There are a number of Continuous Improvement approaches that you can adopt, such as Lean manufacturing, which strive to eliminate non-value added activities. Continuous Improvement is an organizational mindset that focuses on ongoing efforts to transform into an agile, more competitive and more profitable business.
Polaris MEP will guide your Continuous Improvement journey and promote a culture where employees at all levels are empowered to ensure quality at the source of all operations. With Continuous Improvement tools and training in place, your business grows in flexibility, efficiency and you thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Apply Lean methodologies to reduce costs, cycle times, inventory, work-in-process and lead times. Lean processes will improve quality, safety, employee participation and team building. Ultimately your Lean approach will increase your output capacity, productivity, sales and profits needed for future innovation and growth.
Polaris offers workshops in all of the Lean components of Continuous Improvement and more. Click the tabs below for details and to register:
Value Stream Mapping is pictured as the steps leading into the Continuous Improvement House as this process enables strategic decisions to be made on where and how to begin your continuous improvement initiative. The Value Stream Map will enable you to see where the value in your process truly is and to determine what continuous improvement tools (5S, Visual Workplace, TPM, etc.) will be needed to achieve your Lean Enterprise.
A “Pull” system is one that is designed for production at the demand of the customer (internal or external) and includes visual cues or prompts (“kanban”) to trigger activity. These visual prompts, like an empty store shelf or a numbered card for example, increase awareness of product and information flow at all levels of a system, and minimize waste. Pull/Kanban systems can be brought about by a strong commitment to Visual Workplace, 5S Systems, Cellular Flow and other Lean methods.
Cellular Flow is a method of manufacturing that eliminates traditional “batch processing” in favor of formation of “cells” where processes and equipment pertinent to production of one item, or very similarly related items, are grouped in a way that assures smooth flow in the process with minimal waste. This system increases communication among employees and reduces WIP and rework.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a methodology for proactive and progressive maintenance which analyzes Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It combines the knowledge and experience of operators, equipment vendors, engineering and other support personnel to optimize performance. The goal is to eliminate breakdowns and reduce unscheduled downtime, resulting in higher throughput and better quality. TPM has a strong base in Lean Methodologies, 5S Systems and Quick Changeover.
When every employee, at every step of an operation where the “product” is transformed and moves forward, is responsible for the quality of the “product” that is Quality at the Source. In this type of system, the product is not allowed to move forward if a defect is found. This assures there will be no unnecessary processing of defective products. Lean methodologies such as 5S, Visual Workplace and standardized work process can assure quality at the source in every aspect of business.
Point of Use Storage (POUS) places materials, tools and equipment where and when they are needed in an orderly fashion, enabling each person in the organization to complete work as it is flowed to them. This practice reduces waiting and the other “8 Lean Wastes” which contribute to non-value added activities. POUS plays a role in the implementation of 5S Systems, Cellular Flow and Quick Changeover.
Quick Changeover/ Setup Reduction
SMED – Single Minute Exchange of Dies – is a process to reduce the amount of production time lost while a machine is down for changeovers. Relevant to a vast array of operations – take NASCAR tire changes for instance – application of this concept/process allows companies to meet customer demands on-time, with quality, and to reduce excess inventory.
Developing standardized work practices enables company-wide communication of best practices. It also creates an environment that is flexible and able to adapt to new technologies and methods as they arise. Applying the 5S System, a company can use standardized work to reduce changeover times, integrate pull / kanban systems, promote quality at the source and increase productivity.
Historically manufacturing production and business purchasing have operated on the “just in case” principal, focused on the idea that producing large batch sizes will maximize machine utilization and minimize machine changeover; and that purchasing large batches of like items at a lower “quantity based” prices was the best approach. “Make one, move one”. Lean methodologies take a “just in time” approach, working toward customer demand, so the ideal batch size becomes one. Reducing batch size ultimately reduces inventory carrying costs, space required for work-in-progress and lead times, enabling companies to operate profitably at lower margins.
Innovative teams are able to accomplish more than an innovative individual. Cross sectional teams engage all levels of a company and are able to respond to a broad spectrum of situations. The greatest asset of a company is the aggregate skills of its employees. Often, this asset becomes one of the “8 Lean Wastes” as many companies fail to capitalize on it.
Topics covered include: What goes wrong at meetings; How to find Win/Win solutions; The role of the leader, facilitator, recorder and group members; How to plan your meeting; What type of meeting are you going to hold; Who should attend your meeting; How to make meeting rooms work; How to put it all together: The Agenda; and Tools for Solving Problems in Groups.
The 5S System (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) improves workplace organization, standardization and safety. Other benefits include improvements in quality, down time, cycle times, storage costs and an increase in productivity. The Team approach, fundamental to the 5S system, will boost employee morale and improve your overall work environment.
A base practice in Lean methodologies is Visual Systems which enable faster communication of information within the workplace. Visuals also set standards and expectations that transcend language barriers. The use of Visual Systems is essential to the implementation and sustainability of 5S Systems, Pull / Kanban and other continuous improvement endeavors.
Facility Design / Plant Layout
Increasing the flow of work and information within a workplace can be achieved by applying Lean methodologies to facility layout. Whether through small adjustments to an existing layout, a site expansion or consolidation, or designing a totally new facility, applying Lean concepts will enable improvements in process flow, material handling techniques, distribution, safety protocols, ergonomics and equipment choices and upgrades. Learn about our Service.
Lean is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value added activities) through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in the pursuit of perfection. A non-value added activity is anything that does not add market form or function or is not necessary. These are activities that customers are not willing to pay for, like spending time to find tools. The types of non-value added activities are defined as the “8 Lean Wastes” which are: