environments.
The theory is that this gives them insight into the process and can lead to improvements in efficiency and performance.
Continuous Improvement in the Manufacturing Environment
There are a number of techniques that a business can use for continuous improvement in the manufacturing environment. The Kaizen approach leans heavily on the experience and insight of workers to identify small process improvements.
The 5 Whys approach looks deeper than the immediate apparent cause of a problem for potentially systemic problems. Solving those bigger problems can boost efficiency.
Gemba Walks attempt to keep leadership connected to the actual processes with the hope that it will generate improvement insights.
JSK Recruiting specializes in connecting manufacturers with workers. For more information, please contact JSK Recruiting today.