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Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement

February 18, 2014


Top Story

Are You Solving the Right Problems?

Clearing up a nagging issue at work may depend less on creativity and more on asking the right questions. These three examples show why.

Most organizational leaders are at least adequate problem solvers. They regularly make decisions to meet the daily challenges of their industries and are able to navigate changing markets, regulations and conditions. When they fail and call in a consultant, it is less often from the lack of creative solutions and more often from the lack of properly identifying the problem. This phenomenon is largely due to two factors.


Recent Reads

Stay Alert: 5 Ways to Get More From Your Floor in 2014

North America's improving manufacturing climate means opportunity for the most enterprising floor managers.


Hearing Voices: Linking Customer Needs to People, Products and Process

The voice of the shareholder -- in other words, greed -- is more important to some companies than making their customers happy.


Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Vote Down UAW

Volkswagen Chattanooga President Frank Fischer said the union vote shouldn't imply that employees are against a works council.


Ask the Expert: Cost-cutting vs. Strategic Capability Building

Q: Does the view that leaders have of lean, (e.g., tactical cost cutting vs. strategic capability building) impact a lean implementation? If so, how? A: The leader tips his hand early on this one.  As soon as you hear the word 'tactical' instead of 'strategic,' it's pretty likely that the speaker is thinking short-term.


Minimizing OSHA Liability Through (More Than) an Ounce of Prevention

Six practical tips and strategies for employers in virtually any industry.


2013 IW Best Plants Winner: Thermo Fisher Scientific -- Growing a Quality Culture for the Lab

Thermo Fisher Scientific's Asheville, N.C., plant makes continuous improvement the foundation for growth.


From the IW Blogs

The Intersection of Culture and Change Management

If the culture of an organization is not closely aligned with the company's strategic goals, a major change is going to be harder to pull off.


Benchmarking Brief

Theory of Constraints Deployment

Theory of Constraints, a management philosophy introduced by the late Eliyahu M. Goldratt, doesn't garner the same attention as lean manufacturing or Six Sigma. Nevertheless, its employment by the IndustryWeek Best Plants winners and finalists is robust. As the accompanying table shows, more than one-third of respondents have extensively implemented it, and more than 80% are making some use of TOC.

Please indicate the extent to which the Theory of Constraints has been implemented? (% of plants)
Year None
Some Significant Complete*
2008 20 35 35 10
2009 10 40 45 5
2010 15 45 40  
2011 19 44 38  
2012 18 47 35  
2008-2012 17 41 39 3

* 'Complete' was eliminated as an option as of 2010.

2012 IW Best Plants Statistical Profile

Editor's Note: Is your facility an example of operational excellence? Do your manufacturing practices drive stellar performances? Would you like your team to receive national recognition for their efforts? If yes, then it is time to participate in the IndustryWeek Best Plants competition. Applications for the 2014 IndustryWeek Best Plants competition will be available soon. If you would like to be alerted when the new forms are available, please register online.

IW Archives

The Future Of Manufacturing: An Exclusive Interview with Peter Drucker

IW: Do you agree with IW's basic assumption that manufacturing is the most important part of any world-class economy? Drucker: No and yes. If you define manufacturing as the production of things -- and even if you extend the traditional definition to embrace the entire system of bringing a product to market, as IW does -- I would strongly disagree. But I emphatically agree if you extend the definition to read 'the systematic process of production' -- whether the end product is a 'thing' turned out in a factory, an 'intangible' such as software, or a 'service,' such as a mutual-fund share.


IndustryWeek Webinar

Webinar: How Sales & Operations Planning Helped Sony Launch the PlayStation 4

Prior to launching its PlayStation 4 videogame console last November, Sony automated its sales & operations planning (S&OP) to help it overcome many challenges common to manufacturers -- such as demand forecasting and non-user-friendly processes built on old databases. Attend this free IndustryWeek webinar on Mar. 13 to uncover how the company improved its forecast accuracy from 60% to 90%+, drove better profitability, and scaled its processes. Sign up now.


Manufacturing Roundup

Research Results: Use Sensor Data to Create an Analytics Advantage

Manufacturers have been using sensors in their plants for years. But there's a quiet revolution starting, as companies learn how to use sensor data for boosting efficiency, improving product development, and gaining market insight. Read about the findings from a recent IndustryWeek/SAS survey of 500 manufacturers, and learn how companies are using sensors, how to become more competitive thanks to sensors, and how to deal with the influx of sensor-related data. Get the free guide here.