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Improvement Toolkit / 10 Minutes Improvement

10-point Manufacturing Improvement Plan to improve your business in 10 minutes

It takes less than 10 minutes to read this 10-point manufacturing improvement plan. You should be able to deal with each of the points in 10 minutes – and make real improvements to your business.

1: Check to see if you have an improvement plan – if you don’t, create one. If the plan changes, let people know so they can catch up with any new improvement strategies and you can discourage any ‘we’ve always done it like this’ attitudes.

2: Add up the benefits delivered by your improvement activity and the cost incurred to achieve those results. If the payback is less than a 3:1 ratio, start to ask some difficult questions. Why is the business paying out for something which does not bring in significant financial benefits?

3: Ask a few questions of your senior team – like ‘What are the top three business losses?’ If they come up with different answers, it’s time to ask some more tough questions. There has to be agreement on the biggest losses from the outset so they can be tackled effectively.

4: Go and watch your plant. In 10 minutes, how much of that time was spent with the machines not running? Does this look anything like the figure reported by your management information system? Downtime equals ‘down the drain’ losses.

5: Check your waste figure. If you sell waste or pay for someone to take it away, does it look similar to your reported waste figure? There may be some discrepancy between what is actually happening at your plant and what the figures reveal. As the quote goes: ‘Facts are stubborn things, statistics are more pliable.’ What is the real situation?

6: Keep score in your morning meeting on issues raised. What percentage of these had a ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ assigned? Were the actions from the previous meeting properly reviewed? People may feel pressurised to bring something new to a meeting, and this can sideline earlier issues. The ‘if it’s been discussed, tick it off the list’ approach won’t work in the long-term. Also check that items only get removed from the list when the action is truly complete.

7: Stop people if they start to problem-solve based on opinion or experience in meetings. Challenge people to prove their assertions. Encourage them to bring along physical examples of the problems rather than relying on opinions and recollections. For example if the top crust of a cake is too high – and too wasteful – let people see the problem for themselves. People are very visual. Everyone seeing the real thing in front of them rather than a sketch or gesticulation of the hands will find it easier to share your view of the problem.

8: Cancel any reports that you don’t think are being used. If someone wants them they will ask for them. It is pointless producing a document with facts and figures telling you what you already know. Reports may keep people busy for the wrong reasons, wasting time, energy and resources which could be channelled elsewhere.

9: Work out how much more your business would make if your efficiency hit 100% and your waste hit 0% – this is the total ‘opportunity’ for the business. Take half of this figure and compare it with your improvement target. If your improvement target is much smaller than this figure then your improvement targets may be too ‘soft’.

10: If you are in a senior leadership role, take a keen and regular interest in improvement. Management teams take their cues from you, so make sure you live and breathe improvement daily. People must not hold back because they are intimidated by the fact you may not like what they have to say. Hiding information is hiding the problem and hoping it will go away instead of solving it at the earliest opportunity.

Testimonials

We have known about that problem for ages, why did we wait until now to sort it out?

Operative

The focussed homework, linking the learning to ongoing behaviour and leadership habits, was particularly useful. Excellent 5* training.

Front Line Manager on Aspire Programme