Continuous Improvement: The Critical Factor for Manufacturing Success

Written by: Emily Himes

Read Time: 3 min

What Is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous Improvement (CI), the ongoing process of making your manufacturing floor more efficient, streamlined, and sustainable, has been a longtime business strategy to gain a competitive edge. As it becomes more widely adopted through analysis and reporting, though, it yields less and less of an advantage. While traditional CI programs give you lots of data, they reveal relatively few insights into your process. Digitizing your CI strategy streamlines data analysis and delivers actionable conclusions by providing visibility into your most critical production bottlenecks.

Best Practices for Continuous Improvement

  • Identify and Communicate your Goals

In order to effectively streamline your manufacturing process using CI, it is important to first create and communicate short- and long-term goals for your team. Whether it’s reducing scrap or improving product quality, a clear and measurable outlook is essential for your improvement journey. Especially if you are just beginning to explore CI opportunities, communicating a focused plan to your team helps everyone involved understand KPIs and how they affect your business.

  • Focus on Improvement

Empowering your team to be vocal about improvement ideas is important, especially in the early stages of your CI journey. Addressing seemingly small changes can lead to huge improvements down the line. It is essential to stay open to all types of ideas and foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up.

  • Create a Plan

Prioritize the ideas for improvement in a funnel by determining which ones are critical and realistic. Consider which goals are suited for the short versus long term and whether they are logical next steps in your process.

Continuous Improvement Approaches and How to Use Them

  • Business Process Management (BPM) Approach

A BPM framework optimizes and automates business processes. By focusing on optimization, BPM strives to ensure that all business operations are running at high efficiency, thus reducing lost time and scrap and rework.

  • Total Quality Management (TQM) Approach

Community is key with TQM, a framework that focuses on the participation of all employees in all corners of an organization. It is based on the belief that quality and customer satisfaction can improve when all members of an organization are committed to maintaining high standards.

  • Six Sigma

Six Sigma, a statistical approach to eliminating project defects and maintaining consistency, minimizes variability in the manufacturing process. When used with next-generation digital manufacturing capabilities, it can bring about increased efficiency, accuracy, and cash flow — while reducing operational costs.

  • Lean Management

While Lean Management is similar to Six Sigma in that they are both designed to make organizations more efficient, it focuses more on directly addressing waste. In Lean, unnecessary transportation, excess inventory, and defective products are all considered waste, which is then minimized by making the most of labor, materials, machinery, and time.

Continuous Improvement and Digital Performance Management

Regardless of the specific approach that manufacturers use in their CI efforts, many are missing specific insights that drive efficient problem-solving. That’s why over half of manufacturing leaders surveyed are looking to bolster their CI efforts with real-time data to inform faster corrective actions, with 40% focused on faster root cause analysis.

PTC’s ThingWorx Digital Performance Management (DPM) can:

  • Help you identify where you are losing the most production time, so your CI team will know which bottlenecks to focus on and the likely results on the unit, line, facility, or even the entire production network
  • Boost employee engagement by providing shift performance visibility, accountability, and feedback to stakeholders

Learn More About ThingWorx

Find out how ThingWorx can give your organization a competitive advantage when it comes to CI on the manufacturing floor. Click Here
Tags: Industrial Internet of Things Thingworx Increase Manufacturing Productivity

About the Author

Emily Himes Emily is a Content Marketing Specialist on PTC’s Commercial Marketing team based in Boston, MA. Her writing supports a variety of PTC’s product and service offerings.