Friday, May 29, 2015

Waste Not, Want Not With Lean: Common Wastes in Your Office

Historically, when you think of Lean, manufacturing is most likely to immediately pop into your mind. But in recent years, following the success of Lean manufacturing on the shop floor, many office environments have begun realizing the same strategies can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and eliminate wastes. Implementation can be challenging if improperly executed, but when done correctly and with the right guidance, there are significant benefits to be realized in an office environment. To start the process, organizations must identify common causes of waste within the office and develop strategies to eliminate it. The following are some of the most common wastes found in office environments.

Unused Products & Over Production
Joked about on the NBC sitcom The Office and highlighted in the 1999 movie Office Space, unused products and over production is a major issue in many office environments. The act of producing more than what the consumer wants instead of providing what they need or actually paid for is a fast way to lose customers and contribute to the inefficiency of the office and includes:

  • Creating reports that no one reads or need
  • Sending informational emails to individuals to whom they provide no value
  • Making extra copies of materials “just in case”
  • Producing more to avoid future setups/work
  • Entering repetitive information on multiple documents

Being conscious of these types of activities and reducing or eliminating the work involved in creating them, is a great way to begin eliminating waste.

Underutilizing the Knowledge of Your Staff
Too often, staff in office environments fall into a robotic routine where they perform the same tasks each day. Their skills, abilities, and knowledge are not effectively or appropriately used because they are not known to management and others around them. Examples include:

  • Bypassing procedures to hire a new candidate
  • Not providing opportunities for professional development and growth
  • Lack of training
  • Limited authority and responsibility for basic tasks

Being aware and taking an inventory of the education, experience and knowledge of everyone in the office will not only improve the productivity of the office, but it will also help individuals feel more valued and engaged, allowing them to improve processes.

Wasted Motion
Wasted motion is a term commonly used in lean manufacturing strategies, but it applies to office situations as well. How many times a day do you find yourself walking to your next meeting or bolting to the printing room? If you are like most, quite a few. Wasted motion includes:

  • Looking for items without a defined place, both physically and electronically
  • Employees not working to a standard method
  • Poor work area layout
  • Meetings involving non-essential members of the team
  • Printing documents instead of 

Take a look at what is going on around you, identify the areas of confusion and ask the question, ‘How can this be done more efficiently’.

Waiting
Wasted waiting refers to individuals and items being idle between operations when material, information, people or equipment is not ready. This includes:

  • Waiting on others to start a meeting
  • Waiting for approvals or signatures from peers
  • Delays in receiving information
  • Technology break-downs

Implementing Lean principles into your office provides great opportunity for growth and productivity and it all starts with eliminating waste. Address the causes of the waste and eliminate them.

MMTC’s Lean Office Champion Training is here to help you get started. Join us for Lean Office Champion Training, a 3-day course, on June 16, 2015. LEARN MORE


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 22, 2015

ISO 9001 Changes: Do I Wait Until 2016 or Get Certified Now?

There have been many questions circulating from our manufacturers regarding ISO 9001
certification. One of the most prevalent questions was whether a company should register to ISO 9001:2008 now, or wait until ISO 9001:2015 is released. Although it may sound counter intuitive, the best option may be to register to ISO 9001:2008 now and then plan to transition to the 2015 version at a later time. REMEMBER: If you are certified to the current standard, ISO 9001:2008, you’ll have three years before you have to upgrade to the ISO 9001:2015 standard, which should be AFTER JANUARY 2016. 

There are several SIGNIFICANT reasons to register now for ISO 9001:2008.

Wait Out the Confusion
Anytime you have a newly revised standard, there is always an adjustment period following its rollout. There will be questions revolving around what is meant and how things will be interpreted. By delaying registration, you can miss a lot of the pain and confusion that accompanies a change in standards.

Delaying Certification is Dangerous
Maintaining an ISO 9001 certification benefits both large and small businesses. By delaying certification, your company risks losing accreditation along with customers. Certifying or recertifying to the current ISO 9001:2008 standards helps businesses avoid letting their certification lapse, maintain quality business practices, reduce waste, and improve productivity, Why compromise your reputation? Build and maintain your credibility as a quality organization now.

Become Familiar with ISO 9001:2015 at a Distance
There are quite a few requirements of ISO 9001:2008, which you are already familiar with, that can be found in ISO 9001:2015. Also, by getting certified now, you will have a “head’s up” in meeting the new standard and reducing the learning and implementation curve that comes with the 2015 revision. Once again remember: Companies will have three years before they have to upgrade to the ISO 9001:2015 standard!

Certification Costs-They’re Not What You Think
Over the long run, the cost of getting certified now versus next year is not very different. Your registration to ISO 9001:2008 will be valid for three years following the adoption of the new standard. By the time you are ready to transition, it would be time for recertification anyway. The cost to register now for ISO 9001:2008 may even be lower than what it would cost to wait to initially register to ISO 9001:2015 followed by recertification fee for 2015 three years later.

The Bottom Line
If you’re considering getting certified, it may be in your best interest to start soon and get it done before the transition begins. If you want to learn what’s involved in preparing for ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 9001:2015 contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center at 888.414.6682 or click here.

JOIN US FOR A FREE UPCOMING EVENT:
EXPLORE: Transition With Confidence (FREE)
July 14, 2015   |   8-10am
learn more


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 15, 2015

What Color is Your Belt? The Importance of Six Sigma and Belt Certifications

For most companies in the business world, reducing costs is viewed upon positively. But, for those who speak of it, BEWARE! Sometimes, the idea of reducing costs becomes synonymous with cutting staff in the manufacturing world, especially in the minds of employees. Instead of focusing on just reducing costs, manufacturers should prioritize their efforts and focus on reducing excess and unnecessary costs. This is where Six Sigma comes in.

Six Sigma 101
six sigma 101
Six Sigma is a powerful set of methods and tools enabling manufacturers to reduce excess costs by maximizing efficiencies, eliminating waste and removing variations from their production cycle. The system helps companies create a culture of continuous improvement where employees contribute to positive change and growth. Six Sigma results are geared to be measurable and verifiable.

Six Sigma is applicable to an entire company. It’s not just about improving your production floor – the methodology seeks to streamline processes including delivery and customer service. Projects related to Six Sigma typically follow one of two methodologies based on an acronym:

1)     DMAIC (commonly used to improve already existing operations and businesses):
a.     Define
b.     Measure
c.     Analyze
d.     Improve
e.     Control

2)     DMADV (commonly applied to projects seeking to create new products or processes):
a.     Define
b.     Measure
c.     Analyze
d.     Design
e.     Verify

A Brief History of Six Sigma
The concept of Six Sigma originally comes from statistics and relates to the process of solving problems based on analytical data and evaluation. Six Sigma as a measurement standard can be traced back to the early 19th century. However, Motorola is known as the company to have popularized it in the manufacturing industry in the 1980’s after Motorola engineers grew unhappy with traditional quality measurements. Named by engineer, Bill Smith, Six Sigma was born as a new standard and methodology. Motorola claims to have experienced more than $16 billion in savings as a result of implementing Six Sigma. Over the years, various manufacturing giants adopted it before making rounds to the small to medium sized manufacturing community.
  
Six Sigma Training Involves “Belts”
Different levels of certifications, or “belts”, identify roles and responsibilities for Six Sigma within a company. Like in Karate class, these belts signify official certifications and are ranked from lowest to highest as yellow, green, black and master.

Belts represent individuals trained in the Six Sigma doctrine who work on improvement projects within the company. The belts work within teams of subject-matter experts and sponsors to identify the cause of manufacturing problems and solve them. Here are the commonly used belt certifications:

  • Yellow Belts: Employees who have undergone basic training in Six Sigma and participate in improvement projects. However, they play a smaller role in project implementation and evaluation in comparison to Green and Black belts.

  • Green Belts: Staff members who have been trained in Six Sigma and officially implement its projects in conjunction with their current positions. They report to Black Belts within their team structure.

  • Black Belts: Employees who are completely dedicated to Six Sigma as their full-time position. Their focus is to serve as a leader for Six Sigma project implementation. They additionally train and mentor teams on Six Sigma.

  • Master Black Belts: Individuals who serve a more strategic purpose. In addition to coaching Black and Green Belts, they focus on developing key quantifiable metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of Six Sigma projects.

Note: In addition to the certifications, there are other roles associated with Six Sigma including White Belts and Champions.

Obtain Your Belt Certification Today
If you’re looking to realize the benefits of Six Sigma and make an impact on your bottom line, MMTC can help your team members become Black Belt or Green Belt certified. For more information on our Six Sigma services, click here or contact us at 888.414.6682.



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 8, 2015

ISO 14001:2015 REVISING THE STANDARD

As most of you have probably heard, ISO 14001 has an updated version due out in late 2015. So after 11 years of getting used to the present requirements, it’s all about to change. ISO 14001’s major revision will reflect what is called the “High Level Structure” based on ISO’s Annex SL. If you don’t understand it, don’t worry as it will all be explained soon! What you can expect to see is a different layout, as well as more clauses and requirements.

A Shift in Emphasis
So what does this revision mean to manufacturers? Basically, this new approach will increase emphasis on top management leadership. Top management will be expected to play a larger role in ensuring the organization’s environmental performance is integrated into the business operation. The expectation is that the Environmental Management System (EMS) will be taken much more seriously.

Some of the changes you are likely to experience:
  • A Greater Risk-Based Approach
  • A Required Commitment to Protecting the Environment, Not Just Preventing Pollution
  • Tangible Evidence of Improving the Environment Will Be Required
  • Greater Emphasis On the Life-Cycle Of Your Products
Starting the Transition Process
To prepare employees, it may be useful to start communicating internally that a revision to ISO 14001 is coming in 2015. You should start to look at your processes to see if they are in line with the new high level structure; but take note that your system must remain compliant with the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 until the new standard has been released.

The Life Span of ISO 14001:2004 
ISO 14001:2004 will continue to be recognized and audited until the end of the three year transition period (expected end of 2018).

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center is already gearing up to ensure you have as smooth of a transition as possible to ISO 14001:2015. Keep watching for more information and upcoming MMTC events focused on ISO 14001. For additional information, call 888.414.6682, email inquiry@mmtc.org, or submit an online request here.


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 1, 2015

Why Manufacturers Should Embrace Google+


google plus
As manufacturers look for ways to develop new business, generate leads, and drive sales, social media has become an increasingly important topic. Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of social networking and have therefore embraced sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. However, many businesses have overlooked the benefits of using Google+.

What you need to know is that Google+ is important to your digital strategy. Although this platform isn’t as massive as other social giants, Google+ still has 540 million monthly active users and 20 million unique mobile monthly users.

Here are some key reasons why you should join:

Appeal to the All Mighty Google
Google is king when it comes to Internet search engines. Using Google+ provides an incredible opportunity to drive traffic to your website and boost search engine rankings. In comparison to other social networks, Google+ posts get the upper hand in search results because the content is favored by its creator: Google!

Additionally, your Google+ content posts can be ranked on search engines because every post has its own unique URL. Each Google+ post is crawled and indexed almost immediately – unlike Facebook, where posts sometimes aren’t indexed at all. The more quality content your business produces online, the better. Sticking to a consistent posting strategy on Google+ will also provide you with another way to be better found on the Internet.

Value of the +1 Button
Unlike the “likes” on Facebook and “retweets” on Twitter, Google+’s +1 functionality takes your content much further by having a larger, positive impact on your search engine rankings. For example, if one of your popular Google+ posts got several +1’s from your followers, this post is more likely to rank in search engines for the keywords included in your post.

Building an Even Stronger Online Presence
Your Google+ posts are actually comparable to a full-blown blog entry, which is a good thing! The first 45-50 characters of your Google+ post appear in the title tags, providing an opportunity to increase your search engine credit. And, since you can write in-depth and informative posts on the platform, you can provide higher quality content to your target audience. The average percentage of the engagement rate on Google+ almost reaches that of Facebook.

More Opportunities for Hashtags
When you use #hashtags on Twitter, it enables users to search for a particular keyword or topic – but only on Twitter. When you use a #hashtag on Google+, your content can be discovered on the first page of Google’s search engine results as well. Google+ will also suggest trending #hashtags that are related to your content so you’ll automatically get insight into other popular #hashtags to use.

Utilize Google+ Today
Google+ may not be as commonly mentioned as other social media platforms for business, but it provides a critical opportunity to share quality content online.

MMTC offers services and programs for manufacturers seeking to develop new business. For additional information, call 888.414.6682, email inquiry@mmtc.org, or submit an online request here.

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.