Operating and managing a small manufacturing company in the current economic climate is more than a challenge. Sometimes getting from nine to five each day may be your only goal as you are just looking to survive and live to fight another day. With pressure closing in from all sides your business is at risk for so many reasons. Growing competition, increases in the cost of supplies seem to be constant threats and let’s not even talk about the allure of foreign labor costs. With margins getting tighter and the ever present need to find new underserved markets how will your company survive?
As the company owner or operations manager, you know there are changes that can be made to the production process. Many sleepless nights are spent trying to mentally reconfigure the assembly-line or figuring out how to cut time and cost from the production process.
Performance improvement is desperately needed but implementing such a program can be costly and time consuming. Time away from the production floor cannot be spared to provide the needed training. Lean, Six Sigma or a combination of the methodologies, could be the answer for small manufacturing companies but how can this be accomplished on a limited budget and with limited time?
The Small Business Lean Program presented by New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program brings Lean Sigma to small businesses in the Garden State. This program provides a blended course of self-study that takes place both online and through in-person consultations. This approach minimizes time away from the production line and reduces downtime during the workday. The three major areas of study are:
- Lean Awareness and Practitioner Program
- Targeted Process Mapping and Training
- Targeted Kaizen Training culminating in a Targeted Kaizen Event
Kaizen is a combination of two Japanese words: Kai meaning change and Zen meaning good. Kaizen combines these words to express the idea that big changes come from many small changes over a period of time. Kaizen is continuous improvement based upon:
- Good processes=good results
- Go see for yourself what’s happening
- Speak with data, manage by facts
- Perform root cause analysis
- Work as a team
- Kaizen is everybody’s business
Different names are thrown around describing manufacturing process improvement. They often can sound the same but are different in terms of outcomes. Understanding those differences is critical when trying to understand what process improvement plan is best for your company.
- Six Sigma is a measure of quality that strives for near perfection by eliminating defects. This term comes from the statistical concept of staying within six standard deviations from the mean.
- Lean Sigma addresses efficiency only. Implementing Lean principles will increase production speed and identify where waste is occurring. There are eight areas where waste can be eliminated mostly dealing with time, talent and production.
- Lean Six Sigma combines both speed and quality creating an efficient and more effective production process.
Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma have a long history. Different people are credited with being the father of the process. Bell Telephone was an early proponent of process improvement and Toyota Production Systems adopted the practice in mid-1980. While the Japanese are more widely associated with business process improvement its principles were being applied decades prior by Ma Bell.
We believe in the success of small business manufacturing in the State of New Jersey. Small business manufacturing plays a vital role in employment in the Garden State because it provides countless jobs to its residents. These companies are major engines of economic growth.
With the Small Business Lean Program, you can apply the same business process improvement principles practiced by big business to your operation. It is our goal and mission to teach operational skills to carry on the proud tradition of manufacturing in this great state. NJMEP is here to help improve your business!