Structured, comprehensive continuous improvement initiatives have created tremendous value for manufacturing organizations. Creating an organization that invests in initiatives to improve performance through lean, six-sigma, Kaizen, and other methodologies while useful, can also prove to be a consuming exercise in change management and cultural evolution.
Continuous improvement doesn’t have to be cumbersome for organizations. Operational excellence can be achieved with great intelligence, and a variety of tools exist to retrieve information from the people who know your operation the best, including management and technical personnel, as well as operators. These exercises can be an engaging and fun, and experimentation and creativity can be encouraged to drive efficiencies and new approaches to manufacturing.
There are a number of ways to simplify your continuous improvement approach and to deploy appropriate technology to support them:
Consider how little intelligence you have today and get more: In some cases, you have good data on production volumes, inventory levels, and other processing activity. Automation and your control systems give you powerful, albeit limited operations intelligence. In a variety of cases, no clear understanding of continuous improvement project based or operations based workflow exists, and good data that can become actionable intelligence is buried in paper forms or stays with technical personnel. To run an improvement project, an understanding of your baseline state is critical, and tracking operations activity and data relative to that baseline is also crucial. Challenge your assumptions and find out what you don’t know first, and consider gathering more data to inform your project before you start.
Keep your technology approach to continuous improvement simple: Initiatives to drive efficiency or cost out of an operation don’t have to be complicated, and can be supported with modern technology that is cost-effective, and simple to deploy. With the right partner and an understanding of your continuous improvement goals, systems supported by mobile devices in a field-based environment can be configured to meet your project based needs. Technical and management personnel can be trained efficiently, and projects can start immediately after. With the right solution, you are only weeks away from the real-time intelligence you need.
Experiment and gather actionable intelligence before taking next steps: Most of your continuous improvement projects are experiments in the most traditional sense, that will either prove out a hypothesis about a potential improvement, or not. Run creative experiments that are time bound and focused on one part of the operation, and then engage your labor force with simple technology to support the project. Collect data, and then decide to implement solutions or invest in more costly experiments based on what you learn from the data.
To learn more about how SiteFlo customers are leveraging our solution to support their continuous improvement initiatives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.