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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

DOWNLOAD THE HOW-TO GUIDE

How to Guide: How to use a problem-solving A3 report

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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:

  1. Cargill
  2. Zhejiang O.R.G Packaging
  3. Asian Paints

 

Cargill

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:

  • Saved more than $700,000 in project costs
  • Was on track to meet 150% of its normal target
  • Moved from the bottom of the divisional performance standings to nearing the top

 

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.
Results
  • Production volume increased by 7.6%
  • The scrap rate for the 500ml cans dropped by 24.68%
  • The scrap rate for the 300ml cans dropped by 5.08%
  • The million-consumption rate decreased by 0.93%
  • Quality compensation was zero

 

Asian Paints 

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.
Results
  • Downtime was reduced by more than 50% to an acceptable 150 minutes per day
  • Learnings were deployed across Asian Paints’ entire manufacturing operation
  • Learnings were also shared with the US manufacturer to incorporate into their machine designs

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.

Contact us for more information on TRACC and how it can support organizational transformation.