As a Continuous Improvement Manager in the manufacturing industry, your -day-to-day responsibilities can be challenging.
From overseeing production schedules to addressing equipment failures and changeovers, there's a lot to handle. We’ll cover some provide practical insights and solutions to improve operational efficiency and minimize downtime.
Here are 6 practical tips for aspiring continuous improvement managers.
1. Understanding the Production Workflow.
By setting clear goals and outlining what is expected of them, workers can better understand their role and the scope of the operational knowledge they need to acquire. This clarity helps them focus their efforts and links their training efforts to real tasks. This is an essential component for success at the frontline, and doubly so when a temporary workforce must be brought up to speed as quickly as possible.
Tip #1 → Don't let crucial details slip through the cracks during a shift handoff - make written notes for smooth transitions and smoother manufacturing operations.
2. Key Metrics to Demonstrate Success.
Most organizations track performance with 1-5 core metrics. Some common examples include: production versus planned production (AVS), changeover time, errors, quality issues, Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), yield, production rate. Having a goal is essential in order to track performance against a target, for example: a goal of 85% of the planned production to avoid potential setbacks or inquiries.
As a Continuous Improvement Manager, it's essential to understand the metrics against which you are evaluated and the factors that influence your performance (and bonus). By tracking metrics like quality, yield, OEE, and production rates, you can showcase the positive impact of your efforts.
Tip #2→ Understand the bigger picture. Set clear goals and always track core metrics.
3. Overcoming Information Gaps.
Traditionally, information retrieval was time-consuming, often requiring manual searches. This approach hindered problem-solving and wasted valuable time. It's crucial to establish efficient information-sharing systems and ensure accurate documentation of issues, equipment maintenance, and quality concerns. Implementing digital tools that provide instant access to essential information help bridge the information gap and reduce the time to resolution.
Tip #3 → Seek out efficient problem-solving with digital tools that provide instant access to critical information.
4. The Importance of Standardized Procedures.
Well-documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) play a pivotal role in knowledge transfer and minimizing errors. By developing clear and concise SOPs, operators can follow standardized steps, reducing the risk of mistakes and ensuring consistency across shifts. Regular review and updates to SOPs will help capture improvements and evolving best practices.
Tip #4→ Without standardization, there can be no continuous improvement. Make sure your SOPs are clear, accessible, and up-to-date.
Clear, visual digital SOPs help standardize processes and deliver this knowledge to the frontline.
5. Tackling Complex Tasks and Silent Knowledge.
Complex tasks and products with infrequent production cycles can create challenges due to reliance on tribal knowledge. Changeovers, especially when switching between complex or irregular tasks, can significantly impact production time and your key metrics.
When dealing with these situations, it’s crucial to develop comprehensive checklists, implement effective handover processes, and deliver step-by-step instructions that make sense to everyone on the shift. This approach minimizes errors, enables knowledge transfer, and enhances overall efficiency.
Tip #5→ When performing tasks that are irregular and complex, checklists are your best friend.
Digital checklists on mobile devices allow teams to work through complex tasks step-by-step.
6. Continuous Improvement and Future Projects.
Establish channels for seasonal and temporary workers to seek assistance and clarification. Whether it's a designated point of contact, a helpdesk, or a collaborative digital platform, make sure they have easy access to resources and a responsive support system. This support builds rapport within teams and reassures workers that they are not alone in their journey and encourages them to continuously expand their knowledge.
Tip #6→ Encourage your team to contribute with their ideas. Collaboration and crowdsourcing is the best way to continuously improve processes.