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Improvement Methodologies and Measuring Success

  • Debating the Value of POS Data as a Primary Demand Signal

    • Patrick Bower
      2018

    With the advent of new technologies, demand signal repositories, better latency and predictive analytics, is it possible that POS data has the potential to become a primary demand signal? ......Read More

  • Biomimicry Finds Design Inspiration in Nature

    • Richard E. Crandall
      2018

    Through billions of years of evolution, nature figured out elegant designs for its organisms and natural materials. Therefore, when humans need to solve a problem, it makes sense to look to Mother Nature. ......Read More

  • Understanding Kaizen Events

    • Peter J. Sherman
      2018

    Kaizen events are one of the most powerful ways to operationalize process-improvement training and create momentum in an organization. Following are typical kaizen events to consider at your organization.......Read More

  • The Wisdom of a Fresh Perspective

    • Michael McGinty
      2018

    I once consulted at a poultry processing plant. One day, a shop floor worker had just had it: “That’s it,” he said. “This is too disgusting; I can’t do it anymore.” He walked right off the floor.......Read More

  • Take Great Strides with Gemba Walks

    • Peter J. Sherman
      2018

    Gemba is a Japanese word meaning the place where value is created. In construction, it would be the job site. Gemba walks involve getting out of one's chair to watch a process, talking with operators and asking open-ended questions in order to better comprehend the nature of the value being created.......Read More

  • Competitive Change with the Three K’s

    • Dave Turbide
      2018

    Twenty years ago, I had an opportunity to tour a number of factories in Japan. I still remember being impressed by seeing kaizen in action. According to the APICS Dictionary, kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement. More specifically, the term refers to continuing improvement involving employees in all areas and levels of the business. At the plants I visited, it seemed that everyone was involved in finding ways to improve productivity, safety and performance. In fact, the cultures of these companies were clearly built around this concept, with workers encouraged and empowered to make small improvements each day.......Read More

  • First-Class Airline Catering at the World’s Busiest Hub

    • Mandyam M. Srinivasan
    • Melissa R. Bowers
    • Chris Fay
      2018

    The airline industry is fiercely competitive and challenged by rising costs and low margins. Airlines operating in this high-risk marketplace must carefully align their business and operating models. One company working to achieve this objective is Delta Air Lines. After facing significant challenges in the early 2000s, and filing for bankruptcy protection in 2005, Delta now serves more than 180 million customers each year and is ranked as the world’s largest airline by Forbes Global 2000.......Read More

  • Don’t Squander Employee Creativity

    • Dave Turbide
    November/December 2017

    Lean manufacturing theory says that all process waste can be classified into one of seven categories: defects, overproduction, waiting, overprocessing, transportation, inventory or motion. The lean definition of waste refers to any resource or activity that is not adding customer value. Based on this, it’s easy to see how some of the things we do out in the plant and in the warehouse can be considered wasteful. For example, moving in-process work around the factory floor does not add to its value — neither does redundant or unwarranted handling or unneeded inventory.......Read More

  • Designing Products for Eco-Effectiveness

    • Richard E. Crandall
    November/December 2017

    For decades, product design, production, sale and use have followed the take, make and dispose industrial model. The manufacturing company takes natural and synthetic resources; converts them to a product; and then sells the item to a consumer, who ultimately uses and then disposes of it. In this model, products are designed to be sold at a low price, are not intended to have long lives and are difficult to service. This means that, when a product breaks, the consumer’s best — and sometimes only — option is to throw it away and buy a new one. The problem is that products that follow this model are quickly using up natural resources and polluting the environment with all types of waste.......Read More

  • S&OP, Lean and Six Sigma: a Powerful Trio

    • Patrick Bower
    September/October 2017

    One of my master planners recently asked me: “Are lean and six sigma supportive of each other? And how do they work within a sales and operations planning (S&OP) process model?” Despite its thorny nature, I loved the inquiry.......Read More

  • An Operations Improvement Case Study

    • Michael D. Ford
    September/October 2017

    A regional distribution center in upstate New York supplies goods to retail outlets throughout the state. This particular distribution center largely consists of labor operations, and there is minimal use of automated storage and retrieval systems. As a result, the company had focused on achieving low costs and driving productivity through the hard work of its employees.......Read More

  • Evolved Operations Enable Progressive Supply Chain Management

    • Michael D. Ford
    September/October 2017

    Most professionals will agree that a standardized approach to supply chain management should produce high volumes of a standardized product. However, this often results in localized optimization, where a particular node in the internal or external supply chain is driven toward behavior that causes pain upstream or downstream. This method also fails to address customers’ desires for flexibility in terms of product variety. Companies and consumers alike expect special treatment, but a historical high-productivity business model is too rigid to accommodate this. To best meet market demands, the supply chain field needs a more evolved operations tactic.......Read More

  • Demolish Silos in Total Quality Management

    • Pamela J. Zelbst
    • Kenneth W. Green Jr.
    • Victor E. Sower
    September/October 2017

    Supply chain managers know that the integrated nature of 21st century supply chains requires the breaking down of operational silos to build a connected, effective entity. Different players within the supply chain must be aware of each other’s functions and activities and how these connect to their own roles. In this way, the entire supply chain can ensure that it is working toward a common goal and cooperating on the best way to reach it.......Read More

  • Six Steps for Implementing Lean Processes

    • Bud T. Miller
    July/August 2017

    To implement lean processes properly, first identify business goals. Is the objective to reduce product surplus or improve order processing times? Is it to enhance customer experiences? No matter the goal, it must be clearly outlined.......Read More

  • Superior Lean Strategies in Aerospace

    • Bud T. Miller
    July/August 2017

    Lean is used to describe the elimination of waste, particularly in the form of time, in favor of adding maximum value to a product or service. This is primarily accomplished by using feedback — including employee and customer responses — to address areas of inefficiency. In fact, studies have shown that an engaged employee — or one who feels valued and listened to by employers — has a direct, positive influence on profitability.......Read More

  • Planning and Delivering on What Customers Want

    • Ron Crabtree
    May/June 2017

    A properly conducted exercise using QFD enables businesses to determine the degree of product customization required, the necessary lead time, feature and function combinations, the degree of integration and other differentiators needed, and more key information about potential products and services......Read More

  • Exploring One Firm’s Go-to-Market Strategy

    • Ron Crabtree
    March/April 2017

    A client recently approached me about its newly acquired business unit. There was the potential to expand sales with some existing clients via new software, product, and service offerings that would satisfy an emerging niche area. This created a huge opportunity to deploy the concept globally, but company leaders weren’t sure the solutions could be scaled. Professionals knew what they wanted to offer, but they did not know how to bring a significant innovation to the marketplace.......Read More

  • Leaner Routines Create Supply Chain Excellence

    • Elizabeth Rennie
    March/April 2017

    In 2014, electronic measurement company Keysight Technologies spun off from Agilent Technologies. As a newly independent, publicly listed company, Keysight aimed to be cost competitive while making a profit and returning value to shareholders. Unfortunately, the spinoff created redundancies, duplications, and inefficiencies in its supply chain, which hindered its progress toward these goals.......Read More

  • Targeting Continuous Improvement with Laser Focus

    • Iris Nielsen
    March/April 2017

    Continuous improvement, at its core, involves a never-ending effort to achieve perfection. Whether focused on exposing and eliminating the root cause of a problem, identifying waste in a process, or adding customer value, it is a perpetual effort with many incremental advances that can never create a truly perfect result. Even though true perfection is impossible, those involved in continuous improvement initiatives should strive to come as close to it as possible.......Read More

  • Metrics Drive Lean 3PL Management

    • Ron Crabtree
    January/February 2017

    With the aim of identifying potential areas for cost savings and heightening service levels, a manufacturing company recently underwent a rapid assessment of its multi-million-dollar spend for third-party logistics (3PL) services. This firm had already adopted lean operations best practices, and decision-makers now wanted to extend that lean thinking into their 3PL activities.......Read More