Friday, July 14, 2017

Drowning in ISO Paperwork?

How to Stay Afloat


By: David Bradley

ISO 9001:2015 blends documents and records into a single concept called “Documented Information” and no longer requires any documented procedures. If you’re still in the ISO transition phase, you might be thinking that certain procedures for handling documents and records got a lot more complicated—but did they?

If your procedures for documents and records served you well under the 2008 version, they will probably do the same for the 2015 version. Just because they are no longer mandated does not mean they should be discarded. (This holds true for any document or record you had under the 2008 version.) So, how can you tell if you can discard any of your old documents or if you need additional documentation you did not have in the past?

To help prevent paperwork overload, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the document required by the standard? If the standard requires you to have documented information, does this document meet that requirement? If the answer is yes, then you need to keep (or perhaps generate) the document. Or, you may need to modify the document to meet the requirements or intent of the standard. If the answer is no, then proceed to the next question.

2. Is the document required by either your customer or governmental (regulatory) entity? If either your customer or the government requires the document, then you need to keep it. As with question one, you may need to modify it to meet the requirements. If neither your customer nor the government mandates the document, then advance to question three.

3. Is the document required? You may have documents that are not required by anyone external to the organization, however, the absence of the document could result in unwanted variation. Think of pain here. If we remove the document, could you experience pain? There also may be pain because of the document. Perhaps the document prohibits the flexibility required to effectively and efficiently engage the process. If it is required by necessity, then you must keep the document. Again, modification may be necessary for the document to meet your operational needs. If it is not required by necessity, then jump to the final question.

4. Is it desirable to keep the document? While some documents are not required, they still might be worthwhile to keep.

By asking these questions, you can quickly identify documents that will remain part of your Quality Management System and those that can be discarded. When tossing documents, it’s often helpful to keep a copy in archive.

In any instance, your documents should be up to date with the requirements and your processes.
As processes are performed, verify the documents are still the appropriate reflection of the current practice. As you engage your customers, verify any change to customer requirements. Also, many regulatory documents are reviewed or revised on a yearly basis. Keep track of those changes as well.

Your documentation should assist you in providing a quality product or service. Remember, a well-run system will work for you, not the other way around. Use common sense and frequently ask yourself the previous questions to help maintain a successful Quality Management System that keeps documentation at a minimum level—and your head above water.



Meet Our Expert

David Bradley
Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager

David Bradley has been The Center’s Program Manager in QMS for 18 years and is a member of the Quality Team. His expertise includes ISO 9001, TS 16949, AS 9100, ISO 13485 management systems, Automotive Core Tools, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 programs. To read David’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Build (and Maintain) a Thriving Business

Align Your Mission, Vision and Strategic Plan


By: Ron Quinkert


Most businesses are formed because of an owner’s vision. But, what happens when that vision isn’t conveyed to the employees, and it doesn’t evolve into a carefully drafted mission statement and strategic plan? Unfortunately, this is a common problem—and it sets up the business to fail.
Whether you’re a small or mid-sized manufacturer, you must be keenly aware of three essential elements to build and maintain a successful business—a mission statement, a vision statement and a strategic plan. Leadership must be accountable for making sure all employees’ work continues to support each area. Let’s take a closer look…

Mission Statement
According to Google, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company or organization. Leadership must emphasize the current mission statement to all employees and clearly communicate the purpose and primary, measurable objectives. Remember, your mission is your company’s purpose and should actually inspire and unite employees around a common good.

Vision Statement
A vision statement helps describe the organization's purpose. Vision statements also include the organization’s values, give direction for employee behavior and help provide inspiration. While the mission statement is often in broad terms, the vision statement narrows it down. A key point to consider, a vision statement is how to accomplish the mission, plus it’s measurable.

Strategic Planning
Per Wikipedia, strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy. A strategic plan is a living document and shouldn’t be hidden in a drawer. When opportunities arise or shift, revise it! Don’t forget, any changes need to be shared with the entire organization.

Once you’ve rolled out your new mission, vision and strategic plan, here are a few ideas to help keep your workforce engaged:

Surveys
Ask questions about mission, vision and values to see where your staff stands. If you find that your employees’ answers are inaccurate or inconsistent, you’ll need to help them better understand how to contribute effectively.

Decision-making
When a company outlines its mission, everything and everyone begins to head in the same direction. It becomes apparent who is working on the mission—and who isn’t—and allows management to take the necessary steps to get the team on board.

Company-wide Meetings
Regularly share news about how the company is striving to reach its goals. Not only is a well-informed workplace much happier and more productive, but this also helps the entire organization focus on what’s truly important.

Individual Goals
By analyzing how an employee helps achieve the company’s mission, vision and strategic plan, management can make it more relevant to the individual. This not only helps with engagement, but makes the work more meaningful.

Set Up Your Business (And Your Team) for Success
Need help generating or revising your mission, vision and strategic plan? The Center is your best resource. Contact Ron Quinkert today to get started: RQuinkert@the-center.org



MEET OUR EXPERT

Ron Quinkert
Senior Business Solutions Manager

Ron Quinkert is a Senior Business Solutions Manager with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and has 20 years of automotive sales and manufacturing experience. He works directly with manufacturers in seven Southeast and Central Michigan counties. He is a seasoned professional with expertise in team building, automotive product and manufacturing processes, tool design, operational audit practices, procedures and improvements. To read Ron’s full bio, click here.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, June 30, 2017

ISO 9001:2015 Internal Audits

“Is the Process Approach to Audits Just a Myth?”


By: Andy Nichols

Since ISO 9001:2000, it’s become increasingly common to consider that an organization’s Internal Quality Audits be performed using the so-called “Process Approach.” At the time of publication, that particular version of the International Standard for Management Systems contained no description of what the process approach was. The recently introduced 2015 version makes the “Process Approach” a lot clearer by describing what is envisaged, in section 0.3 of the Introduction to the Standard–and how it applies to the quality management system–development, implementation and improvement. Reading further, the text goes on to describe the Process Approach involving the “systematic definition and management of processes, and their interactions, so as to achieve the intended results.” There’s no mention of anything to do with conducting internal audits in any particular fashion.

Perhaps the Internal Audit requirements, found in clause 9.2, will reveal something…

This particular clause states that “the organization shall:

a) Plan, establish, implement and maintain an audit programme(s) including the frequency, methods, responsibilities, planning requirements and reporting, which shall take into consideration the importance of the process concerned, changes affecting the organization, and the results of previous audits;”

Interestingly, even this statement, which deals with the actual planning and implementation of the internal audits, doesn’t require that those audits shall (or even should) be conducted using the “process approach.” In basic terms, it simply states that the audit programme has to consider the importance of the (quality management system) process concerned. Nothing requires an actual audit of a process! So, why has the mantra of “Process-based Internal Audits” become so pervasive?

Maybe “mission creep” has occurred from the influence of the Certification Body auditors who were required to change their approach to one of auditing process(es), around the time ISO/TS 16949 was published. This era ushered in the use (by CB auditors) of the “turtle” diagram for audit planning, which has become widespread throughout their client base, too.

Although not advocating against the internal audits of only processes, a risk-based approach to the considerations of what to audit and when can be very useful. Empirically, we know that risks occur in business, and they don’t always occur within a process. Traditionally, risks are associated with something new and/or changed or activities affecting an organization:

Product designs & specifications
Sources of supply
Personnel
Technology

By reference to the diagram below, adapted from James Reason’s “Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents,” (ISBN-10: 1840141050), it can be seen that risks occur throughout an Operation.


Clearly, the selection of a specific process may help when considering what part(s) of the management system to audit, however, further planning may reveal that it’s not always the whole process which should fall under the audit spotlight… It may be a relatively simple activity contained within the process. Perhaps a review of a requirement (customer order) and a subsequent change to that requirement may mean that a second review isn’t as robust. In such a case, auditing the entire process may be unnecessary in determining where the change “slipped through the cracks.” Experience also shows that it can be the interaction between processes where issues manifest themselves – at the interface of two (or more) processes.

It follows then, that without a clear, specific requirement to audit (only) processes, an organization is free to choose a specific audit “scope” and “criteria” if those define something within the quality management system which represents risk to effectiveness in achieving intended results. In addition to considering a process as the scope of an audit, the following also may be used:

A customer and/or regulatory requirement – may be implemented in parts of multiple processes
A physical area or location – a warehouse, for example
A specific requirement from the ISO requirements – when establishing the QMS
A project – improvement, new product design, the implementation of a new technology, etc.
An activity – something which may be part of an overall process

For more help in establishing and managing an effective internal audit program, to meet ISO 9001, AS9100D or the IATF 16949 requirements, contact us at: ISO@the-center.org.




Meet Our Expert

Andy Nichols
Quality Program Manager


Andy has 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. In addition to his ISO 9000 Management Systems experience, he has worked extensively with ISO/TS16949, ISO/IEC 17024 and ISO/IEC 17025.

His broad practical knowledge of ‘Quality Tools’ includes: SPC, FMEA, Quality Circles, Problem Solving, Internal Auditing and Process Mapping. He has also been an IRCA and RABQSA accredited Lead Auditor.

To read Andy's full bio, visit click here.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Process Mapping: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

By: Chuck Werner

When teaching a new group of Continuous Improvement (Lean and/or Six Sigma) students, it’s always critical to emphasize the importance of the first “team” activity of any project or kaizen— the process map.

There are many benefits to process mapping. One is its highly visual nature. The ease of comparison between what we THINK happens and what actually does is another. It also helps to focus on what area(s) of the process are contributing to the problem or performance of the process. To illustrate the first and potentially most impactful output of the process map, let’s consider a very old, well-known story.

The Blind Men and the Elephant


Six blind men once lived in a village. One day, they heard that there was an elephant in the market. The men had no idea what an elephant was. And even though they could not see, they decided to go to the market anyway. Their goal was to gain an understanding of this wonder they had heard about, if only through touching it. The group went to the market square where each of them touched the elephant.

"The elephant is as a pillar," said the first man, who touched a leg.

"No, it is like a rope," said the second man, who touched the tail.

"Oh no, it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man as he touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big fan," said the fourth man who touched the ear.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a spear," said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the “truth” of the elephant, each of them insisting that he was right. After a while, they became angry with each other. A wise man was passing by and saw their distress. "What is the matter?" he asked them. They said, "We cannot agree what the elephant is like." Each man then described what he thought the elephant was. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each of you touched a different part of the elephant. The elephant has all of those features you described."

"Oh!" the men said, happy that they were each right and content in their understanding of the entire beast.

Teams, whatever their purpose, are usually cross-functional. This means they include “subject matter experts” from several areas of the process being studied—such as stamping, fixture operator, welder and inspector. Just as likely, they are drawn from different disciplines within the business, such as finance, maintenance, operations, quality and engineering. Similar to how the blind men only had knowledge of the part of the elephant they had touched, the information and expertise held by each member of the team is often compartmentalized.  Consequently, their thinking regarding root causes, countermeasures, and/or improvements, can only draw from their personal experience of the process, or those parts they have “touched.”

Mapping is the tool that enables us to take each part of the process as experienced and fit them together. By sharing these bits of information (in a systematic approach), and using them to populate a true picture of the process, we get an image that is more accurate. Additionally, each team member becomes more knowledgeable about the process itself. They begin to see how their “piece” fits in with those of their teammates.

This understanding of the whole leads to enhanced performance of the team through an understanding of the internal and external “customers” in the process. It also results in greater improvements, as all the members can bring a larger understanding to bear on the problem or process. It is through Process Mapping that we are allowed to finally see ALL of the elephant. Then we just have to figure out which bite to eat first.

But that is another story…



Meet Our Expert

Chuck Werner
Lean Program Manager and Six Sigma Master Black Belt


Chuck Werner has 27 years of experience in manufacturing, most of it as a Tier I automotive supplier. He achieved his certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in 1996 and his Master Black Belt certification in 2011. Additionally, Chuck is a certified ISO/QS9000 Lead Assessor, Training Within Industry (TWI) Master Trainer and is certified in OSHA Compliance and Accident Reduction. To read his full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 click here.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Keep Your Customers Coming Back!

Five ingredients that are sure to satisfy.

By: Tricia Onesian


Whether you prefer a burger grilled to perfection or a tasty summer salad loaded with sun-ripened berries, there’s no shortage of delicious summer fare at your favorite restaurants. I’m always reminded that the overall experience is far more satisfying when a restaurant serves up delicious food and excellent service. (I consider this a recipe for success!)

What can manufacturers learn from the restaurant industry about a positive customer experience? PLENTY! Taking great care of your customers is important for every industry. According to Lee Resources, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.

Strive to give your customers the best possible service 
I’ve discovered the five key ingredients that will help your customers become repeat customers.
For best results, mix all of the ingredients together equally—and don’t forget my personal
favorite—#5!

1. Give a Little Extra – Go the extra mile for your customer. Send a thank you gift or give your customer a call just to say hello. Your customers will remember and appreciate a kind gesture. After all, 95% of consumers share bad experiences with other people (Zendesk). Be sure to give them a positive one!

2. Create an Inviting Atmosphere – We tend to only use the fancy silverware when we have guests, right? If your customers are touring your new, state-of-the-art facility or joining you for lunch, don’t just treat your customers as customers—treat them like family. And, make them feel like they are your only customer by giving them the time and attention they deserve.

3. Be Accommodating – Can you imagine if restaurants served dinner for only one hour or charged you for a little more salad dressing? Neither can I. Re-arrange schedules when necessary. Make a concerted effort to be understanding when things don’t go exactly as planned. Do what it takes to make the customer feel like you’re meeting their needs.

4. Become the Expert – Be a trusted advisor and the person your customers can always count on. Brush up on your skills and know your products inside and out. Think of it like this—once you’ve found the perfect burger, why would you go anywhere else? Your customers will rely on your wisdom instead of a competitor’s.

5. Serve It Up With a Smile – No one wants to deal with a grumpy server. The same is true for your customers. Be positive, helpful and always smile when you speak!

In a world where customer service is often lacking, give your customers more than they expect.
Whether it’s a second helping of food or amazing service, you’re bound to get repeat (and satisfied) customers.



MEET OUR EXPERT

Tricia Onesian
Inside Sales Representative


Tricia became passionate working with clients more than 25 years ago in various customer service and management positions with paper manufacturing and warehousing companies. Since joining The Center in 2016, Tricia has been enthusiastic about sharing how Michigan manufacturers can enhance quality, improve efficiency and propel growth. She is currently certified in ISO/TS 16949 Internal Auditor Training and as a Lean Manufacturing Champion.

To read Tricia’s full bio, click here





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Engaging Your Evolving Workforce

Four Steps to Propel Success


By: Jamie Headley


For the first time in our nation’s history, four generations (and soon to be five) work alongside each other. Manufacturers now find themselves trying to balance age gaps that can span upwards of 50 years between the youngest and oldest employees. What can be done so every generation of your workforce is engaged? Here are four key actions that management should take to help their employees thrive:

1. Embrace different values – Each generation brings an array of skills and experience to the workplace. Different generations also are known for being motivated by and valuing different things. For example, Baby Boomers tend to be loyal to a company and value perks and prestige, while Millennials are highly engaged when they are passionate about a particular issue or cause. It’s critical for leaders to embrace each generation’s values because the one-size-fits-all approach no longer works.

2. Encourage mentoring opportunities – Promote a culture of generation-to-generation mentorship. Whether it’s a knack for utilizing the latest technology or possessing decades of in-depth knowledge on a particular subject, your staff should take advantage of their co-workers’ invaluable expertise. By creating a mentoring system in which the youngest employees learn from the seasoned professionals and vice versa, you will realize relationship-building at its best. The mentoring concept is an important element in the area of succession planning also.

3. Provide flexible training options – From onboarding to yearly training, be open to new ideas and flexible with each approach. Younger generations tend to have shorter attention spans, so training works best when it is broken down in segments that are five minutes or less. (Yes, using mobile devices to get your message across is a must.) Other employees might benefit from just-in-time learning—the skills are imparted immediately to help avoid loss of retention due to a time gap. Not sure which option is best? Ask your team for feedback.

4. Lead by example – Sometimes, the best way to learn is to listen. Develop unique and specific relationships with each person you have the opportunity to work with. A leader who encourages these one-on-one relationships focuses on the staff’s generational needs and values, creating an environment where employees want to work. So keep the lines of communication open.

While it takes time and a concerted effort to build and maintain a culture where multiple age groups are engaged in their work, generational differences actually can be beneficial to the overall operation—and success—of your business.


MEET OUR EXPERT

Jamie Headley
Senior Business Solutions Manager



Jamie Headley is a Senior Business Solutions Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center). She works as an advisor to Michigan manufacturers in the Southwest region of the state, helping them to “manufacture smarter.”  Jamie is a seasoned operations professional with expertise in change management, strategic planning, leadership, process improvement, lean implementations, cost containment and operational excellence. To read Jamie’s full bio, click here.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.











Friday, June 2, 2017

Risk in ISO 9001:2015 Transition?

By: Dale Wicker
In the ISO 9001:2015 standard there are two basic terms encompassing risk: risk-based thinking and the compound term risk and opportunities. Risk-based thinking is intended to be the system or approach an organization takes when considering risks and opportunities. These risk and opportunities are only those that may affect the organization’s ability to enhance customer satisfaction and consistently meet customer requirements, and, as applicable, statutory and regulatory requirements.

In ISO, risk is defined as “the effect of uncertainty,” and when used is implying a negative sense, which is in agreement with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition. So, in every instance in which the term risk is used in the new standard, it is used in the negative sense and never in the sense of a positive effect.

Opportunity, however, is presented in a less clear manner. For instance, in NOTE for Clause 6.1.2 states, “Options to address risks can include . . . taking risk in order to pursue an opportunity…” which agrees with the general understanding of opportunities, where actions are put in place for favorable or positive effects. However, throughout the standard it seems to use risk and opportunities together in a negative fashion. This seems to imply that we are to look for opportunities in the negative effects of risks and take action to prevent them or mitigate them. While this is true, it tends to place opportunities in a negative light and not line up with the general understanding. For instance, it would be a good practice to also consider positive effects that may occur that could lead to better products, improved processes, cost reductions, etc. This would line up with the general understanding of opportunities.

So what’s all this risk rattling mean?

David Hoyle, writer and Quality Management coach explains:

• An uncertainty presents a risk if its occurrence may have a negative effect on an expected result and is therefore relevant.
• An uncertainty presents an opportunity if its occurrence may have a positive effect on an unexpected result and is therefore relevant.

So, what do you need to do? 

Don’t panic! You’ve probably been applying risk-based thinking and didn’t know it! For instance, when you analyzed nonconformities and took action to prevent their recurrence, you were addressing risk; when you introduced training, you were addressing risk; when you did contract review, you were addressing risk; when you put in place controls over design, purchasing, production and service delivery, you were addressing risks. If you are currently ISO 9001 registered, none of this should be new to you. You already do these things!  The only thing that is new is the definition, which is covering a lot of what the old preventive actions required anyway.

In summary, your organization needs to have a system or approach for risk-based thinking that is promoted by leadership (Clause 5.1.1) that addresses your risk and opportunities (Clause 4.4.1, 5.1.2, 6.1.1, 6.1.2, 9.1.3, 9.3.2, and 10.2.1). You  must assess the risk and opportunities in light of meeting customer, statutory and regulatory requirements, as applicable, while enhancing customer satisfaction.



Ask Our Expert

Dale Wicker
Quality Program Manager



Dale Wicker is a member of The Center's Quality Team. He manages and delivers training and assistance to organizations in the areas of quality improvements and environmental management systems. Some of his projects involve support with the implementation of a Quality Management System including: ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS 9100 and ISO 14001. Dale also conducts training and provides consulting on the supporting tools of Quality Systems. To read Dale’s full bio, click here.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Follow the Leader

(What Happens When the Leader is Gone?)


By: Michael Beels


In the manufacturing industry, it’s desirable for family-owned businesses to be passed down from one generation to the next. Without a proper succession plan in place, a c-level family member’s sudden death or unexpected disability can cause a multitude of problems. Fortunately, proper succession planning—which strives to circumvent these unpredictable events by having a thorough program of plans and responses in place to optimally fill key leadership positions—can help lessen the disruption and deter family infighting. 

The following are some frequently asked questions I’ve received about succession planning and some helpful answers:

Q: Why do you need a succession plan?
A: There are more than 200,000 family-owned businesses in Michigan that do not have a formal plan to carry on the owner's vision after he/she is deceased or exits the business. With only 35% successfully making the transition to a second generation, both legacy and jobs are at risk. 

Q: What goes into a suitable succession plan? 
A: Above and beyond the need to find resources for financial planning, estate planning, business valuation, operating agreements, buy/sell agreements, trusts, etc., a business owner should consider the following: personal income requirements, future involvement, upcoming investments and legacy. 

Q: Who needs to be involved?
A: All family members, even those who are not currently part of the business must be privy to a succession plan. Key employees should be included, too.

Q: What strategies should be incorporated?
A: Tactics include any business competencies that need to be developed for key personnel to achieve strategic goals, planning the transition of roles and responsibilities of key management members, and determining whether the successor of the business will be found internally or externally.

Q: How often should it be updated?
A: At a minimum, annually.

Q: What should be top-of-mind when developing a succession plan?
A: The business owner must determine what they want to do with the business. Do they plan on handing off the business to a family member? Sell the business? Remain an active participant even after retiring? Answering these questions will lead ownership down the correct path for succession planning. It is highly recommended that business owner’s plan for “Emergency Succession.” What will happen if the leader were unable to remain in that role due to emergency purposes? What if they become disabled, incapacitated or even die? Would the business continue? Everything from key contacts to computer passwords must be addressed. 

Q: How can a succession plan positively impact customers?
A: Consumers become loyal to a company because of consistent work culture, efficiency of output and level of production. In order to meet and exceed current customer expectations, manufacturers must be able to maintain their daily routines no matter what the situation may be.

Q: How does a succession plan benefit employees? 
A: When a company’s culture, ethics, routine and rules suddenly change, employees may become flustered or disengaged, putting an organization at risk of making mistakes, decreasing levels of motivation and diminishing productivity. The abruptness of the situation may also result in an employee feeling disconnected, lacking support and left wanting to leave. Succession planning allows employees to adjust organically to the transition with gradual ease, while maintaining their level of productivity and motivation.  

Plan for the unexpected
Most importantly, don’t delay setting up a succession plan for your business. If you’ve already done so, congratulations! Keep in mind, however, it might be time for a review. To schedule your free assessment with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center), click here



About Our Expert

Michael Beels 
Lean Program Manager

Michael Beels has served as a Lean Program Manager for the Lean Business Solutions Team at The Center for more than 12 years. He a Certified Family Business Advisor and RAB/QSA Certified Internal Auditor. His areas of expertise include Succession Planning, Change Leadership, Workforce Engagement and the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methodologies. To read Michael’s full bio, click here. 








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be a Leader (Not a Boss)

Don't Follow the Example of Iconic TV and Movie Characters


By: Charlie Westra


What do The Office’s Michael Scott, Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Office Space’s Bill Lumbergh and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada all have in common? They’re some of the most memorable bosses on TV and the big screen—for all the wrong reasons. From ultra-cheesy, mega greedy to super sleazy, there’s been no shortage of highly incapable, completely inappropriate supervisors to entertain us.

Fast forward to your workplace
While workplace hilarity is perfect with your favorite beverage on the comfort of your couch, can you imagine if one of these fictional characters was your supervisor in real life? I’m cringing just thinking about heartless micromanager Lumbergh at my office. (“Charlie, yeah, I’m going to need you to come in tomorrow and if you can come in on Sunday, too, that’d be greeaaaat.”)

Whether you work on the manufacturing floor or in an office, the importance of having an effective leader cannot be underestimated. A recent Gallup study found that 1 out of 2 adults had left their job to get away from a manager. The bottom line: Supervisors can make or break employee retention and job satisfaction.

If you’re a supervisor, ask yourself the following questions: Do you give your employees a case of the Mondays every day of the week? Are you bringing out the best in your employees or are you bringing out your worst?

What is great leadership?
True leadership is not just the ability to motivate a group toward a common goal—it’s the ability to cross over from a person employees have to follow, to a person they want to follow. Leadership is influence, and if the focus is shifted from traditional authority to true relational leadership—treating your team members as people first and employees second—success will follow. Develop positive employee-manager relationships and employee retention skills, equip managers with practical tools that can be used every day to attract new talent and keep the good people already onboard.

To simplify the process, I have boiled down three critical points:

Find out, and relate to, what your employees value. (Mr. Burns, are you listening?)
Sacrifice a little bit of time and energy to connect with each team member on a regular basis.
  (Yep, Michael Scott did this well . . . minus Toby and Meredith.)
Communicate appreciation. (All of the fictional characters need a crash course on this one.)

Enhance your skills and fill the gap with leadership training
The Center’s Supervisory Skills Workshop can develop, enhance and refresh your skills as a leader and offer a renewed outlook on true relational leadership. Have some employees with leadership potential or a newly promoted supervisor or foreman and want to give him or her some practical management training? This 32-hr. class is ideal for them, too. Among others, participants will learn how to:

Identify their leadership style and its strengths and weaknesses.
Discover different behavioral characteristics and determine the best method for each type.
Uncover communication barriers and listening/communication techniques to enhance interaction
  in all directions.
Examine how individuals are motivated and identify opportunities to encourage subordinates to
  achieve organizational goals.
Determine the most effective methods of delivering on-the-job training and apply them for
  increased competence in employees.
Pinpoint what causes conflict and how to mitigate and prevent escalation.

Be the reason talented employees stay with your company. Let’s leave the drama where it
belongs . . . on the screen.


Interested in learning more?
Click here to watch a short video about The Center's Supervisory Skills course.


Join me for the Supervisory Skills Workshop:

July 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Kalamazoo Country Club
1609 Whites Road
Kalamazoo, MI
Click here to register.

September 18, 20, 25 and 27, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The Center
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI
Click here to register.





MEET OUR BLOGGER

Charlie Westra
Growth Services Program Manager


Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center and teaches the Supervisory Skills class. He enjoys interacting with small to mid-sized manufacturers about how to improve morale, motivate effectively, reduce conflict and resistance to change. To read Charlie’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Food Allergen Recalls: What’s On the Table?

By: John Spillson
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses. Food safety and food testing technology keep getting better, yet recalls have been on the rise. Why? While many recalls are for unsafe/contaminated food, many times it’s due to allergens. In fact, one third of all recalls are due to the mislabeling of allergens in food products.

The U.S. recognizes eight allergens that contribute to 90% of the allergic reactions in the U.S. They can be easily remembered by the following acronym—“NEWS”:

N – Nuts (Peanuts or tree nuts are species specific and must be individually identified)
E – Eggs/milk
W – Wheat/soy
S – Shellfish/fish –These are also species specific so the type of fish must be identified.

Canada also includes sesame seeds, mustard and sulfites as listed allergens. So, companies exporting to Canada must be aware of this on their labels.

Three Ways Allergens Get Into the Food Supply
Allergens can mistakenly get into food products by one of three ways: cross contact on food surfaces, cross contamination or mislabeling. Cross contact occurs when surfaces are shared between items with and without these allergens, when surfaces aren’t properly cleaned, or when ingredients might be substituted and labels aren’t checked for the introduction of new allergens. It’s important to remember that sanitizing surfaces does not remove allergens—only cleaning with proper cleaning solutions and agitation.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—Proactive Instead of Reactive
The old food laws put the emphasis on controlling hazards through the use of “critical control points” under HACCP rules. The new FSMA has moved the emphasis to preventing hazards from occurring in the first place. The most significant factor is the requirement that every food processor must have a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) available to them. A PCQI is trained to identify food safety hazards and to develop and maintain a company’s food safety plan to control dangers that are likely to occur and that have severe consequences should they make their way into our food.

Under FSMA, the three biggest areas that companies have increased responsibility include: monitoring their supply chain, having proper sanitation programs and ensuring the accuracy of their labels. Supply chain controls involve getting written documentation from their approved suppliers that their products are what they say they are and that they have certificates of analysis, when necessary. Proper sanitation programs require segregating allergens in dry storage as well as during processing. These also include adequate cleaning and sanitizing between processing runs to reduce or eliminate the chance of leftover allergen residue being picked up by another product. The third area includes proper labeling of the final product. Labels of inbound products must be checked for accuracy to make sure any allergens are properly labeled before the product leaves the facility.

Simple Allergens Can Hide
Do you know that “sodium caseinate” is actually milk? Or that lecithin comes from soy? Not only do employees need to know about the ingredients, but they also need to be aware of packaging issues as well. Some lubricants and packages are made with ingredients derived from wheat and casein. Supplier verification and a knowledgeable, trained workforce is essential to catch these hazards before they reach the consumer.

For most people without allergies these problems will go unnoticed, but if you suffer from life-threatening food allergies, the results could be deadly. That’s why it's critical for food manufacturers to properly train all staff and ensure food laws are strictly followed.


In other news:

The Center is pleased to host the following food event in June:

FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food
This course is recognized by the FDA as meeting the requirements to become a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). Individuals successfully completing this training will receive a certificate from the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA).

June 2, 9 & 16, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, or to register, click here.


Meet Our Expert

John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager


John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.








Friday, May 5, 2017

Operational Excellence: What It Means to Your Business and Your Customers

By: Anna Stefos


What exactly is Operational Excellence (OpEx)? It’s not easy to define since most people think only about the operational benefits associated with continuous improvement. In fact, true OpEx goes deeper and is designed to embrace an entire ecosystem of many interwoven roads of an all-inclusive, collaborative culture, with high impact to the business that has one goal: To continuously delight and surprise the customer with superior products and services they may not always even know they need or want! Companies that successfully and thoroughly adopt OpEx will realize increased revenues and customer base, enhance its corporate brand, enjoy decline in operational costs, improve its reputation, and more often than not, be the go-to company in its sector—even if they are not the lowest priced!

It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
For one thing, OpEx is not a destination! It’s a metrics-driven, entire value chain improvement journey that follows a disciplined management methodology that embraces the quest of perfection, comprehensive process improvement—be it capability or quality just to name a few—and unrelenting focus on the customer. It applies to everyone in the organization—from the highest to the actual operation level. And everyone in such an organization gets it.

In its entirety, OpEx is a business execution philosophy and methodology that supports an organization’s corporate vision, and it should not be viewed as separate from how a business is run. It integrates a Business Excellence system that requires discipline in both the planning and execution phases of the entire enterprise and one that integrates major building blocks such as:

• Performance management
Process excellence
Metrics driven methodology
Strategy deployment
High performance collaboration driven teams

Everyone Must Be On Board for Success
Operational Excellence is an enabler that empowers corporate leadership to reach the apex of the enterprise through a highly-focused, data-driven methodology that encourages proactive solutions thus eliminating, or at least significantly minimizing, “firefighting” that for so many years has been woven into our manufacturing culture.

Because it drives corporate strategy projects that are aligned with and linked to business strategy and execution, OpEx also belongs in the boardroom as it propels a company’s self-awareness towards their true DNA. The result? Stronger, more profitable brands and undisputed word-class status. The collective power of such projects unites management with the workforce in a pragmatic and business-centric way that embraces transparency and all-inclusiveness—a dramatic shift from traditional business practices.

Nonetheless, unless Operational Excellence is formally organized and supported by the highest levels of the organization, it is not achievable, let alone sustainable. By wanting to be an OpEx organization, the mission is not to reinvent the wheel, or be accused that we are proponents of another management tool; the mission is far from it!

Training Is Essential
Since businesses are living and evolving organisms, not machines, comprised of people who must embrace the culture paradigm shifts without suspicion and mistrust, and together march towards the corporate morphing into learning and all-inclusive organizations, ongoing training is paramount. After all, a business is comprised of people who must keep on learning in order to grow their skillset and be better armed to flourish in this environment. An enabled workforce will themselves become change agents by stimulating, communicating and institutionalizing OpEx initiatives as part of the collective corporate transformation journey.

Developing the Perfect Deployment Strategy 
It will be a transition expedition when it all comes together and the organization shifts from being top down, to becoming a high performing, transparent entity where everyone is valued, feels valued, understands why they do what they do, and how it all ties to the corporate vision and shifting culture. A culture where everyone is a leader in their own way and a catalyst towards OpEx with one single voice: To exhilarate the customer!



Meet Our Expert

Anna Stefos
Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Anna Stefos has a diverse automotive background spanning 20 combined years at GM and FCA, ranging from international manufacturing, to product development, strategic planning, program management, corporate strategy and international operations. Anna’s experience in partnering with C-level executives provides a strong foundation for and advising small and medium-sized companies to achieve Enterprise Transformation and propel them towards Operational Excellence. To read her full bio, click here.





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.






Friday, April 28, 2017

Use Green Manufacturing and Sustainability to Reduce Costs

By: David Bradley


As costs continue to rise and customers repeatedly seek price reductions, it’s no surprise that manufacturing profits are feeling the pinch. That’s why it’s critical for businesses to look into environmental performance as a means to save money. The next steps you take can benefit the environment, create substantial paybacks and lead your business into increasing profitability through sustainability.

According to Google, sustainable manufacturing is defined as the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities and consumers. Sustainable manufacturing can save you money by:

• Lowering utility bills

• Reducing scrap costs

• Cutting waste hauling bills

• Minimizing downtime

• Decreasing operational costs

Utility Costs

The three biggest areas for utility savings include:

1. Lighting: Switching to LED or other energy-saving lighting systems could save you a lot of
    green. Don’t overlook ways to maximize natural lighting by using skylights.

2. Compressed air: One company I know saved more than $90,000 a year just by eliminating
    fugitive air leaks.

3. Water: I’m amazed at how many companies use water for non-contact cooling and still “pump
    and dump.” Using a closed recirculating system can lead to major savings.

Waste Hauling

Recycling, reusing and reducing materials can greatly decrease the number of dumpster charges. Sometimes, it can even generate much needed income. For example, I witnessed a company that was able to transfer the cost of having pallets hauled away into a revenue stream—simply by refurbishing their pallets and selling them. Think out of the box (dumpster) on this one.

Scrap Costs

There are two types of scrap: manufacturing scrap and quality scrap. Using sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce both of these. I’ve observed how one resourceful company cut its manufacturing scrap (offal) by 80%—just by finding ways to better stamp out their product.

Downtime

A lot of people often overlook Total Product Maintenance (TPM) as a sustainable manufacturing practice. According to Google, TPM is a system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through the machines, equipment, processes and employees that add business value to an organization. It can drastically decrease the amount of unplanned downtime.

Operational Costs

Unfortunately, we can’t produce our products for free. So, the next best thing is to produce products at the lowest cost that quality and delivery can accommodate. The whole premise of sustainable manufacturing is to make products with minimal resources and the lowest environmental impact.

Resources have associated costs. As we shrink our resources being used, the costs will be lowered. Everything mentioned above will not only drive down costs, but also lower our environmental footprint. Sustainable manufacturing = reduced costs = increased profits. The equation is simple. The math works. Let sustainable manufacturing work for you!



Meet Our Expert

David Bradley
Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager

David Bradley has been The Center’s Program Manager in QMS for 18 years and is a member of the Quality Team. His expertise includes ISO 9001, TS 16949, AS 9100, ISO 13485 management systems, Automotive Core Tools, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 programs. To read David’s full bio, click here.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

















Friday, April 21, 2017

Proud to Manufacture in Michigan?

Yes We Are!


By: Michael McGray

For decades, Michigan’s manufacturers have played a vital role in our state’s economic development. In 2012, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) wanted to honor the diverse contributions of our state’s manufacturers by starting a Proud to Manufacture in Michigan (PTMIM) campaign. Participating manufacturers were invited to display a Proud to Manufacture poster in their facilities and received a complimentary profile page in a special directory. Due to the positive response to the campaign, the official Proud to Manufacture in Michigan program was launched soon after.

Today, with nearly 650 members, the PTMIM program has become a valuable resource for Michigan manufacturers to network with other companies that support or provide services to manufacturers. Besides the added exposure, PTMIM members can gain access to critical information that pertains to the manufacturing community including: cybersecurity preparedness, ISO standards, technology trends, lean principles and more. In every aspect, the goal is to continue to raise awareness of Michigan’s vibrant manufacturing community and the full range of products made in our state.

All members receive an official “Proud to Manufacture in Michigan” certificate and poster to display in their facilities and the program logo to exhibit on their websites. Through generous support of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, PTMIM membership and benefits are free.

PTMIM dedicates a section of its website to an online directory for manufacturers and their products. State manufacturers can sign up for free to get a company profile page where they can share their logo, description, contact information, company news and pictures or videos of their products. Both the general public and businesses looking for suppliers can use this helpful directory to research Michigan-made products and support our state’s economy. A special “Featured Manufacturer of the Week” is highlighted on the website and social media sites.

The LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter platforms allow followers to conveniently interact, ask questions and stay current with industry news. The PTMIM program recently launched a blog on its website to invite subscribers to support the objectives of the program by sharing their expertise and establishing themselves as subject matter experts.

PTMIM also partners with meaningful groups such as The Shop Rat Foundation—a non-profit organization whose mission is to ignite interest in manufacturing careers among youth. Plus, PTMIM advocates for volunteer opportunities such as mentoring. Initiatives like these help the next generation learn about the numerous manufacturing opportunities in Michigan.

Are You Proud to Manufacture in the Great Lakes State? 
Join Proud to Manufacture in Michigan today! Click here.


In other PTMIM news, The Center is pleased to host the following event in May:

Proud to Manufacture in Michigan “Makers Mingle”

In celebration of Michigan manufacturing, PTMIM members will attend an expert-led event focused on manufacturing resources, upcoming industry trends and requirements that may impact business. Special guest and member, Christie Wong Barrett from the Mac Arthur Corporation, will be among the speakers.

Friday, May 12, 2017
9 AM – NOON
The Center
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, click here.

Meet Our Expert

Michael McGray
Information Systems Manager


Michael McGray is a founding member of Proud to Manufacture in Michigan and currently serves as its Program Director. He has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Since 2011, Michael has been The Center’s Information Systems Manager. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Eastern Michigan University.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Help Wanted: Millennial Manufacturers

How to Recruit Top Talent


By: Russ Mason



With its aging demographic, the U.S. manufacturing sector will have more than three million jobs available by 2025. According to Forbes, millennials are projected to make up 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. However, nearly two million of these positions will go unfilled—due to the existing skills gap and the prevailing perception about manufacturing careers. In order to tackle this pressing issue, manufacturers must identify millennials who can successfully work in manufacturing and ignite a desire in these young minds to work in the field.

The good news is that most millennials are willing to learn; they just need the interest, knowledge and opportunity to effectively engage in manufacturing duties. Here are three key ways for manufacturers to attract millennials:

Education – Many manufacturers have been utilizing multiple learning platforms, open online courses, training programs, and hands-on opportunities in order to lure talent with extensive technical skills. Companies also have been leveraging apprenticeships so participants can gain firsthand experience about the work life of a manufacturer. 

A recent program provided by the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center encouraged students from the State University of New York at New Paltz to intern at a manufacturing facility. The students were able to witness all aspects of manufacturing and gain additional technical skills through valuable real world training. The strategic partnership between the university and HVTDC has successfully filled numerous manufacturing positions—all with millennials. 

Recruitment – So, how did some of these manufacturing companies turn learning programs into internships which segued into full-time positions? Manufacturers must understand millennials, their values, needs and goals and consider them when they define and frame job opportunities. The typical millennial is interested in:

Working for a winning organization
Quality of life
Positive impact on society
Future growth, education and financial worth

Most millennials want an opportunity for personal development, the ability to make impactful decisions and work for a high-performing, collaborative company. Most importantly, they want to make a difference. Therefore, manufacturers must offer short-term and long-term opportunities for the millennial. This typically would include elements of capability development (education, training, and mentoring) coupled with a collaborative environment that encourages participation.

Because all manufacturers are in similar situations, they must offer something that differentiates themselves from others. Manufacturers must offer opportunities that specifically reflect what matters to millennials, e.g.:

Pride in their organization (vision, performance, culture, workplace)
Work that makes the most of their skills (current or future), and provides the resources, 
  information, authority and training necessary to perform at their best
Opportunity to work in teams, voice opinions and be recognized
Family work environment
Flexibility – clear instructions, concrete targets, but leave the where and how open to them

Improving the Image of Manufacturing – The hardest aspect of recruiting is perception. When millennials think of a career in manufacturing, the immediate image that comes to mind is one of hazard, dirt and hard labor. Manufacturing companies must actively strive to erase this image and replace it with one of innovation and accomplishment. Manufacturers can make the job position more attractive through the following efforts:

Be prepared to describe what a career with your manufacturing company can offer
Do a better job of telling your story
            - Raise the image of manufacturing by describing technology trends and innovation 
              demands
            - Ensure your brand, and your message, is one of a high-performing company that 
              has a clear vision, constructive culture and an effective leadership team
Be involved in the community
Improve the organization and cleanliness of your workplace

For those of us in the manufacturing space—we are all change agents. Do your part to help dispel myths. Raise awareness about career opportunities. Start a discussion about how state-of-the-art equipment has reinvented the typical work space. Together, we can bridge the manufacturing gap.


Meet Our Expert

Russ Mason
Lean Program Manager


Russ is a Lean Program Manager for The Center’s Business Solutions Team. His areas of expertise include: change leadership and management development, sales and operations planning, management operating systems and supply chain effectiveness. Russ has more than 18 years of broad-based consulting and 16 years of manufacturing experience in a variety of industries and functional levels. He has held senior level management positions in operations, materials, quality and more. To read Russ’s full bio, click here.





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five Memorable Phrases to Sustain 5S

By: Chuck Werner


As a manufacturer, you should be keenly aware of the importance of 5S methodology for improving workplace performance through standardization. The ultimate goal of any 5S initiative is the successful implementation of the fifth step, SUSTAIN. To ensure this, it's critical that the actions in the first four steps (SORT through STANDARDIZE) are aligned with maintaining the gains.

Here are five quotations (one for each of the steps) to remember throughout the 5S process:

SORT – “DO YOUR HOMEWORK!”

This timeless saying is attributed to the first parent who EVER had a child with homework. The important part here is for the team to do their homework about their designated area. This will help ensure that the purpose, mission and goals are clearly understood.

An effective first step paves the way for the entire activity to succeed. Without it, many mistakes likely will be made during the sorting process since necessary items will be removed, and items that are not maintained properly might be misused.

SET IN ORDER – “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

This phrase was first uttered by Paul Marcarelli in a Verizon commercial back in 2002. It’s a great reminder that setting up an area during a 5S event is an interactive process. In order for team members to be the most productive in their work environment, they need to be asked on a regular basis about what works best for them. Otherwise, the area will immediately begin to morph back into its original setup, since team needs were not taken into account.

SHINE – “WHAT YOU ACCEPT IS WHAT YOU TEACH”

A key point, and title of the 2006 book by Michael Cohen, this saying perfectly calls out one of the mistakes often made during the SHINE step in 5S. Quite often, the team is so busy removing the dirt, grime and other contaminants from the work area that they forget to identify the sources of them. Tool changes, equipment condition, maintenance activities, material drop off and pick up, and many other activities can contribute to the area falling below the standard. If these other sources of general disarray are not considered, the area teams will lose motivation quickly since they will see themselves as maids, not as area owners.

STANDARDIZE – “K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID)”

First used in training by the United States Navy in the 1960s, this phrase summarizes the key criteria needed to standardize during a 5S implementation. The most brilliant plan—if complex, time-consuming, and onerous—is doomed to failure before it even starts. Keep standards visual, expectations achievable and audits simple and timely.

SUSTAIN – “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

This quote from the 1996 movie, “Jerry Maguire,” reminds us that people are more likely to buy into what they see as having value to them. As two of the main characters learn, there are some things that may not seem to have great worth in the beginning, but turn out to be of the utmost importance and value later. In the end, this idea is what sustaining is all about; helping the area teams achieve a level of workplace standardization that creates an environment that is safe and more enjoyable, a job that is made easier by the benefits of 5S and the level of ownership necessary to sustain it.

Your business needs 5S structure to perform at its peak. Future success can hang by a thread when required and established standards are not met and maintained. The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can help your manufacturing facility work more efficiently and drive growth. To gain a better understanding about our full range of consulting services, click here or email at cwerner@the-center.org.


Meet Our Expert

Chuck Werner
Lean Program Manager and Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Chuck Werner has 27 years of experience in manufacturing, most of it as a Tier I automotive supplier. He achieved his certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in 1996 and his Master Black Belt certification in 2011. Additionally, Chuck is a certified ISO/QS9000 Lead Assessor, Training Within Industry (TWI) Master Trainer and is certified in OSHA Compliance and Accident Reduction. To read his full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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.the-center.org.