The New Year is finally here! It's nice to take this time to think about everything we’ve accomplished in 2018, as we get excited to begin 2019. That’s why we’d like to take a moment and reflect on the top five manufacturing posts published on the HUI Manufacturing Blog in 2018.
Continuous improvement should be a big part of every manufacturing company’s culture, so it’s important to find ways to encourage employees to get involved. At HUI, we bring together a lead from each team, who focuses on finding opportunities to make company-wide improvements. However assembling the team is just a start, so we’re going to cover some ideas on how to encourage continuous improvement on the shop floor.
In a recent blog post we discussed "Activities to Get You Started with Continuous Improvement" to give you more information on some popular activities you can use to weed out the unnecessary wastes in your manufacturing processes. However, in that post we didn't go into detail about the types of wastes you might find. The best way to illustrate those wastes is to remember the acrostic: "Downtime", which derives from the seven forms of muda/waste outlined by Toyota Production System. The eighth waste was added in the 1990s as the system became more widely accepted around the world (source: The Lean Way Blog). Keeping these eight wastes in mind will keep you in the continuous improvement mindset, so we've created this "8 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing" Infographic to help you remember what each letter stands for.
You’ve probably heard it many times before: “work smarter not harder”. This is a great phrase to live by, but it is much easier said than done. Especially when it comes to our own workplace processes. We get so stuck in our ways that we often need an outsider’s perspective to show us where we can improve. That’s why continuous improvement is so valuable, it puts everyone in the mindset to look for process improvements throughout the company. It also reminds everyone to never get complacent and settle for adequate work. Time is a huge commodity, if you don’t want to waste it, here are some activities to get you started with your own continuous improvement program.
The people who handle customer service for B2B companies quickly become the voice of the company when it comes to managing customer relationships. It’s an important role, because those team members are the customers’ first point of contact when they need help, need updates, and when they run into problems. That’s why it’s so important to create a system where customer service representatives can build strong connections with the customers. I sat down with Kathy Vogel, HUI’s Customer Service Coordinator, to see what advice she could provide about how to build these strong relationships.
When people first learn about our build to order policy, they tend to be a little skeptical that we can actually accomplish what we’re promising. Most manufacturers aren’t in place to follow the same build-to-order (a.k.a made-to-order) strategy as us, so it can be hard for people to believe it until they see it. However, once we do get a chance to prove our capabilities, they’re often impressed. It gives them a few reasons to question if they should consider switching to a supplier with a build-to-order policy, and here’s why:
We’ve been implementing LEAN manufacturing principles at HUI for over 15 years now. One of the best improvements to come from those changes was our made to order strategy. To give you a snapshot of all the advantages that come from working with a contract manufacturer who has a made to order manufacturing strategy, we put together this infographic:
Have you ever wished you had an instruction manual for your job? Imagine how nice it would be to have one sheet of paper with instructions and advice on how to do your job in the most efficient manner. Well, that’s what our engineers create for everyone on the shop floor in the form of standard work instructions, also referred to as job instructions or a JI. Creating these instructions involves a lot of planning up front, but they’re vital for the consistency and quality of each customer’s parts. That’s why we’ll cover what information your manufacturer needs from you to create effective work instructions for their fabrication floor.
HUI began implementing lean principles in 1998, and from the start, we included the offices in the lean transformation. Though it’s common for companies to implement lean processes on the manufacturing shop floor, it’s easy to see how lean thinking adds value to any work setting. I sat down with the Industrial Business Development (IBD) team to learn more about the lean principles they use today and discover how those principles have influenced their office environment.
Countless manufacturers have increased cash flow, lowered PPM and shortened lead times by implementing LEAN strategies and optimizing the flow of their fabrication floor. Most, if not all, manufacturers know that there’s always room for improvement, which begs the question: where do you start?