Friday, May 20, 2016

Product Launch in the Digital Age


Product Launch in the Digital Age
New product development and innovation are critical to survival and growth in the manufacturing world. Bringing new products to market is important to the long-term health and success of your business. Relying on successes of the past is a quick path to extinction, and manufacturers must continually seek new ways to serve their customers. New products are an important source of revenue, bring in higher sales, increasing consumer loyalty and improving market share.

Importance of the Launch
A new product launch must be carried out meticulously. This is your new product’s opportunity to make a great first impression and gain customers’ attention and convince them to make a purchase. Successful launches will make or break new product sales. Even if you possess the best new product on the market, it will fall flat unless a strategic launch plan has been developed. So much is riding on the development and launch of new products!

The Digital Landscape
The Internet has revolutionized how we communicate, buy and sell, impacting how we develop and launch products. It is projected that 90% of all future products will be produced virtually. Digital manufacturing is one of America’s greatest and most underutilized competitive assets. How can this asset work for your company?

Lean Methodologies Drive Innovation
Lean collaboration, design, and production planning tools are key to achieving your goal: a flawless product launch in the shortest time at the least cost.

Most known for their application to the production floor, Lean methodologies have the ability to enhance all areas of an organization, including new product development. The application of Lean methodologies to a new product development process can result in significant improvements in the design, prototype, pilot and initial production runs of the product, while creating a competitive advantage for your company.

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Has You Covered
Realizing the importance digital product launches can be in manufacturing, join the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center June 23, 2016 for EXPLORE: Lean Product Launch, a free event addressing topics from market opportunity all the way to successful product delivery.  The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center also offers lean product launch mentoring and consulting. For more information, call 888.414.6682 or email inquiry@mmtc.org. 


About MMTC
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting the Word Out: Environmental Public Policy

For years, one of the requirements for ISO 14001 was to make the Environmental Policy “available to the public”. The most common way to accomplish this was to place it on the company’s website. With ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, the current requirement is to make the policy:

  • “available to interested parties” (ISO 14001:2015 Clause 5.2)
  • “available to relevant interested parties, as appropriate” (ISO 9001:2015 Clause 5.2.2)

Identifying “Interested”
So, the question is: Outside of the website, how do you make the policy available?  Before you start jumping through hoops, let’s find out what hoops need to be jumped through. First of all, both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 define “interested parties” in a slightly different manner. ISO 14001 defines interested parties as “those who can affect, be affected by or perceive they are affected by a decision or activity”. ISO 9001 (actually ISO 9000, since ISO 9001 directs you to ISO 9000) refers to interested parties as “…those that provide a significant risk to organizational sustainability if their needs and expectations are not met”.

In both cases, not everyone is an interested party – but defining who they are is Step One. Which people/organizations provide significant risk to the organization? Who perceives themselves to be affected by the organization? NOTE: Interested parties can be found both internally and externally to the organization.

Get The Word Out
Once the interested parties are identified, you then need to decide how to make the Environmental or Quality Policy available to them. Depending on the parties, you might need one or multiple methods of outreach. Some possible ways are:

  • Post the policy on your website. It needs to be in a location that is fairly conspicuous, such as off the main landing page. Bear in mind that placing it here will allow it to be available to a much broader audience than just your interested parties. 
  • Post the policy in the lobby of your business. This is only an option if interested parties have access to the lobby. If you use a gatehouse to keep the public out of the building, you could post it at the gatehouse. Just make sure it is readable on the public side for accessibility.
  • Make it a menu item in your phone system. 
  • Post it on a bulletin or banner affixed to your building. It must be readable from the road, or from a sidewalk, or wherever the public has easy access to it.

All of the above will undoubtedly result in more than just your interested parties having access to your Quality or Environmental Policy. Restricting access to just your interested parties will take a lot more thought and complexity. Whatever method you choose is up to you, but it must be effective enough to ensure the appropriate people have access to it.

To learn more about ISO 14001, ISO 9001, or other quality standards, contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org.


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Measure Your Process Improvements


key performance indicators (KPIs): measure your process improvements
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential tools used in manufacturing management. These metrics can be used to measure the overall success of an organization or manage daily functions. Measurements help determine if operations are effective or if changes need to be made in order to avoid future inefficiencies and problems.

Which KPIs will help better manage business operations and become more efficient? Well, every aspect of the manufacturing process can be measured! It is important to quantify meaningful indicators that help the organization achieve its goals. Information is only valuable if it is used correctly to improve operations.

Examples of KPIs in Manufacturing
Hundreds of data sources are usually available, but too much information gets overwhelming. Below are some examples of the most commonly used KPIs in manufacturing.

  • Count – The amount of product produced.
  • Reject ratio – The ratio of unacceptable units resulting in scrap.
  • Rate – How fast or slow machines produce goods.
  • Target – Goals for rate and quality.
  • Takt time – The length of time to complete a task (the average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit).
  • Overall Equipment Efficiency – Measures resource utilization.
  • Downtime – Any time the machines are not running.
KPIs measure efficiency, effectiveness and capability. All of these measures are quantifiable and meaningful. Ideally, they should help drive the decision-making process leading to continuous process improvement. Lagging indicators are typically “output” oriented, easy to measure but hard to improve or influence. Leading indicators are input oriented, hard to measure and easy to influence.

Getting Started
  1. Use operational goals to strategically decide what indicators to monitor. Many companies attempt to monitor too many indicators and begin to suffer from “paralysis by analysis”.  
  1. Decide who will be using this information and what level of detail each user will have access to. Not all users require the same level of detail. Some may only need a high level overview while others need advanced analytical functionality.
  1. Information is only valuable if it is used, and it must be presented in a way that is easily understandable to the user. Dashboards are popular presentation methods.
  1. Following a “Plan-Do-Study-Act” format, make use of this new information. This process should be consistently and appropriately used in decision-making.

In order to successfully use KPIs, all metrics must be shared with employees since they must know how they are being measured. Management needs to know how each area is performing, but complete awareness and effectiveness only occurs if the metrics are shared at the front line. Otherwise, management has an impressive array of numbers and a great deal of knowledge but no real change in operations. Measuring for the sake of measuring is wasteful if it does not provide value. Do not get carried away by the numbers!


KPIs and Continuous Improvement

KPIs are a great guide when attempting to transform a business, especially during Lean and continuous improvement initiatives. They provide the baseline for any subsequent improvement and measure business process improvement.

MMTC can assist your company in deciding which KPIs to study to meet organizational goals. For more information about our Lean Business Solutions, contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at 888-414-6882 or click here.


About MMTC
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.