Proactive Or Reactive-Continuous Improvement

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How is your business model? Is continuous improvement part of the system and is it incorporated to help be more efficient? Every production manager has the same story. Day after day time is spent putting off fires. These fires are still the same, some may be the design change or machine failure or yet another. A change or error is all it would take to create these fires and time is just spent fixing them. If that is the job description that fits your profile then read along.

I am not going to advice on being telepathic nor have a vision of issues that arise continuous improvement. But I will definitely ask to look at the nature of issues and problems. Are these problems signifying a pattern? In everyday life so much effort is placed to resolving them while most of them can be easily eliminated. Simple checklists, Work instructions, notice boards, problem solving vision boards are ideal for use. What is required is the attitude.

In this climate it’s not a good idea to raise red flags and I completely agree to that. Sometimes issues arise and solving them is good to be seen as problem solver and productive member of team. But if it’s repetitive then it really can cost you your job. Getting involved and setting procedures is very important. On numerous occasions there are production issues which arise because of design errors. Instead of having a ground to score points, it’s important to acknowledge this as a big issue and needs to be tackled with great caution. Is the communication gap a hiccup? How to better that? How to better assist inter team dependencies and create harmonious work environment to build continuous improvement. Most of places when people run into such issues they have to stop for someone to come and help sort it out since they are tied due to lack of authority to make a decision for continuous improvement. Processes exist and procedures are guidelines to help navigate these situations and should be used heavily. Recently I came across a big manufacturer having quality problems. A thorough investigation revealed that their design team and manufacturing have not been communicating in organized fashion. There were out of date designs used to manufacture parts with changes written on them. It was evident that someone made a change but which version of design to use now. Neither the operator nor the supervisor went to ask for new drawing. It is the responsibility of the project manager to communicate these changes when they are accommodates in the specific projects. In manufacturing environment the culture of communication is very important.

Accountability, Awareness, Training are the grounds which lay the foundation to proactive functioning. These will reduce the problems to a greater extent but in order to eliminate them Organizations need to have continuous improvement programs and incentives to be placed on identification and implementation of them.

A system which works at greater efficiency will continue to do for some time and in time deviations will start to creep up. A system needs to be monitored and continuous effort needs to be applied to keep functioning at same level of efficiency. This will involve a lot of proactive working on each process. Only then the results are visible and reduce reactive measures to a greater extent.

This article was recently published by Quality Magazine on June 18, 2012

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One comment

  • Manuel

    June 4, 2012 at 2:25 am

    I fully agree, we are constantly dirving to improve the processes and cycle times of sustained product changes aswell as for new product introductions.It’s very easy to measure savings on VE activities, but not so easy to measure the savings on process inprovements.Again, taking your time in choosing the right tools and measuring the correct data is essential.

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