4 stages of process improvement in manufacturing: A rapid results approach
Process improvement in manufacturing entails the ongoing refining and adapting of current processes to improve performance, efficiency and profitability. It’s an approach used by leading manufacturers across the world to drive maximum ROI through a rapid results program.
This blog discusses the four stages of a rapid results deployment, and how this positioned some of the world’s largest manufacturers to achieve sustainable improvements.
Manufacturing companies operate in an increasingly uncertain, competitive and interconnected global economy. They face enormous challenges. However, by embracing a rapid results approach to process improvement in industry, manufacturers can mitigate ongoing uncertainty and benefit from incredibly lucrative opportunities.
The key focus area now is waste – and the losses it generates. Manufacturers are prone to production inefficiencies that erode their competitive advantages. A rapid deployment strategy addresses loss and waste head-on and sustains results through continuous improvement.
The rapid deployment process works quickly to identify and resolve excessive loss and waste issues. It uses only the most up-to-date information and relevant tools to carry out its work in record time. While no two businesses will have the same rapid deployment strategy, all strategies will emphasise the importance of collaboration, problem-solving skills development, employee empowerment and leadership.
How to improve your manufacturing processes
A rapid results approach to process improvement in manufacturing consists of the following four stages. Each stage involves several step-by-step actions that are all crucial to achieving sustainable success.
Identify and manage loss and waste
A rapid deployment strategy starts with a solid team leading a well-designed implementation. The team’s first step is to conduct a high-level loss and waste analysis of the organization. This will identify the company’s main “pain points” that need urgent attention to meet its overall improvement objective.
Lean manufacturing methodologies require leaders who are driven, committed and able to work together to achieve positive change. Before applying wholesale changes across the organization, leaders should choose a pilot site and steadily expand and improve from there. By demonstrating best practice through their own actions, leaders encourage employee buy-in and deliver targeted improvements with speed and efficiency, reducing bottlenecks and streamlining workflow across the production process.
Build problem-solving capabilities within teams
Invest in your team members so they can invest in new manufacturing improvement ideas. Sustainable continuous improvement in manufacturing requires people who are curious, motivated and keen to solve problems through teamwork and innovation. Problem-solving capabilities can be honed through training but first, manufacturers need to assess their leaders and teams’ current capabilities.
The best way to entrench a cultural core that supports ongoing improvement through successful rapid deployment is to appoint a team to lead the organization’s capabilities’ assessment. This team is also responsible for designing relevant training programs that match the organization’s needs. As a result, increasing levels of problem-solving competence and confidence will improve manufacturing processes which in turn, boosts profitability.
At this stage, the high-level loss and waste audits conducted during the 1st stage need to be distilled. A detailed account of areas in need of attention must include set targets and time frames to ensure a well-orchestrated performance.
Download the how-to guide: How to use a problem-solving A3 report for more on this problem-solving tool that helps eliminate problems quickly and effectively.
Manage improvement projects
Improvement projects undergoing rapid deployment cannot be left to their own devices. A governance forum is crucial as it allows project managers to check in and assess developments, ask for assistance and share solutions.
A daily management system (DMS) provides factory floor project owners and their teams with self-assessment metrics to guide incremental improvements daily. A daily operations review (DOR) helps leaders stay on top of their teams’ improvement targets and can ensure that everyone receives the proactive guidance they need to reach their KPIs.
By consolidating project processes, teams can celebrate their successes, document and share their learnings as well as review outcomes for faster and more effective improvement.
Sustain gains with best practice implementation
Sustainable process improvements require ongoing management. This includes ensuring there is an unrelenting focus on loss and waste – and on continuous improvement in general – consolidating the DMS, applying the principles of change management, and implementing other best practices such as teamwork and 5S.
Trusted experts bring with them a wealth of industry best practice experience and knowledge on a range of relevant continuous improvement methodologies. They support organizations by guiding them through the rapid deployment process.
The benefits of an expertly guided and well-orchestrated rapid deployment improvement process are numerous. In short, organizations can expect fast results that translate into notable and sustainable financial gains.
3 process improvement examples in manufacturing through rapid deployment
Some of the world’s largest companies in a variety of industries have achieved sustainable process improvement in manufacturing thanks to employing well-orchestrated rapid deployment strategies.
Here are three examples of how a rapid deployment approach helped manufacturers overcome process inefficiencies and improve KPIs:
Cargill Inc. is one of the largest agribusiness corporations in the world. The company’s flagship corn milling plant in the remote mid-western town of Eddyville is a major player in the US corn processing industry. Unfortunately, performance-related issues began to affect profitability which caused reputational damage. Plant management responded quickly to prevent further losses through strategic process improvement techniques in manufacturing actions across the plant.
|Challenges||Cargill buys and processes corn grown in a sustainable manner. This operational base drives its improvement initiatives in three key business areas: farmers, customers and the environment. The challenge faced by the Eddyville plant was that existing processes did not provide a cohesive journey to improve accountability, project execution, KPIs and shop floor involvement; a clear indication that buy-in, leadership and support were lacking.|
|Solution||Plant management needed to deliver positive change fast. It focused on the rapid deployment of the TRACC Solution. The Rapid Best Practice Deployment program focused on improving operational aspects, leadership behaviors and mindsets, manufacturing practices, organizational culture and training options.|
|Results||All employees were involved in the rapid deployment solution which improved accountability and project execution. As a result of adjusted KPIs, improvement initiatives became fully integrated throughout the company. This ensured a long-term transformation with positive and sustainable outcomes.
Within six months, the Eddyville plant:
Zhejiang O.R.G Packaging
Zhejiang O.R.G. Packaging, an aluminum can manufacturer based in China, employed a rapid deployment response to address global manufacturing challenges.
|Challenges||Zhejiang O.R.G. felt the impact of increasing material costs, stricter environmental regulations and rising customer demand. As a result, the company struggled to maintain product quality. Other issues included a lack of preventive maintenance due to skill shortages, limited problem-solving skills at leadership level and no cross-functional teamwork.|
|Solution||In 2021, Zhejiang O.R.G. embarked on a world-class operations (WCO) journey. It employed a rapid deployment strategy based on the TRACC Solution. Supported by their TRACC advisors, the leadership team was able to eliminate waste, increase production and stabilize operations within six months.|
Asian Paints is India’s largest paint manufacturer. When its new, automated factory in Khandala failed to deliver expected results, the company realized it needed a rapid deployment approach to improve outcomes.
|Challenges||The bulk filling line de-palletizer kept stopping which caused a lack of pails on the high-speed packing lines and affected production outcomes. Temporary workaround solutions were attempted but these resulted in contention and daily downtime. Added to this, the machine vendor was based in the US, which made on-site support prohibitively expensive.|
|Solution||Asian Paints decided to trial the TRACC Solution to improve its operational efficiencies and employee engagement at its highly automated Khandala manufacturing facility.|
In short, a relevant, well-led and well-orchestrated rapid deployment process can turn inefficient production sites into efficient and high-performing operating areas. By eliminating waste and optimizing quality processes in manufacturing activities, organizations can meet their customer needs more effectively and with greater agility. These quick wins improve manufacturing sustainability through financial gains, employee performance, cross-functional collaboration and overall business confidence.