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Continuous Improvement

By Bob Beckmann, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager and Certified Energy Manager

Are you a gatekeeper who monitors and assesses ideas before you let them pass through to the next stage of development…or are you the keymaster, the one who holds all the keys and tells people “get this into production and sell it?” Both approaches can work of course, but the risks associated with option two can be far greater.

By David Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

I’ve worked in manufacturing for over 38 years. As a manufacturing engineer with Emerson Electric, I spent a considerable amount of time managing multi-million-dollar, new product introduction projects. As a consultant, I now work with clients managing process improvement projects.

by Tom Gordon, CFPIM, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

The Ancient Mariner thought it a good idea to shoot the albatross; many organizations approach an ERP implementation in the same manner: - looking for a solution to their problems and growth in exactly the wrong way.  According to research conducted by the American Production and Inventory Control Society [APICS] only 5% of organizations achieve their expectations and return on investment [ROI] from their ERP implementations. 

By Laura Lee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

Let’s begin with a brief history of post-world war II manufacturing in the United States:  high demand for products; the rise of the middle class; the eventual advent of offshoring due to higher U.S. wages; manufacturing fell out of favor as a career.

By Terry Siddens, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Every production organization needs a reliable process to plan and schedule manufacturing operations. While this seems obvious, many companies struggle to fully understand how their information process works, and this often contributes to less than satisfactory results in efficiency and profitable productivity. On its most basic level, success is fulfilling customer orders on time, ideally when the customer wants product, but at a minimum when the company promises and plans to deliver. Failing to deliver on time is a reflection on all aspects of the operation, and shortcomings in the ability to access and use critical operational information is often a culprit.

By David Felin, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

“Reliability Centered Maintenance: a process used to determine what must be done to ensure that any physical asset continues to do what its users wanted it to do in its present operating context.” – John Moubray

In the 1960s, the failure rate among first generation jet aircraft was considered unacceptable. Two engineers from United Airlines, Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap began researching the failure causes in the air travel industry. That research lead to reliability centered maintenance (RCM). RCM was first described in a 1978 Nolan and Heap report for United Airlines. Their report began as follows,

“This volume provides the first discussion of Reliability Centered Maintenance as a logical discipline for the development of scheduled maintenance programs. The objective of such programs is to realize the inherent reliability capabilities of the equipment for which they are designed, and to do so at minimum cost. Each scheduled maintenance task in an RCM program is generated for an identifiable and explicit reason. The consequences of each failure possibility are evaluated, and the failures are then classified according to the severity of their consequences. Then for all significant items those whose failure involves operating safety or has major economic consequences proposed tasks are evaluated according to specific criteria of applicability and effectiveness. The resulting scheduled maintenance program thus includes all the tasks necessary to protect safety and operating reliability, and only the tasks that will accomplish this objective.”

By David Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager, SME Silver Certified Lean Practitioner

Over the years, I’ve talked with many manufacturing managers who’ve had bad experiences with Lean. They read books or attend seminars and rush out to the plant floor to get started on a project. They may get some positive initial benefit, however, the overall operation doesn’t improve. They conduct a post-mortem to identify the guilty parties and eventually determine that “Lean just doesn’t work here.”

by David Felin, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Lubing machinery can be a hot, thankless activity. It also happens to be an extremely important one.  Since most maintenance personnel with some degree of seniority don’t particularly want to do this job, partly because they feel their skills are better utilized elsewhere, this responsibility frequently falls to “The New Guy”. It’s a dirty job that anyone can do, right?  Not really.   

By LauraLee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt

Ask 10 different Six Sigma experts for their definition of Six Sigma and you will more than likely get 10 different answers. And none of them will be wrong. Six Sigma means different things to different people. It may be defined as a structured problem-solving methodology using Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC). Others may simply say it’s a toolbox of statistical tools which we apply to issues involving quality. And still others may simply look on it as a metric which represents 3.4 defects per million opportunities. And they’re all right.

By Dave Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Does your company practice Continuous Improvement effectively or is Continuous Improvement just another program? Is Continuous Improvement part of your company’s DNA or is it just another phrase that appears on coffee mugs and t-shirts? These are the real questions you need to challenge yourself with if you’re serious about running an effective, efficient, cost optimized manufacturing operation that maximizes bottom line profitability.