Continuous Process Improvement in Manufacturing Explained
5 Steps to Achieving Operational Excellence
Every manufacturer needs the drive to improve. They should strive to provide better, faster, cheaper service to their customers while reducing costs and increasing ROI. But without continuous process improvement in manufacturing workflows, they'll never reach that goal.
The primary byproduct of organizational challenges is waste: increased costs, decreased profits, and poor customer experience.
If businesses don’t strive to overcome inefficiencies, they risk losing their competitive edge. Inefficiencies are everywhere. Chasing down signatures. Looking for documents. Using spreadsheets and paper invoices. They may be drops in the bucket. But, they add up.
And if this sounds like your business, you may be at risk.
You need more than streamlined processes to achieve operational excellence. You need custom solutions that foster a culture of continuous improvement in manufacturing. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time: that's what will set your company apart from the rest.
This is how you make that happen.
1. Quickly Scale the Right Solution
In an ideal world, business process improvement is a streamlined and efficient process. One of your employees has an idea that would benefit their workflow efficiency. He submits his idea to your process improvement team. They implement it and track its effectiveness in real-time.
Well, that’s how it should be...
But it often doesn’t happen like that.
Usually, you hear about the issue after there’s a problem that results in waste. And fixing it takes more time and resources than necessary. Maintaining a reactionary stance in your business puts you at a disadvantage.
A better way is to be proactive, and that's what continuous process improvement focuses on. It’s a better way to streamline development. With the combined efforts of every employee, a business can innovate by prioritizing workflow improvement.
Think of Continuous Process Improvement Strategically
Continuous process improvement across your entire manufacturing organization should be at the foundation of any business process over-haul or optimization. It’s not enough to “go digital.” Your organization needs to be digital.
But to do that, you need real-time insight into your business processes. This helps you find bottlenecks and implement solutions. You also need to track KPIs and ROI to ensure new measures are effective.
However, that can’t happen through the use of spreadsheets and manually handling data on multiple platforms.
If your organization is going to improve daily, you need a one-stop-shop that connects all your systems. And you need all your information in one place so you can better track inventory, team performance, supplier status, corrective actions, and countless other critical processes.
2. Maximize Resource Utilization
Most companies still use inefficient and outdated methods for the most basic tasks. A machine breakdown and part replacement, for example, can require phone calls, emails, Microsoft Access, spreadsheets.
Switching between those platforms, transferring data, and notifying team members takes time. Waste, that could have easily been avoided with a streamlined digital system.
But the inefficiencies don’t stop there. The difficulty in tracking these methods affects future improvement attempts. Information silos prevent departments from sharing information company-wide that could reduce your future rework costs. That’s more waste. Waste that costs the company time and money.
Your organization needs to be able to identify an issue, resolve it, and apply the results to other scenarios where the same problem occurs. Without barriers. Without errors. And in real-time.
When you have that kind of continuous process evaluation in place, your team members can focus on strategic improvements instead of reactive measures every time an issue or waste pops up.
That is the core of continuous process improvement in manufacturing.
3. Enhance Visibility and Accountability
Transparency is a key component of process improvement. Effective communication between team members can create a positive and proactive work environment while benefitting the company as a whole.
However, successfully communicating across your business isn't as easy as it sounds. Interdepartmental complexities, large-scale projects, and a range of vendors and customers to manage ultimately create various data streams that need to be tracked, migrated, collected, and evaluated. That can be a challenge.
The key to success here is to establish a common, customized, and centralized database for your business data. This will help your manufacturing organization avoid potentially catastrophic informational silos. It'll also enhance visibility across your organization.
A centralized data system (specifically in systems that provide for real-time reporting) allows for the operational insight your manufacturing company needs to rapidly adjust in any situation.
From vendor management to customer relationship management, you'll get the data you need to keep everyone happy while increasing your bottom line.
4. Improve Customer Experience
While the main goal is to improve your customer experience, the real goal for continuous process improvement is to save your business time and resources.
More resources mean you can build the features your customers need and exceed their expectations. More time means your team can focus on high-level tasks like customer engagement.
The truth is that manual, menial tasks that could be automated waste a lot of time and use up a lot of resources. Continuous process improvement steals back that time. It gives you the time and resources you need to build a better business that regularly over-delivers on customer expectations.
But it also creates an opportunity for your manufacturing company to focus on making company-wide improvements. It frees up time and resources for teams to find innovative strategies and technology to solve critical challenges.
As your business adopts a culture of continuous process improvement, they'll learn to regularly look for issues, create improvements, evaluate their success, and look for new opportunities. The end result is a more efficient business that can better serve its customers.
5. Adapt or Fail
Lean manufacturing processes must become a strategic priority if you want your company to stay competitive. Without eliminating waste that increases costs, decreases productivity, and decreases efficiency you can't compete with other leading manufacturers.
The key to maximizing resource utilization is through automating key processes. By centralizing data and aggregating insights via dashboards, you can reduce waste and save time that would otherwise be spent transcribing information from paper, pencil, and spreadsheets.
Low Code and Continuous Process Improvement in Manufacturing
With a low-code platform like Quickbase, you can quickly create and deploy lean initiatives throughout your manufacturing company. For example, you can quickly create custom solutions to track defects, manage inventory, and automate the entire procurement process. All without a huge IT expense or the time involved in creating custom solutions.
Imagine tasks that previously spanned 10 - 15 hours over 3 days reduced to 2 hours over a single afternoon. That's the power of automating and integrating your manufacturing processes and workflows with a low code platform.
Quickbase also provides leverage through continuous improvement by identifying the root causes of waste and managing projects to implement the countermeasures. It allows you to continually perfect your unique business processes.
The result is a continuous improvement culture that regularly looks for ways to improve crucial processes.
See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.