CI Ready! Delivers Key Continuous Improvement Insights and Strategies
Last week, PRINTING United Alliance’s CI Ready! virtual event presented the foundational principles of continuous improvement (CI), along with tips for its implementation and real-world examples in a series of daily one-hour sessions. Whether you are new to CI, or looking to onboard your employees in its integration in your business, here are a few takeaways from this informative event.
Know the Bedrock Principles
Kicking off the week was a look at the basic principles, tools, and methods of lean manufacturing and CI in “The Bedrock Principles and Tools of Continuous Improvement,” presented by John Compton, owner and principal of Compton & Associates.
Compton began with a look at the fundamental elements of an organization, which he defined as a group of people working within systems and processes to accomplish some purpose. Each of these elements is equally important to an organization's success, he noted.
And while the type of organization (e.g., a printer or nonprofit service) dictates the type of services and goods, the overall purpose remains the same: maximizing the value flowing to the customer while minimizing waste everywhere in the company.
Compton’s first bedrock principle is that the customer defines value. It is the customer’s needs and expectations for a specific product or service, including functionality, appearance, timeline for delivery, and total cost, that defines an organization’s value. And while it’s easy for companies to replace customers’ opinions of value with their own, Compton said it takes hard work and listening to truly define value. “If our goal is to improve our processes by minimizing waste, we must be clear about what’s defined as value from the customer’s perspective,” he added.
Another CI bedrock principle he touched on is that waste is everywhere. “Waste is any activity that consumes resources but produces no added value to the product or service the customer receives,” said Compton, noting examples of rework, storing items between work sets, and searching for missing materials.
Compton then delved into the eight specific types of wastes, best remembered by using the acronym TIMWOODS (transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overprocessing, overproduction, defectives, and skills). When it comes to waiting, Compton said, “Typically as much as 90% of a product’s life in traditional batch and queue shops, like most printing companies, will be spent waiting to be processed.” He also noted how overproduction is viewed as the worst of the wastes due to its impact in causing many of the others.
In addition to these foundational principles, Compton discussed improvement methods, the first and widely practiced being 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain). Attendees received a first-hand look at this method the following day in “Implementing 5S and Creating a Visual Workspace: A Case Study,” with Dan Rudnicki, continuous improvement manager, Royal Containers.
With three conversion plants, two corrugators, and shared ownership in a paper mill, Royal Containers’ CI journey, Rudnicki shared, was spurred by President and CEO Kim Nelson. She recognized that in order to grow sales from $68 to $100 million by 2023, the company needed to change from doing business as usual. “Currently in 2021, we are heading toward our $80 million track and are heading in the right direction for the $100 million by 2023,” he added.
In 2018, Royal Containers partnered with Quadrant5, a leader in CI and lean implementation in the corrugated and packaging industry.
Before the implementation, Rudnicki said, “We thought we were plant-tour ready, but we had a lot of work to do. The whole industry suffers from the same issues; changes were the only way we could be different, therefore ahead of the competition.”