By Gene Russell, President & CEO of Manex Consulting

When a manufacturing organization is able to make improvements in processes that are sustainable and embraced throughout the organization, it is a safe bet that there will simultaneously be improvements in return on investment (ROI). When productivity is increased, time to market is decreased, and quality is enhanced – all through innovations in manufacturing processes – both your business and your customers win.

Many of the most innovative process improvements have Lean manufacturing methods at their core.

How Lean Manufacturing Principles Lead to Manufacturing Process Improvement

How Lean Manufacturing Principles Lead to Manufacturing Process Improvement

Summarized, Lean manufacturing implemented the right way will optimize productivity while minimizing inefficiencies and waste.

The results of Lean manufacturing are customer–centric. When adopted, Lean results in:

  1. Quick Delivery
  2. Predictable Capacity
  3. Stable High Yields
  4. Higher Productivity/Cost Control
  5. Improved Logistics
  6. Market Growth
  7. Stable Margins
  8. Market Readiness
  9. And Ultimately: Satisfied Customers

All of the methods that drive manufacturing process improvement touched on below are either a by-product of or are synergistic with Lean manufacturing.

How the Kaizen Methodology Leads to Manufacturing Process Improvement

Kaizen at its core is about improving continuously. According to Manex’s Kaizen expert, Walt Tarpley, it’s an extremely powerful methodology that can quickly and cross-functionally be implemented so that there is continuous improvement throughout the organization.

Specifically, it is a powerful tool whose implementation leads to continuous manufacturing process improvement by doing the following:

  • Kaizen Improves Visual Controls
  • Kaizen Eliminates Clutter
  • Kaizen Reduces and/or Eliminates Waste
  • Kaizen Involves Standardized Work Processes
  • Kaizen Improves Material and Information Flow
  • Kaizen Leads to Better Organized Tools and Fixtures
  • Kaizen Reduces Setup and Changeover Times
  • Kaizen Creates Repeatable Processes
  • Kaizen Reduces Floor Space
  • Kaizen Improves Company Morale
  • Kaizen Reduces and/or Eliminates Overtime
  • Kaizen Trains Team Members to Identify and Eliminate Waste
  • Kaizen Improves Communication
  • Kaizen Fosters a Team Environment
  • Kaizen Quickly Impacts the Bottom Line

How Utilizing the PDCA Cycle When Implementing Kaizen Leads to Manufacturing Process Improvement

PDCA stands for PLAN, DO, CHECK and then ACT.

The initial step is to develop your PLAN by identifying the higher-level strategic goals and how you will accomplish them.

DO: Next, you implement the plan and take care of any alterations needed for the plan to work successfully.

Once implemented, your results must be evaluated (CHECK); and afterward, you course correct by focusing on any areas in which there are opportunities for improvement.

ACT and implement those improvements. All roads involving Kaizen lead to continuous improvement!

How the 5S Methodology Leads to Manufacturing Process Improvement

The 5S methodology is one that results in organization at its best. Much like how safety benefits an organization, 5S methodology does, as well. What does it mean? Abbreviated:

  1. Sort
  2. Set in Order
  3. Standardize
  4. Shine
  5. Sustain

An easily identifiable analogy is when something common like a broom is out of place. Why would you have a team member spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find that broom when adopting 5S will, in essence, make sure that everything is in its place.

This is, of course, a simplification of what 5S is, but the implications of 5S involve everyone on the team in identifying ways in which their jobs are made easier, more efficient, and monitored in a way in which they not only understand what the key metrics are; they understand how they are contributing to achieving or exceeding them.

At Manex, we are committed to helping you implement a 5S mentality throughout your organization. We’re also committed to helping you ace the last 5S: sustainability.

How Identifying and Tackling Six Big Losses Leads to Manufacturing Process Improvement

Inefficiency is anathema to Lean manufacturing, which at the end of the day equals Manufacturing Process Improvement. A seasoned lean manager might agree that the reasons for inefficiency in waste management boil down to “six big losses,” which are:

  1. Breakdowns of Various Types
  2. Set-up Time and/or Related Adjustments
  3. Small Stops (Which Could Lead to Big Stops)
  4. Reduction in Speed
  5. Start-up Rejects
  6. Production Rejects

When you tackle and resolve the “Big 6,” you’re six steps ahead of the game in improving manufacturing processes.

How OEE Leads to Manufacturing Process Improvement

It seems the acronyms involved in Lean manufacturing tactics are endless; however, what each stands for is exceptionally effective in terms of improving manufacturing processes.

What does OEE stand for? Overall Equipment Effectiveness as it relates to your machinery. When your equipment is defective or in need of repair, this leads to down time in productivity, which in turn leads to delays in production – and potentially, quality. That’s not good.

It’s critical that a manufacturing organization maintain its equipment and perform preventative maintenance. Think of it as a wellness check with your primary care physician….which could combat future illnesses before they occur.

Make sure your equipment is operating at a minimum of 85% OEE. Shoot for even more, because maintaining your equipment is essential in terms of manufacturing process success, and it is easy to do!

Manufacturing Process Improvement Is Essential

When your goal is to maximize operational efficiencies and at the same time maximize quality (as it should be), each tool in the manufacturing process improvement arsenal should be included. In order to utilize all of the tools most effectively, consider engaging a manufacturing consultancy like Manex to ensure you are capitalizing on every opportunity for continuous improvement.

Contact Manex at 925-807-5100, or send an email to

Manex’s expert team of Lean consultants for manufacturers is the most hired in Northern California. Lean manufacturing consulting is among Manex’s top areas of expertise. We bring to your team specific skills in analysis, and advise you on small or major adjustments to streamline your manufacturing processes. We work closely with your management team to teach them how to increase your return on investment (ROI) while also training them in effective Lean methods.

Ultimately, our intent is to quickly achieve cost efficiencies and increased profits for your manufacturing business.

About the Author

As Manex President and CEO, Gene Russell is a driving force behind the firm’s successful track record in helping California manufacturing companies grow and thrive. He has held three successful CEO positions over a 20-year period for businesses that included early-stage, private equity, and non-profit. He has served as senior leadership for global Fortune 100 and iconic consumer-branded companies. Prior to Manex, Russell led a turnaround at a California midsized manufacturer. His experience in global sourcing and manufacturing over several decades led him to Manex where he brings real-world experiences, and as a result, a personal passion to restore and invigorate domestic USA-based manufacturing. He can be reached at