Continuous improvement is a journey, manufacturing analytics enables that journey. You can start small, think big, and move fast.
First things first. Before we dive into the “how”, let’s start with the definition of continuous improvement so there is a knowledge base established before moving on.
Continuous improvement, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), “is the ongoing improvement of products, services or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.”
To practice continuous improvement, you must establish goals, because otherwise, you’re walking along a path of seamlessly never-ending to-do lists with no direction. Not to be completely cliché, but you need to have a direction to know how to reach your end destination.
We’ve all been at that point where we think we know how to get somewhere and decided we didn’t need Waze to do it. But alas, we ended up lost and had to turn to that trusted directions app on our phones. No? You haven’t experienced this? Just us, ok…. Well, either way, you get the point we are trying to make. Directions are essential.
In order to successfully embark on the continuous improvement journey, you need to set goals (i.e. directions) beforehand, and then, the fun part begins – actually making improvements in your factory.
What is Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing?
In order to explain continuous improvement’s role in the manufacturing industry and why it’s such a hot topic today, it’s important to go back to the beginning – Toyota’s climb to the top as an example of exemplary manufacturing.
Throughout the years, Toyota has set the standard, including the concept of continuous improvement, which in Japanese, is referred to as kaizen. It wouldn’t hurt to repeat the definition one more time for recollection purposes – continuous improvement (kaizen) is the “process of making incremental improvements, no matter how small, and achieving the lean goal of eliminating all waste that adds cost without adding to value,” according to Jeffrey K. Liker, author of The Toyota Way. He goes on to add, “Kaizen is a total philosophy that strives for perfection and sustains TPS on a daily basis.”
So, we know we need to make improvements to achieve success, but how do we even begin to make those improvements? Is there specific software that can help? How about a set of tools or insights?
Cue manufacturing analytics – the answer to your questions that helps move you along the continuous improvement journey.
What are the Tools of Continuous Improvement?
We’re going to be honest here – if you Google “tools of continuous improvement”, you’re going to get pages and pages of results that will tell you a few helpful tips like creating a culture that supports continuous improvement to the less helpful like creating a whiteboard with sticky notes or writing down project plans and performance data on an oversized piece of paper. The former, very helpful. The latter, not so much and incredibly outdated. We’re in the middle of Industry 4.0, and there is a much more efficient way to do this. This is where manufacturing analytics comes into play.
Manufacturing analytics is designed to provide visibility into the plant – track availability, reduce downtime, increase throughput and performance, and improve quality, all with data collected from the machines (and operators) on the floor. The data gathered can help improve your factory floor – you guessed it, which contributes and results in continuous improvement.
The idea behind manufacturing analytics, and SensrTrx specifically, is to start small, think big, and move fast. The data you gather from one machine or line allows you to make actionable decisions that lead to improvements. Then, when you’ve made improvements, you implement that process of continuous improvements on additional machines, lines, or even roll it out to the entire plant.
Continuous improvement is a journey, SensrTrx enables that journey.
How Do You Show Continuous Improvement?
Like we discussed above, continuous improvement is the process of enacting small improvements to achieve a lean factory floor. To show continuous improvement, you must first create a culture that supports the methodology. “Why is culture important?” you may ask yourself.
Well, how do you implement a methodology without the support of your employees? That’s right, everyone has to be on board with the idea and be committed to making that idea successful. Every person, line operator to CEO, is involved in the journey of continuous improvement. It’s truly a team effort.
So, What is an Example of Continuous Improvement?
Let’s say your team is on board and ready to embark on the continuous improvement journey. That journey starts with sitting down and looking at your plant floor – what’s going on? Is there one line performing better than another? Why?
These are the kinds of questions you and your team have to ask. Then, with the help of manufacturing analytics, you’ll be able to start collecting data to get to the root of the issue.
Since we’ve mentioned this over and over again, continuous improvement is a journey and manufacturing analytics is a platform that will guide you along the way – think of it as a roadmap. Except the roadmap is smart and as you progress along the journey, it will evolve with you. Start small as you begin your journey, think big of all of the things you could accomplish with this newfound thinking, and move fast to scale and grow your company.
Yes, we’ve said it before, and will continue to say it – continuous improvement is a journey. Are you ready to begin that journey with manufacturing analytics? Let’s work together to develop a map – schedule a demo with us.