To make significant progress on process improvement you need dedicated resources and commitment from all departments. At Swiss-Tech we use a structured process improvement system to identify the top priority projects for process improvements. An example of a recent improvement to catch in-process changes was the implementation of the 2-bin method.
Process of Inspection using 2-bin Method:
- Parts coming off the machine are collected into Bin 1 until a certain number of parts have been completed.
- Operators inspect the last part of that batch, if accepted, they move parts from Bin 1 into Bin 2.
- If the parts are rejected, they are set aside and all parts in Bin 1 are checked.
- Only good parts are placed into Bin 2.
The DMAIC Process
Another data driven tool is the DMAIC process which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control (pronounced Duh-May-ICK)
DEFINE: Swiss-Tech employees establish the possibility of a issue and its importance to the customer and quality of the product.
MEASURE: The DMAIC team establishes a baseline capability of the production process – what is the process now, where is the project at now as far as size or other component parts. The team then measures and remeasures to gather enough data.
ANALYZE: The data is analyzed and digested to determine the key root cause of the problem. The data is put into graphs or charts and analyzed so the team can keep narrowing down all of the information until they determine the root cause.
IMPROVE: A course of action to correct the root cause is developed and implemented. The team then verifies the course of action to make sure it does correct the key root cause.
CONTROL: Once the correction is incorporated into the process, the team implements protocols to make sure the correction is sustained as the project moves forward.
Daily Gemba reviews are a key communication tool. Gemba is not an acronym but a Japanese word meaning “the actual place”. In lean terminology it refers to “the place where value is created” – walking the production floor to understand the process, work and ask question to learn. Our focus is to get everyone engaged and to promote employee empowerment. Everyone is engaged and involved in updates and ideas.