2016 Smart Manufacturing Summit: Solutions Exchange Takeaways and Best Practices

Manufacturing CEOs came together at the Smart Manufacturing Summit to discuss the challenges they face on a daily basis, including recruitment, automation and other systems advancement, such as Internet of Things, Robots and 3D, as well as ways to generate growth, including sales improvement strategies, lean, continuous improvement and more. Here are summary notes from these private meetings.


• For a continuous improvement process to be successful, senior management must openly demonstrate their support of the initiative. Th e plant manager has to “walk the walk and talk the talk”
• The leadership support must then cascade down through middle-management resulting in a culture shift focused on the principles of continuous improvement.
• It’s critical, particularly for senior leadership, to view the lean process, not as something else we have to do, but how we do it.
• Identify a lean expert or team and have them partner with the Plant Manager to further demonstrate leadership commitment.
• While it’s important to empower everyone involved in the initiative, the organization first has to define what is “touchable” (steps and processes that can be changed autonomously) and what is “untouchable”, those improvements that require management approval.
• Most people were in agreement that the most logical starting point is using 5S. And when trying to determine where to focus, simply identify the biggest point of pain and start there.
• It’s also recommended to identify a department or area in the plant to pilot the new initiative. During the pilot, solicit and capture input from the associates involved.
• If and when the pilot is considered a success, be sure to celebrate within the organization.
• Some organizations are having success using mechanisms to capture ideas from the workforce and incenting idea-submittal with various forms of compensation.
• For those organizations who would like to have 3rd-party support, many recommended contacting the Lean
Learning Center in Troy, MI.
• For additional support, engage suppliers and work with them to partner in the process.

The Biggest Takeaways
1. Continuous Improvement has to be a mindset, not simply a set of procedures and metrics.

2. Senior leadership must be committed to success.

3. Start with a pilot and get feedback from those involved.

Facilitator: Clay Hildebrand, SVP, Sales and Marketing, Psychological Associates

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