Some basics to implementing shop floor improvement programs

There are a number of programs that have helped businesses achieve growth with improved profitability.   Some programs are focused mainly on manufacturing such as Total Productive Maintenance, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and Quick Response Manufacturing.  There are other programs that are applicable to any business such as EOS, (Entrepreneurial Operating System).  EOS is a system that any company can adapt because the principle elements are applicable to any business (People, Vision, Data, Process, Traction, Issues).   Packnet has implemented both EOS and QRM with significant results.

Some elements that are common to any good manufacturing improvement program are effective communication and management involvement.  There are many ways to create effective communication; visual management systems are great communication enablers.   Sometimes it’s hard to describe all the elements of a good visual management system, but a good system would be obvious to anyone who walked into a factory.   Here are some critical elements of a visual management system for the shop floor:

 

  • Operator driven:  The ideal visual management system on the manufacturing floor is maintained by operators.  Employee involvement is the key to any improvement strategy.    When the operators are maintaining the measurements, there is a higher level of ownership.
  • Simple:  A complicated visual graph will confuse rather than clarify.   Simple graphs are easy to maintain and easy to understand.   The true “art” of creating a visual management system is breaking complex information down into easy to read graphs.
  • Relevant:  The information, graph, chart or signal needs to be highly relevant to what the operator can control.   Posting the companies real time stock price may be important, but there is very little an operator can immediately do to impact that measurement.    Measurements need to incorporate meaningful data that an operator can act on immediately.
  • Real Time:   As stated above, operators need measurements that they can impact with current actions.  Posting yesterdays results are well and good, but real time visual management allows action to be taken at the exact moment when needed.
  • Drives action and accountability:   Pointing out issues or problems is not enough; a strong visual management system will also show action and ownership while allowing management to follow up on critical actions.

 

Packnet has undertaken a couple of major improvement programs over the last couple of years.   We have learned that by far and away the most important element of success is management commitment and involvement.   As soon as management’s interest and involvement wanes, so does the program’s success.     We have experienced great success with QRM and EOS as well as using visual management.   Adapting these initiatives made sense for us.  We incorporated the implementation and maintaining of these programs into our management review system.   We wish any company the best of luck when choosing and implementing a continuous improvement program that makes sense to them.