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Continuous improvement for manufacturing companies

When an entire company starts working together as a team, it will allow everyone to share responsibilities and to take control over the future of the organization. This methodology is often referred to as "continuous improvement" as everyone wants to improve the quality of the products that are manufactured and also improves the overall performance of the company. With continuous improvement, you often see a number of lean manufacturing principles that arise like Six Sigma and Kaizen. There are many other popular methods as well like the 5 S methodology and Just-in-Time manufacturing. Every manufacturing method will have it's own way of doing things to bring about change to the organization. The good news is when you are focused on continuous improvement you won't need to worry about choosing only one method, you can combine several of them to bring about the right change you need.

If you choose to go for continuous improvement, you will need to refer to the PDCA cycle. The PDCA cycle is known as Plan-Do-Check-Act. What this will allow you to do is to focus on improvement by looking at multiple aspects and areas of the organization. There are 4 main steps in the PDCA cycle, they are as follows:

  1. First you will need to identify an opportunity where a change can be made. Where can you focus on improving something within the organization and find a way to modify it for the better?

  2. Secondly you have to then create the modification and try it on a small job. Starting small and testing it will help you to see if it can actually work and then you can bring it to the operating floor where it is ready for large-scale operation.

  3. After you have implemented it you will need to analyze the results. Was this a successful implementation or does it need a little more tweaking in order to perfect it?

  4. Once you have the kinks worked out, you are ready to make it part of your overall operating procedures and move the company forward in the right direction.

As you seek to make the PDCA cycle a part of your company you really need to keep the customer in mind at all times. When things are done in a customer-first manner, it will allow you to dig into the mindset of the customer. This helps you to actually satisfy the customer's needs as you work with them to understand what they want instead of always trying to guess what they want.

Your company also needs to work on ways in which employees feel valued by the organization. Suggest ways in which they can contribute more to the organization and by giving them more power. You have to show your employees that you do value and appreciate them for all of the efforts they put into the company. When they feel noticed and respected they are likely to work harder and to focus on adding value to the company.

Make factual decisions for your organization using data and other things that are real time. Having more information to work with allows you to make better decisions instead of trying to guess all the time.Finally you need to work on having a commitment to continuous improvement and to show others that you are making this a part of your long-term approach to quality. You have new goals and a new direction to take the company and this isn't just a temporary project that you will back out on in a few weeks. It will take a mindset change by the entire company but it can be done if a manger is able to set the tone for everyone else.

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